Until today, YouTube is still the most widely used platform for long-form videos. It is the go-to platform for educational and entertainment content.
On most other social platforms, users have little patience for long-form content. But on YouTube, it’s a different story. This platform thrives on videos that can go over 30 minutes at a time. This means users have more attention span per video, free from distractions.
Videos are grouped into categories like fashion, food, travel, automobile, and other hobbies. For brands, this is the perfect way to slot in relevant ads.
YouTube recently dropped a guide to creating effective video ads on its platform, which I will break down here.
Create Impact from the Beginning
There are typically 2 types of ads on YouTube: the long ones and the short ones. Short ones require viewers to watch until the end, while long ones can be skipped after 5 seconds.
Regardless of the format, it is important to create an impact from the beginning. Avoid slow starting and cinematic videos that drag on too long. Start with either a peak story narrative or visual appeal. “Wow” moments get your audience curios and wanting more.
Video Content Quality
Traditionally, video content quality refers to the resolution, setting and production. Today, it means something completely different. Some best produced videos are done using mobile device cameras and apps.
The quality we should be paying attention to these days is the content itself. Tell a compelling story that moves emotions and connect with people.
Gone were the days that ads keep repeating the product name a gazillion times. Today, effective ads create value to the viewer.
Introduce Your Brand Immediately
It is true that there are ads that can successfully go on forever without revealing their brand. The Thais are incredibly adept at this. But those ads require expert storytelling, which most of us cannot afford.
Start your ads strong with your product and branding first. This is more important if your ads are skippable. It would be a giant waste if people skip your ad before they know what it is about.
Even if people do not end up buying from you, your initial branding can still create a lot of awareness.
YouTube has a compilation of the best bumper ads that introduced their brands from the beginning. All these ads were able to create impact in 6 seconds or less.
Sound is Important
When building ads for social media these days, we overlook the importance of sound. It is understandable if you’re building for Facebook and Instagram. But YouTube is a platform almost everyone watches with the sound on.
Invest time on sound that matches with your ads. Pay attention to high quality narrations as well. High impact and uplifting music immediately connects with viewers.
Make sure your music has no copyright protection, as they
will be muted by YouTube. There are a tonne of free and good copyright-free
audio in YouTube itself. One good source is Audio Library.
Build for YouTube
We are all forgiven for trying to take the easy way out with ad content. We would create one ad then repurpose the same thing across all platforms. The only things that change are the length and aspect ratio.
To be fair, this method works just fine. But what if there is a way to increase the chance of engagement?
In 2017 Toyota Canada launched a 4.9 second video of the new Yaris parking. Granted, it was a rather unconventional slide parking that most cannot achieve. But the ad’s purpose was to showcase its handling as well. At the end of the reel, the driver ran out and tapped at the corner where the ‘Skip Ad’ button is located.
The Toyota ad was built specially for YouTube. It was able to pack all the information in a high impact manner within 5 seconds. And it added a little fun bit where the river tried to tap the Skip Ad button.
Tweaking an ad content for the platforms will greatly increase engagement and recall.
Build for Mobile
Mobile screens are smaller, so higher resolution videos may not be a big concern. There are other factors that play a bigger role, though.
For example, captions and titles need to be bigger than traditional television. There are also people using mobile devices on Battery Saver mode, which darkens the screen. Having high contrast texts and visuals makes the content easier to see.
Go Forth and Create
It is difficult to apply a one-size-fits-all method in ads today. The level of user attention on each social media platform is vastly different. Spending the additional time tailoring ads for YouTube will improve your engagement and recall.
Advertising on mobile removes some hurdles but also introduces new ones. For example, video resolution isn’t the most important issue anymore due to smaller screen sizes.
But speed is. Viewers have so little patience today, that a 6-second ad feels like an eternity. Advertisers need to adapt to these changes if we want to continue to make effective content.
 “20 Great Bumper Ads – YouTube.” 12 Nov. 2018, https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlXZh4sJtb8FeCuXyZ90OyUCkpfzs1GtI. Accessed 7 Nov. 2019.
 “Audio Library — Music for content creators ….” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCht8qITGkBvXKsR1Byln-wA. Accessed 7 Nov. 2019. “Toyota – Yaris 4.9 second parking (Canada, 2017) – YouTube.” 31 Jan. 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMPRXxzYFdg. Accessed 7 Nov. 2019.
 “Personalized Videos Boost Social Media Engagement.” 27 Dec. 2018, https://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2018/12/personalized-videos-boost-social-media-engagement/. Accessed 7 Nov. 2019.