An Introduction to YouTube Ads

Lights, Camera, Advertise...


It’s no secret to us, a digital marketing agency in Tokyo, or anyone in the Land of the Rising Sun for that matter, that YouTube is an absolute beast here in Japan. With 65 million people regularly watching, YouTube has the power to reach up to 51.6% of the population here in Japan (and likely even more when you account for those who don’t have their own account).


Moreover, the video streaming platform is owned by Google meaning that ads on YouTube can leverage the massive amount of data that the search engine possesses. Especially if you’re already tapping out the available audiences on Facebook and Instagram, YouTube ads are an option that brands simply cannot ignore.


Why YouTube Ads Matter

To begin with, understand that YouTube ads draw from the vast reservoirs of data that Google possesses. As such, they regularly have high degrees of intent baked into them. Just as with search ads, YouTube ads can be targeted at people who have a search history of something related to a company’s offering (this is especially helpful for products for which there’s a need but the buyer is not yet cognizant of it). Additionally, it’s also possible to publish ads on the channels of content creators in the same niche as you.


How YouTube Ads Work

Now, what makes YouTube different from other social media platforms is that many of the ad placements can’t be skipped. While there are indeed several options for where to publish on YouTube, the standard go-to is known as “TrueView in-stream.” With this offering, viewers are essentially a captive audience for five seconds and the advertiser is only charged when the entirety of an ad is seen or when thirty seconds elapse. In a bit of a jab at the way the digital world treats “impressions,” the name TrueView comes from the fact that the one watching the ad has ACTUALLY seen a good portion of it.


Unfortunately, most media buyers in Japan seem to fail to adequately grasp the ramifications of TrueView. You see, given the fact that advertisers have a guaranteed five seconds of view time, we can surmise that these initial few moments are therefore critical to capturing attention. Likewise, the point at which an advertiser is charged also gives rise to another important anchor point.


With these two TrueView timings set in stone, an optimal format for YouTube ad creative emerges. Because of this, it actually makes little sense to run advertisements made for other mediums like nation TV (a favorite of many Japanese YouTube advertisers).


How to Be Successful

So, what is this secret formula?


Basically, you have five seconds to hook your prospects. Thereafter, you’ll want to spend the next twenty-five trying to actively discourage anyone who isn’t highly qualified to convert. This way, you’ll make the most use of your guaranteed time while also paying less overall for ads due to the fact you’re only ever charged when someone views thirty seconds or more or completes the video. By adopting this format and sourcing new creative specifically for YouTube, we’ve been able to greatly reduce wasted ad spend.


While TrueView in-stream ads are our bread and butter here at AdVertize, we’ve also had some great success with other offerings on YouTube too. For example, TrueView discovery ads are also a superb placement. With this offering, you can send paid traffic to an existing video on YouTube, thereby bolstering the views and engagement. Moreover, just like with Google search ads, you’ll only ever pay for TrueView discovery ads when someone clicks. Since you’re not paying for impressions, this means that you want to tailor the thumbnail and video headline to only resonate with actual converters.


When it comes to audiences, one of our favorite plays with YouTube ads is to do targeting based on recent but not immediate search history. For example, say we are trying to sell a high end pillow that aids in sleep. We could do TrueView ads and target people who had searched for issues related to insomnia and other sleep issues a few days after their initial query. This way, they are no longer in the same information gathering mindset when they searched but likely still haven’t solved the problem. It’s a great way to tactfully place your brand on a potential prospect’s radar.


As far as we are concerned at AdVertize, a digital marketing agency in Tokyo, YouTube ads are a great complement to the basic blocking and tackling that we do with Facebook ads. That said, our experience has shown that our cost per acquisition always comes out lower on the Zuckerberg-owned suite of platforms.


Alas, as we’ve alluded to before, it can be pretty easy to tap out the number of buyers on Facebook and Instagram when you’ve got bigger budgets and are only marketing to Japanese. In cases like these, YouTube is the perfect partner to keep on bringing in sales and leads.


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