SMXcast: Tactics to improve your YouTube video ad performance
Ashley Mo discusses how to run video and search ads together to increase conversions.
For search marketers, YouTube offers access to 1.9 billion logged-in global users per month, making it the second largest search engine. And, Google reports that advertisers buying YouTube video ads in addition to search ads see, on average, 8% higher search conversion volume, 3% higher search conversion rates and 4% lower search CPAs (compared to advertisers who only run search ads).
However, YouTube’s automated bidding algorithm isn’t right for everyone. At SMX Advanced, Ashley Mo, regional director for 3Q Digital, discussed a few intelligent tactics that can improve your video campaign performance. Listen to her full Insights session below and head to the bottom for the full transcript.
Mo also provided Search Engine Land readers with some additional tips on automated bidding:
- If you don’t have any conversion history for YouTube campaigns in your account, start with Max Conversions bidding and switch to Target CPA after the account has generated at least 30 conversions.
- Wait at least 7-10 days prior to making bid changes. It is normal for performance to fluctuate, but over a 30 day period following an initial learning period, performance should be more stable. Use volume as an indicator of whether to change bids.
- Campaign structure – separate different targeting types at the campaign level. As much as you may be tempted to, don’t change ad group level bids when making optimizations, always change at the campaign level.
- Don’t overlay targeting on top of Custom Intent. This will reduce reach for users who have already expressed intent through their search behavior.
- Consider testing micro-conversions like pageviews or an intermediate conversion if volume is limited.
- Use different call-to-actions (with the same video creative) to see if you can improve CTR.
This is the Search Engine Land podcast and I am your host George Nguyen. What you’re about to listen to, in particular, is an edition of SMXcast — content that comes straight from our SMX conference speakers and attendees.
You’re about to hear from Ashley Mo, a regional director at 3Q Digital. At SMX Advanced in Seattle, she delivered an Insights session on outsmarting YouTube’s automated bidding to drive more conversions. Enjoy and happy advertising.
Hi everyone. My name is Ashley. I have a lot of experience working with clients across verticals and specifically in YouTube. We’ve been working on trying to make it work for direct response, not just awareness and have managed to do that successfully with over $5 million in YouTube investment and hopefully a lot more. And, last year we took home Google’s premiere partner award in video innovation and, lucky for you all today, I’m going to share all of my secrets.
So to start off, the biggest news to YouTube is really that Google released TrueView for action into public beta this year. Some of you may have tested it last year, but now anyone can test it. So, by quick show of hands, who here has already run YouTube TrueView for action campaigns? Okay, it looks like maybe 5%, which is great that you’re here because I’m about to talk to you about why you should be testing it.
So, first, what is TrueView for action? So, if you are watching videos on YouTube, you’ve probably already been seeing these videos. This is an example of an ad and notably there’s this call to action overlay, which is designed to take someone outside of YouTube. So, that’s really the biggest difference here is before YouTube was focused on having branding campaigns and they wanted people to stay engaged and stay within the platform. And now they’re trying to monetize it and they realize that for advertisers to be successful, they need to be able to drive people to their landing page or to their app, because then they have a chance to take action. Whereas if they’re watching a video, maybe they’ll convert later. It’ll be a view through conversion. It’s hard to measure. So, by creating TrueView for action with a call to action overlay and the companion banner on the side, it’s making it easier for people on desktop, on mobile, on tablet to click on the ad and to engage and potentially convert.
