YouTube Video Ad Optimization: Send in the SEMs!

Yt_chartOk, I know YouTube hasn’t officially started running video ads but they are testing. So it’s time to start thinking about how to optimize them. Well, maybe not so fast.

The video ad production, media buying, results analysis and optimization will likely be done by folks that have little experience purchasing media based on user intent. Who would be most successful at purchasing media and optimizing performance based on user goals and content? Search Engine Marketers, of course.

It will be very interesting to see how the larger multi-service ad agencies deal with this. For the SEM Agencies my fear is that they will not get the chance to prove their mettle and reap the financial rewards in this medium even though they are best served to execute everything but the creative. They will not be the only ones that lose in this scenario. Users will also lose if video ad buying is not done by those experienced with relevance driven cost per action models and can optimize the spend side and sell side accordingly. Let’s face it, traditional agencies, the IAB, et al, have not figured out what to do with video ads over the past few years.

But wait…I see a white horse.

That stallion of Troy is Google. And they clearly know that delivering relevance is a win for everyone, especially themselves. So we can be assured (I think) that the platform will be there. The question again becomes who will execute on it?

I’ve already heard traditional agency folks argue that watching a video online is a passive event akin to watching TV whereas search is an intent driven event. However, the keyword and tag are similar in that they provide insight into the user interest and the content being delivered. Goal oriented marketers can leverage this data as a window of opportunity to gain a share of user attention in a similar fashion to the way paid ads vie for attention among the natural search engine results. Because of this I think we’ll see very high CTR and conversion rates (especially deferred conversions) from video ads since it’s likely if the user has time to watch a video they have time to do something else immediately afterwards that would be of interest to them. So while the act is passive there is a forward driving goal based event that precedes it and some user action that will occur after it.

Like search, the data needed for performance optimization in this environment need not be in the tags themselves, though ROI will resolve to the tag level, the details need to be in the ads and landing pages. This requires a much different mindset for video ad production than we have seen to date. I don’t think that the traditional agencies will have the speed to change gears and roll off video ads the same way SEMs can roll out different landing pages for different keywords. And who’s to say that Google’s YouTube platform will even serve video ads at all? It’s quite possible that the ads will be in the spirit of Google, (gasp) text.

This would follow my belief that video ads, long thought of by many as branding vehicles are in fact better suited for direct marketing. Of course Google wants the brand dollars so it’s likely a hybrid model will emerge but online video can be the greatest direct response channel in the greatest direct response medium ever created. This is also the marketing methodology that’s tried and true to Google.

Where I think video ads will skew towards traditional media marketing is the persuasive elements necessary to get a user to take action. If search is all about presenting your message to the right user at the right time to match their recovery or discovery goals, video will be more about awareness and persuasion that can then be complemented by some type of user action. Think infomercial.

It will be fascinating to see how this all plays out in 2007. I have been giving lots of thought around how one might optimize video ads in this scenario and I hope to share some of that with you soon. Stay tuned!



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One response to “YouTube Video Ad Optimization: Send in the SEMs!”

  1. bj Avatar

    Hey-since you’re a YouTuber, you might want to check this out… There’s a video company that’s recruiting YouTubers and if they like your stuff, (and they should) they will actually pay you when your video gets a hit. Here’s their link… It’s about time the people who make the videos get some of the money instead of it all going to YouTube!


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