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Why your TV ad won’t work on YouTube - and what to do instead



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July 8, 2021 | 5 min read

In my last post, I shared a few reasons why you should be targeting high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) on YouTube

In my last post, I shared a few reasons why you should be targeting high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) on YouTube.

Research that we conducted at Receptional showed that online video – and YouTube in particular – is a popular source for HNWIs as they make buying decisions.

And YouTube’s custom audiences enable you to accurately target HNWIs, including your competitors’ customers.

But what about content?

The sexy stuff.

What content should we be showing?

Well, you may be familiar with this recent Aviva ad. It’s a lovely story, well told.

It’s a brilliant TV ad.

And yet. And yet … it’s not a great mobile ad.

It’s a difficult watch, the story – and the branding – get lost on a small screen.

Many advertisers are still building for TV with a ‘lead in, build a climax and big reveal’ narrative format.

Yet on YouTube, you have to generate interest within the first 5 secs.

The forced 30‑second ad spot doesn’t fit the way people watch today — entirely on their own terms, seamlessly shifting between devices and channels

What does work?

There are four magic ingredients for successful YouTube ads.

1. Transform the narrative. In other words, grab the viewers’ attention in the first five seconds. Establish your brand. Show your logo.

2. Think mobile first. If your ad can’t be seen it’s unlikely to be remembered.

3. Customise your content. In other words, you want your imagery to resonate with your audience. We have a client that targets parents of young children. And we change the ads so that the audience sees children that are the same age as their own offspring.

4. Finally, tell stories. To tell stories is a human instinct. We love hearing stories. So make sure your ads have a strong narrative.

How do we tell stories in YouTube ads?

Well, let’s imagine. Let’s imagine you’re the marketing director at Deliveroo.

You’re creating an ad for your services. How might that ad look?

Well, there are many different ways to tell a tale.

If you’re starting out, here’s a simple structure you might follow.

We split our 30 second ad into four roughly equal sections.

  • We start with the opening. In the first five seconds we want to grab the viewers’ attention.
  • In the next few seconds we outline the challenge. What’s the difficulty the audience faces? Or, as an alternative, what’s the opportunity?
  • We then offer the solution. We might want to offer proof that the solution works.
  • Finally, we end with a clear call to action. You have to tell the audience what you want them to do next.

It’s a formulaic approach, but a good starting point if you’re creating your first ad.

What if you’re starting out?

If you’re just starting out with YouTube ads, another new feature worth mentioning is YouTube’s Video Ad Builder tool which helps create simplistic video ads from still photos.

If you don’t have lots of video, it's a great tool for getting your foot in the door with YouTube advertising. With very little effort or expense. A great way of testing new audiences, before you invest in a Hollywood director and A-list celebrity endorsements.

Further watching

Finally, I’ll leave you with some ‘further watching’. Here are three examples of YouTube ads worth watching, either for structure. Or because they were incredibly cost-effective to make.

  • This Halifax ad is an explainer video. It uses simple animation effectively.
  • This Deliveroo ad has a nice structure.
  • This Imperfect ad uses still photos to create an engaging video, very cost-effectively.

Driving action

Last but not least, let's talk about perhaps the most important point: driving action and generating leads in the wider user journey.

How do we do that with YouTube?

We'd always recommend and encourage the very aptly-named TrueView for Action ad format. Which does exactly what the name suggests – and encourages viewers to make an enquiry.

It is low-risk:

  • You’re only charged when someone watches 30+ seconds, or interacts by clicking
  • Cost per view is low (£0.01-£0.10 per view to gain good reach)
  • You can supplement the video with banner ads as highlighted below.

I hope you’ve found some of these suggestions useful.

If you'd like to learn more, take a look at our eBooks on how high-net-worth individuals buy online and building your brand on YouTube in 2021. And do get in touch, if you’d like help planning your next YouTube campaign.


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