So, why as search marketers, should we care about YouTube? It is a different platform even though it’s still available in the same Google Ads UI. So, a couple of statistics, there’s a ton of people on YouTube watching videos. I mean who here watches videos on YouTube? Probably everyone, right? So 1.9 billion people, 1 billion hours is a completely difficult to fathom and you might not think of YouTube as a search engine, but it is, and it’s actually the second largest search engine right after Google, so a great place to expand from search. And then based on some research that Google has done, they’ve seen that advertisers who run YouTube in addition to search ended up seeing an 8% higher search conversion volume and 3% higher search conversion rate. So there is actual incrementality by running both campaigns. And I can say anecdotally, we worked with a video streaming client and we used to run keywords on videos in their library. No one was searching for those, period. Sometimes those keywords wouldn’t even serve. And then when we started to promote them heavily on YouTube, we started to see searches for those and conversions. So it definitely does drive impact and with TrueView for action, it’s going to be easier to measure what happens after someone sees your ad. So that’s why you should care about YouTube.
And then the next question is, well, how exactly do I make it work for me? How do I drive conversions? This is really the tough part. So I have three tips for you today, but please come talk to me after if you want to learn more. I could talk for hours about YouTube. So my first tip is that contrary to what Google tells you, I think you should actually limit your reach when you first launch a campaign. Especially nowadays you have to use target CPA, which is automated bidding, with a TrueView for action campaign. It’s machine learning, so it takes time to learn. And if you allow it to target anyone across YouTube.com or the video partner network on desktop or mobile, it could very easily spend hundreds of dollars, not drive many conversions and you’ve already used up a large portion of your budget before you even gotten meaningful results. So I would say that you should always start conservatively. Think about what works for you on search. I think, for the most part, desktop-only targeting is going to work better than mobile as well as opting out of video partners. I can say that from experience, the YouTube.com traffic is premium. We see people click at a much higher rate and convert at a much higher rate. So just make sure you go through all of your campaign settings when you set up your campaign to make sure that you’re not — uncheck a lot of the things that Google defaults to, to make sure you’re kind of limiting the scope of it. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t ever run on mobile, because that is where over half of the YouTube views are. But, once you see that performance is consistent and that the target CPA stabilizes, then you can use that as an option to expand for scale.
So next tip is — this is pretty exciting for anyone who’s new to running on YouTube — you can actually use some of your insights from your search campaigns on YouTube with the new custom intent targeting, which is only available with TrueView for action. So you can actually target people who are actively researching your brand or your competitors or even non-brand keywords with video ads. You just pump in all the keywords and it creates an audience and then you can target that group. And some of the best practices here are going to be the same as search: You wouldn’t put all your different keyword types into one campaign. You’d want to separate them out so you can more easily measure performance. So I’d recommend setting up different buckets based on different categories like your search campaigns: so brand, competitor prospecting, etc. And that way, after you launch, you can kind of see how the audiences perform relative to each other.
So final tip is about creative. So anyone who’s run any type of video campaign knows that created is the most important thing and that’s what’s going to be key to success. And I know a lot of times it can be hard when you don’t have a lot of bandwidth or creative resources. I can’t tell you how many times clients say, “Oh, we just have this one video. Just go and run with it.” And the problem with that is that if that video doesn’t work well, then well then what do you do, right? You can have the best targeting and the wrong video and you’re not going to hit achieve any success on YouTube. So you should at least have multiple creatives. And that way you can compare performance. And then when your campaign, if it doesn’t do well, then you can see, well, did the view rate vary between the videos? Did the click through rate vary? You have something to compare. Another point about creative is that you don’t necessarily need a high-production video. I’ve seen clients have success with kind of low production where they take still images and kind of create this slide show. There are a lot of great tools out there, like Shakr is one of them, where they have pre-built templates and you can plug in existing images and assets and create a video. So definitely look into those options if you are having trouble coming up with multiple videos.
It is important that you’re captivating your audience very early on. Even though your goal with this campaign is not going to be — your number one goal is going to be at least click through rate; maybe conversion rate. But, if you have a low view rate on your video, then it’s not engaging, so make sure that you’re getting their attention right away.
So, just to recap this very short presentation: number one, limit your traffic to desktop traffic only on YouTube.com, and then make sure that you are using existing knowledge you have from search, testing that in YouTube, and make sure you have more than one creative. Thank you.