Your art, our science: Video creative that drives impact on YouTube

With more than a billion viewers each month, YouTube is the place the world chooses to watch. As a platform dedicated to sight, sound and motion, great video ads work well here.  Whether they’re 30 second spots built for TV, 4 minute short films, or 6 second bumper ads, we work to make every video ad have the greatest Watchtime, Audibility, Viewability and Engagement (WAVE), to help ensure you get the full impact of your work.

As thousands of creatives gather at Cannes Lions this week, many are thinking about what makes great video ad creative. Great storytelling in the digital age is both art and science. While we prefer to leave the art up to you, our science has shown that the ads that tend to work best on YouTube are the ones that tend to work best for today’s viewing experience. Whether you are building for our TrueView in-stream ads, which let viewers skip after 5 seconds, or for TV, today’s viewers are impatient. They have a trigger finger on their phone, tablet or remote.  So you better catch their attention right from the start.  

In multiple research studies we did last year, which analyzed hundreds of TrueView campaigns, we saw four key elements emerge:

  • Brand placement matters: Ads that showed the brand visually in the first 5 seconds had higher ad recall and brand awareness lift.
  • No sound? Less impact: We tested 280 campaigns and found that among users exposed to ads with both sight and sound, ad recall had a lift of 43%. Among users exposed to video ads that had no sound, ad recall was significantly lower at 31%.1
  • Calls to action drive impact: We saw higher brand awareness lift among ads with clear calls to action, such as an invitation to visit a YouTube channel or brand website.
  • Time counts: We found that there is a consistent relationship between how long an ad is viewable and increase in brand awareness and consideration. The longer a user views your ad, the higher the lift in these two metrics.
All of these factors help ensure engagement. On average, we’ve seen that viewers who completed TrueView ads are 23x more likely to visit or subscribe to a brand channel, watch more by that brand, or share the brand video. And you can amp up Brand Lift results by targeting great video ads on top channels through Google Preferred. When you combine these, you can ‘ride the WAVE to success.’  

For more insights on video creative, check out our latest Unskippable Labs Experiment with Mondelez International and Droga5. If you’re in Cannes this week, swing by our lightning talk,  Advertising in an Age of Infinite Choice, and come relax at #YouTubeBeach.

Posted by Kate Stanford, Head of Global Advertiser Marketing at YouTube