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With well over one billion users and projected net U.S. video ad revenues of $2.59 billion in 2017, YouTube has become more than just a major tool for marketers it is quickly becoming the advertising platform of choice for businesses ranging from “Fortune 500” companies to garage start-ups.
Part of the reason that it is becoming so popular is that it reaches people across user lines that might not normally be exposed to a company’s message. Internet users generally fall into one of two groups, depending on how they primarily utilize the web, those that are looking for information or searchers and those that use the net chiefly for social interaction.
Being the second most used online search engine with more searches than Yahoo, Bing and Explorer combined and at the same time, being considered the third largest social media network, places it in a unique position to reach both groups. When you add in the versatility that comes from being able to combine both video and audio messaging into a single platform it is easy to see why so many companies are turning to YouTube to engage their target audiences and tell their stories.
“When we’re focused on telling relatable stories or sharing beneficial ideas with our fans and customers, our color-changing clothing and accessories need to become more than just products on a shelf,” said Scott Brady, VP of Communications for Del Sol, a leading global brand of color-changing apparel and accessories. “We’re trying to get people smiling, making memories, and spending time together, and our color-changing nail art channel on YouTube does just that – it brings our products to life in a very real, do-it-yourself way.”
As with any tool, though, the key to gaining the biggest advantage from its use is in knowing how to properly employ it. Just as you would not drive a nail with a handsaw, not all YouTube ads are or should be created equal. Each should be a carefully thought-out piece that fits into an overall marketing strategy.
The first step in designing winning YouTube ads may seem obvious but is often overlooked by advertisers who are unfamiliar with or unsure about using this medium. That is defining your audience and designing specific content to target each specific demographic group you would like to reach.
In fact, it is a good idea to not only produce separate content for each of your target groups but to have separate channels for each. Of the top 100 advertisers on YouTube 56 have 10 or more channels, each targeting a specific sector.
To Skip Or Not To Skip
If you’re not planning on using content marketing as part of your overall advertising then you will first need to decide between using skippable ads or non-skippable ads. The names are pretty self-explanatory and both have their pros and cons.
Non-skippable ads, of course, are ads that people are forced to watch through to their end. Their advantage is that they do generally have higher engagement rates but on the flip side, they also have higher abandonment rates and many viewers may be turned off by the fact of not being able to click past them.
According to Michael Kohler, the CEO of XtremeSocial and TubeMillionaire who makes up to $50,000 with every video he uploads, “Watch time is one of the best ways to measure how much attention people pay to a video. The more people are watching an ad the better the brand performs in metrics such as consideration and awareness.”
If you do opt for a non-skippable ad then it is best to limit them to between 15 and 30 seconds to avoid people simply closing the videos. Skippable ads, on the other hand, can be as long or short as you like and provided your copy grabs the viewer/listener quickly have a better chance of delivering your complete message.
This last sentence brings up another important point to remember. According to a recent study reported by the Reuters Institute, 29% of YouTube users listen to videos while doing something else. You should have your ad copy created with this in mind. Your copywriters should be thinking radio advertisements when creating the voiceover content for your ads.
This article truly only scratches the surface of what is a very complicated subject. For your best opportunities for success remember that an ad is still an ad and the S.E.E. (Short, Engaging, Entertaining) principle still applies. As with any marketing campaign, you should closely track your numbers. Do split testing and be prepared to adjust your ads targeting and content the same as you would any other ad campaign.
And oh yeah, have some fun.
This article originally appeared on Forbes.