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Do YouTube Advertisements Really Work? | inSyte Blog

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Do YouTube Advertisements Really Work? Is it Still Worth it For Brands to Invest in YouTube in 2021? 


Well, more accurately, yes in some cases

Despite this, we don’t run YouTube ads ourselves or recommend them to any of our clients (as of writing).

The field of YouTube advertising, like most digital marketing, is a tremendously complex subject because best practices continue to evolve day by day. 

What worked a year, or even a month, ago might not work today. 

To further complicate matters, every business and industry is different and requires different things to succeed in the digital world. 

Your best option is to look at the pros and cons of YouTube Advertising and decide for yourself or consult a professional in the industry for guidance. 

To help you decide, we’re going to go over the main pros and cons of YouTube Advertising (in our opinion) and why we don’t run YouTube ads.

The Pros of YouTube Advertising 

YouTube Ads do have a lot of things going for them. It’s the biggest video sharing platform in the world, and one of the biggest social media platforms. 

It’s owned by Google and integrates well with the rest of the Google suite, allowing you to easily plug in into your SEM strategy or simply take advantage of their advanced targeting features. 

As we’ll go over next, though, it’s not all good news. 

1. TrueView Ads

One of the biggest advantages of running YouTube Ads, in our opinion, is the TrueView Ads format.
TrueView Ads bypass many of the typical problems you might face running video ads.

The most common kind of TrueView Ads are instream ads, where the ad plays before or during a video and users have the option of skipping after five seconds.

The advantage of a TrueView ad is that a view (when you’re charged) is counted only as when someone watches thirty seconds or more of your ad (or the entire thing if its shorter than that).

This reduces the amount of wasted ad spend by giving you a better deal, in that you only pay when users watch the majority of your message. 

2. Great Targeting Options 

As part of the Google suite, YouTube has a great selection of targeting and regarding tools to ensure you’re reaching the right people with your ads. 

Run in conjunction with your website and SEM (search engine marketing) strategy, YouTube can be a great addition to top of mind or brand awareness strategies, as well as reengaging to create sales.

It’s worth noting though, we’re only talking about consumer targeting and not video targeting, i.e. who’s seeing the video not what video our ads are being played on. More on this later. 

3. Enormous Reach 

YouTube is the world’s second-biggest social media platform, right after Facebook. 

This means you’re able to reach an absolutely enormous amount of people on the platform, from all walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds. 

Combined with the advanced targeting tools mentioned above, it can be a great place to engage visually with hard to reach target demographics and spread brand awareness in select markets. 

It’s less ideal for creating direct sales, though, as we’ll cover later. 

4. The World’s Second Biggest Search Engine 

YouTube is also the world’s second-biggest search engine, right behind Google itself. 

This means the platform has many of the same advantages as running an SEM campaign, such as the ability to target search keywords that have high buying intent associated with them. 

It’s, unfortunately, less ideal than Google, however, in that people don’t actually go there looking to buy products. 

But, you can still create great value by targeting adjacent keywords like reviews or new product releases. 

The Cons of YouTube Advertising 

1. People Skipping (Or Bypassing) Ads

As anybody whos’ used YouTube lately can attest, the sheer volume of ads can quickly get annoying. 

This leads to two major problems, which affect advertisers on the platform. Firstly, consumers learn to habitually skip ads without even looking at them.
This means you have to hook them sufficiently in the first 5 seconds, or they will automatically skip your ad.

Secondly, the rise of adblocking software. Less of a problem on devices like smart TVs, “ad blockers” are becoming increasingly common ways to get around YouTube ads by simply blocking them from showing in the first place.

Both of these issues complicate advertising on the platform. 

2. Ad Creation Costs

A lot has changed since the days of traditional marketing, but at least one thing remains the same: creating video ads is expensive.
Now, you can get around this by running static image ads with accompanying audio, but we refer back to the previous issue. 

In order to be effective, a YouTube ad needs to hook the viewer within five seconds

How are you going to do that without investing in creating a truly compelling and interesting video ad?
There’s no real way around it, unfortunately, making YouTube ads is just much more expensive than any other online format. 

3. Poor Conversion Rates

Studies have shown that YouTube ads have among the worst conversion rates of any major digital platform.

This is pretty damning for any campaign aimed at generating sales. 

As for why again we look back to the reasons above. If most people habitually skip your ad if they’re not hooked, or don’t even see it in the first place, their chances of converting go way, way down. 

This doesn’t completely invalidate YouTube as a platform. After all, people run campaigns for many more reasons than just generating sales. But, it means YouTube is a poor fit for most sales-based campaigns. 

4. Less Manual Targeting 

As we mentioned previously, your ability to target consumers on the platform is great. 

What’s not so great, is that it’s hard to choose the videos our ads get shown alongside. 

This has led to trouble for YouTube themselves in recent years, forcing them to review their own targeting policies after major brands pulled out when they found their ads running alongside some very controvertial content.

This is hopefully less of an issue now that they’ve taken measures to combat this, but it’s still worth noting.

The only way to choose whose channel your videos get shown on is manually reaching out and collaborating with individual YouTube creators. 

Conclusion – Why We Don’t Do YouTube Advertising 

YouTube is a great platform and it has been enormously successful for some brands.

That being said, it’s not useful for every brand and every use case. 

The reason we don’t run YouTube ads for our clients is that for most of their situations, it’s just not the best platform.

As an agency focused on creating bottom-line sales, the poor conversion rates on YouTube and the high cost of creating ads are simply a dealbreaker for us when we could be focusing on putting that budget into platforms like Google and Facebook instead. 

We generally find much better returns this away, but again this is just our own experience and this is liable to change in the future. 

YouTube Shopping Ads, for example, have great potential as an e-commerce ad format.

For now, though, it’s simply not the most efficient platform for most of our clients. 


If you enjoyed this article or found it helpful, check out more e-commerce marketing content on the inSyte blog or listen to the inSyte Podcast.

This article was brought to you by Syte.

We’re a specialist e-commerce digital marketing agency dedicated to driving up your bottom line.

If you need any help running your business’ digital marketing strategy, feel free to reach out with the form below or check out our case studies page to see what we’ve been able to do for our clients. 

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