YouTube Advertising 101: What Digital Marketers Can Learn From Politics

YouTube Advertising 101: What Digital Marketers Can Learn From Politics

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YouTube is a huge battleground for political candidates as voters have turned to devices and media platforms to gather their information about the races. According to Google, users viewed 110 million hours of candidate- and issue-related content between April 2015 and March 2016, causing constituents to make decisions in the “micro-moments.”

“Today’s voters want a quick way to catch up on the latest elections buzz, and they’ve found it in online video,” the article by Google stated. Politics and elections are a hot topic in America, but marketers can learn valuable lessons to apply to their own businesses when they study human behavior throughout election periods.

Just as voters turned to YouTube for answers, consumers are turning to the online search engine for information about their favorite brands. While only 11% of marketers have implemented YouTube into their marketing strategies, there’s an incredibly vast market for your business to tap into (a billion users in 88 countries).

If YouTube is a new social media advertising strategy for your brand, let’s discuss several key questions that will help you effectively turn potential customers into raving fans.


What kinds of advertisements can you run on YouTube? Does it have to be video?

Distinguishing between advertisements and non-advertisements is difficult on YouTube. There can be a wide range of pieces that blur the line, like brand-created content or product placements. However, there are several avenues that are clearly-marked advertising. There are very specific types of advertisements that are allowed on YouTube, and they are constantly changing, so check the platform’s format resource to view updated details.

  • Display ads: Appear to the right of the feature video and above the video suggestions list.
  • Overlay ads: Semi-transparent overlay ads that appear on the lower 20% portion of your video.
  • Skippable video ads: Skippable video ads allow viewers to skip ads after 5 seconds, if they choose. Inserted before, during, or after the main video.
  • Non-skippable video ads: Non-skippable video ads must be watched before your video can be viewed. These ads can appear before, during, or after the main video.
  • Bumper ads: Non-skippable video ads of up to 6 seconds that must be watched before your video can be viewed.
  • Sponsored cards: Sponsored cards display content that may be relevant to your video, such as products featured in the video. Viewers will see a teaser for the card for a few seconds. They can also click the icon in the top right corner of the video to browse the cards.

The amount of options might be overwhelming at first, but advertising on YouTube becomes simpler when you dive into your campaigns. Each advertising display that YouTube offers meets distinct marketing goals. The biggest difference between YouTube and other ad channels is that you have the ability to serve skippable video ads, called TrueView.

This YouTube employee explains TrueView ads (while surrounded with puppies):

What is the best content for the platform?

One of the reasons many brands haven’t embraced YouTube yet is because they don’t feel comfortable creating video content. The truth is, you don’t need video creation skills to have your ads appear on the network. You can still serve traditional display or text ads to your audience. Since YouTube is a video platform at its core, however, video ads often deliver the best results.

So, if you’re going to try your hand at making videos, how do you make one that captures your audience’s attention and ultimately drive them to be your customer? Try these tips:

  • Pique the viewer’s interest early. It’s extremely important that you capture your audience’s attention right away because audiences are easily distracted and YouTube ads can be skipped. Get to your brand’s message quickly instead of building on a long introduction.
  • Tailor to your target audience: As you’re developing your creative, keep in mind that different demographics have certain expectations for how a video looks. Older generations might still respond to advertising units that resemble television ads, while  audiences under the age of 24 respond better to non-traditional approaches.
  • Rely on sounds: Inherently, videos are thought of as primarily visual, but they are just as reliant on sound as they are on image. Often times, users play video in the background of their device. Make sure your audio is engaging and clear so your prospective customer will be able to identify your brand whether they are watching or listening.


How long should my video advertisement be?

This is one of the biggest questions brands have when they begin to create video ads for YouTube. There is no simple answer to the question, but several studies have found that different lengths have different benefits. YouTube explains their findings in a report about ad-length research:

How do I target my audiences?

As an advertising platform, YouTube combines scalability with detailed data so that your company’s advertisements will be powerfully effective. The vast set of YouTube targeting options is always evolving, but include several core attributes like demographic group, interests and affinities, and behavior. View all targeting options here.

To begin running a campaign and access these target options, you need have a Google Ads account. This is a great benefit for advertisers. By incorporating video options into the core advertising platform, Google allows brands to develop campaigns that cover a variety of channels (search, display ads on partner sites, YouTube).

Using Google Ads also enables the campaign creation process to move more quickly, since marketers are already familiar with the platform. Running a YouTube campaign is very much like running a search campaign, using a similar interface but with additional options.

Once you’re inside your Google Ads account, you can select “All video campaigns” to begin creating. Follow along with this video below for step-by-step directions on getting started.

Should my ad appear in a contextually similar video?

The short answer: yes! Contextual advertising is the placement of advertisements on websites or in videos that are directly related to the ad you’re running. This is a great targeting technique that ensures ads are seen by relevant audiences. Users searching for specific content are more likely to click on display or overlay advertisements that stem from the same category.

Video advertisements especially allows brands to create emotional, time-sensitive messages. Check out this Christmas-time miracle from WestJet:

How do I know if my ads are working?

After your campaigns begin running, you’ll want to check their performance on a regular basis. While the dashboard has 25+ metrics available, focus on the ones that are most relevant to your campaigns’ goals. Generally, though, there are four metrics that you should always look over.

  • Views: The number of times people watched or engaged with your video ad. It’s also valuable to note that TrueView ad views will also count towards your video’s public YouTube view count only if a video is longer than 11 seconds.
  • Unique cookies: The number of cookies specific to an individual browser on a user’s computer. These cookies save users’ settings on certain websites and track how visitors arrive at and interact with websites, which is helpful for retargeting.
  • Clicks: The number of times people clicked on your video. Clicks can help you understand how well your ad is appealing to people who see it.
  • Video viewership: How often a video is played to 25%, 50%, 75% or 100% of its length. Also known as quartile reporting.

These metrics are great to look at, but you’ll need to take action to optimize and improve them once you have developed a performance baseline. Experiment with every variable of your ad, including the ad’s length, the tone of its copy and diverse visuals. Like in other digital channels, the smallest changes can have a large  impact on performance. As you get comfortable with the platform, try asking viewers to take different actions on your ads as well.


What are some practices to increase the effectiveness of my YouTube ads?

Another benefit of advertising on YouTube is that it easily integrates with other parts of the Internet. For example, YouTube ads can directly link to a Google Shopping page. This dramatically shortens the path to conversions and increases the effectiveness of your advertising.

This interactivity combined with a growing audience, powerful targeting options, and detailed reporting make a strong case for not only experimenting with YouTube advertising, but making it one of your brand’s primary channels.

Learn more about how to drive traffic to your other digital platforms with this video by YouTube Advertisers:

Want to use YouTube advertising to reach new audiences and boost your brand? Starnes Digital has all the tools to help you produce better results and grow your business. Fill out the form below to contact us and get started today!