A YouTube Primer for Media Planning Success

Online video has most certainly gone mainstream. A July 2011 Pew Internet study found that 71 percent of online adults in the U.S. had used video-sharing sites like YouTube or Vimeo. Recent comScore data (May 2012) has the total monthly unique video viewers at 180.5 million, consuming nearly 36.6 billion video content views, working out to over 1,300 minutes of video content viewed per viewer that month. Among the sites for monthly video ad content viewed, Hulu and Google Sites (mostly YouTube) ranked as the top two with over three billion video ads served between them.

With video attracting so many eyeballs, these days media strategy needs to consider online video, which means the media planner needs to understand the space as well. To help get you acquainted, with the help of Baljeet Singh, group product manager at YouTube, I assembled this primer.

    • Strategy. What content experience you want to deliver to users typically dictates what kind of ad you want to buy on YouTube, so you’ll need to determine that upfront. What audience do you want to target and how? Richard Petty Driving Experience, for example, focuses its marketing initiatives in its target geographies closest to its race tracks to help improve conversions. What kind of user engagement are you seeking and what will be the performance metrics by which you’ll measure your campaign’s success? You can even think of YouTube as a testing ground for video ad creative concepts and targeting.

      For video ads, YouTube encourages businesses to stick to :15 or :30 videos (it sees twice the drop off for :30 ads as for :15 ones). For videos posted to channel pages, it varies depending on your purpose. Shorter videos (around five minutes) tend to be easier for viewers to digest. If you’re tackling a complex topic (such as how to build a fence), consider editing your videos into “video snacks,” shorter clips that can be watched in succession.

    • Buying ads on YouTube. There are two ways to buy ads on YouTube: auction and reserved placement. Auctioned ads are purchased through AdWords; a reserved placement needs to go through a YouTube sales rep. Reserved placements generally apply to large-budget, brand-building campaigns.
    • Types of ads on YouTube. You can buy nothing more complicated than a text ad or display ads: MPUs (mid-page units) 300×250 display ad, which appears to the right of a video, or InVideo ads, a 480×70 display overlay ad, which shows while a video is being played. Generally, these ads take the user off YouTube and onto another site or landing page.

      For video ad creative, there are in-stream ads (video ads that can be up to 30 seconds long, and appear before a user watches a video); four types of pay-per-performance TrueView ad options (in-stream, in-slate, in-search, and in-display); mobile (ads delivered through m.youtube.com); First Watch (your ad would be the first ad that most viewers will see on YouTube, no matter what video they choose); home page masthead and roadblock ads (you’re the only advertiser on YouTube’s home page for 24 hours). Video ads take users to an advertiser’s channel page.

    • Campaign set-up. With auction campaigns, you set your budget, locations, and language, target groups (see below), frequency capping, and an optional call-to-action overlay.
    • Targeting campaigns. Unlike AdWords in YouTube there are no ad groups; instead you need to use “targeting groups,” though you can set up more than one targeting group in a campaign to help deliver your ad to different targeted parameters. Targeting parameters include demographics, topics, interests, placements, remarketing lists, content keywords, and search keywords.


  • Measure campaigns. YouTube Analytics provides useful unique viewer and video stats like views, audience retention, subscribers, viewer sources and demographics, call-to-action clicks, and mobile access. YouTube claims that video ads on its site drive a 20 percent increase in traffic to an advertiser’s website and a 5 percent increase in searches for an advertiser’s business.


Some Advice From YouTube

YouTube’s Singh reminds advertisers that “What you want to be doing is building out an audience of people that are loyally coming back to watch more of your videos. You’re an advertiser but you’re also a content creator. Know your audience – one of the biggest myths about YouTube is that you have to have a funny viral hit in order to be successful on YouTube,” but humor doesn’t always work in building real business. You might instead want to consider using how-to videos. “There are actually three times as many searches for the term ‘how to’ than for ‘music video’ on YouTube,” says Singh.

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