YouTube Advertising: The Strengths and Pitfalls

by Nick Beltramo

Breaking: YouTube advertising is one of the best tools an advertiser can use, but in order to utilize it correctly we must understand our demographics, their user journey and the proper length of video to utilize.

Read time: 3 minutes, 45 seconds

YouTube advertising can be a marketer’s most powerful tool or greatest enemy depending on how they use it. Without utilizing proper targeting, understanding your user journey and knowing the right length of video, a YouTube campaign is destined to flop. The good news is that these obstacles can easily be navigated if you know what to look for.

1. Targeting

Knowing who makes up your target demographics is the first step to any good marketing campaign, especially for YouTube campaigns. YouTube allows for direct targeting of individual accounts based on location, age, gender, parental status, household income, interests and more. With these tools comes great power, but it also means that it is crucial for marketers to have an in-depth understanding of their customers and the demographics they want to reach.

This targeting also allows YouTube to be accessible to companies both large and small. A giant corporation can do sweeping and comprehensive nationwide campaigns that hit every feasible demographic that could be even remotely interested in them. On the other hand, a small mom and pop corner store can do direct marketing solely to the town and 15 miles around the town that they operate out of. These tools make YouTube both flexible and immensely easy to use for marketers of all budgets.

2. The User Journey

The best laid plans can crumble if there isn’t any end game strategy involved in a campaign, which is why planning where to send people who are ingesting your media is such a crucial and often overlooked step. The biggest pitfall most companies are guilty of is simply sending their potential customers to a generic landing page. Sure, it is branded, beautiful, maybe even all encompassing, but when we look at the funnel that is the user journey, the more steps we as marketers give the client to fall off the less our campaigns translate to sales. These campaigns will drive up homepage traffic, but they will not get the job done at the end of the day, after all, we are after a goal like revenue or brand awareness, not just pretty analytics.

The best way to avoid the pitfall of the generic digital campaign is to create a great strategy. If you are creating a YouTube video about, I don’t know, being the best marketing agency in town, send people to a contact us page, or a learn more style case study. In other words, send your clients directly to their next step, don’t make them work for it because chances are, they probably won’t.

3. Length vs. Budget

This last topic takes a bit more thought than the previous two. The way YouTube advertising works is that you as a marketer are only charged for each complete view that you receive, meaning that if you post a full 60 second video, you are only charged for each full 60 second view that you receive. Now if you are familiar at all with YouTube, you understand that asking for a customer to sit through a full minute of content unrelated to their desired video is tantamount to asking them to run a full marathon; it’s a tough sell. You’ll get the occasional person who is truly interested, but roughly 50% of your ad dollars will probably go to “Absentee watchers” or people who have YouTube on in the background just to have something to listen to who are not actively engaged.

YouTube helped this issue by taking a page out of Vine’s playbook and utilizing the unskippable 6 second video ad. This means that as a marketer you will receive 100% viewership since these ads cannot be skipped and generally hit a more engaged audience. The downside is that you are paying for every single time your ad is on a screen, there is no weeding out of uninterested parties who would normally skip your content, thereby saving you the cost of a view, you are at the mercy of your targeting. Depending on your strategy, the 6 second video spot could be a revolutionary way to hit an otherwise difficult to reach demographic, the “skippers”.

All in all, YouTube can be one of the most versatile tools in any marketer’s playbook. When coupled with excellent targeting, a comprehensive strategy and a great understanding of the user journey, YouTube can do wonders for a company’s marketing plan and their overall bottom line. YouTube has options that are perfect for almost any team, if you’d like to learn more about using YouTube for your business, read our blog.

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