Image via CrunchBase
Let’s agree right away that YouTube’s Sponsored Video isn’t the next Google Killer.
It’s not even the next Yahoo killer, even though comScore recently reported that YouTube is now the second largest search engine. Fittingly, around the time that the comScore news broke, Google publicly launched search-triggered Sponsored Video ads on YouTube. Does this mean marketers need to consider YouTube over Yahoo and Microsoft?
It’s not going to quite work out that way. First, it’s helpful to understand how YouTube search ads work:
- You need to promote a video that’s on YouTube. This is designed to drive video views, not site traffic.
- You must have uploaded the video through your YouTube account. For my trial, I used this video I titled “Soufflecam,” a grainy, shaky shot of a waiter serving chocolate soufflé while at a dinner with New York Times columnist David Pogue.
- You can target videos for words and phrases, and they’re supposed to be relevant to the video, though I’ve found many ads running on completely irrelevant terms. Presumably Google is focusing on driving up inventory for now rather than fine-tuning relevance. For my video, I used phrases like “chocolate soufflé” — surely a top query.
- Ads run on a cost-per-click basis.This is all very different from search advertising. With a typical search engine marketing campaign, not only are direct response metrics critical, but you get penalized for branding messaging. With sponsored videos, you have some flexibility to include branding, and you’re promoting content.
Taking a step back, the consumer mindset is very different on Google and YouTube. On Google, a consumer might be looking to buy a new car. On YouTube, a consumer might be looking for a cool car commercial. Viewing that commercial might improve various branding metrics, but there will be a large percentage of people who just want to watch the commercial that everyone’s talking about.Google and YouTube also differ in terms of the marketers they attract. Google AdWords opened up to everyone. It got to the point where marketers stopped asking if they should advertise on Google and instead asked how much they could spend there while still reaping a return on ad spending. Google’s not the most important platform for every marketer, but every marketer needs to consider it, and just about everyone can get at least some value out of it.
The first step, as Activision learned, is uploading good content. There’s no official Quality Score, but don’t get lulled into a false sense of complacency. While Google won’t judge you here, your potential customers will.