brands: give YouTube advertising the attention it deserves!

The secrets of successful YouTube advertising.

The fact that Google and YouTube are the two most popular websites worldwide is something we now know. But that YouTube, alongside Google is increasingly claiming a key role in consumers’ online orientation phase is perhaps less top-of-mind. YouTube is the most widely used platform when it comes to researching their future (Forbes, 2021). So your future consumer is willing to be triggered and captivated through video content. The need for spot-on advertising on YouTube is growing! But how do you do this? I give you; your three brand principles for a successful YouTube advertising strategy.


The traditional view of video ads is that they have to be of a 30, 15 or 6 second spot with high production costs attached to it. Although many major advertisers are using YouTube advertising in this way, the “linear TV mindset”, it doesn’t apply here at all. Effective ads can take many forms. As long as they are able to 1) stand out, 2) generate attention and 3) make an impact on the viewer’s memory. This approach leaves an awful lot of room for creative interpretation. Especially if you throw off the restriction of a maximum length. Craig Davis, former top creative at JWT once said, “We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.” An excellent starting point to effectively advertise on YouTube.

A good example of how this principle was applied is our case of Amazon Prime Video. The ads were not the usual short videos or typical commercials, which people were used to. On the contrary, these ads (created by our in-house creative studio) were funny special edits, memes or popular clips that led to a huge growth in the channel’s popularity. The viewers were not used to seeing these funny, customized ads, but they absolutely loved it (and so did the client, by the way, because of the reach and effect on brand awareness and preference).

For GAMMA we used an approach where the starting point was that we wanted to help Dutch handymen. YouTube is widely used for DIY advice and explainer videos. The how-to videos resulting from our data-driven research not only generate a huge organic reach and attention, but they are also distributed in a paid way among DIY consumers. We identified these as such based on intent signals. The result? Not only 2 million views and 44,000 hours of viewing time, we also realized an 88% increase in purchase intent among viewers.

You can also generate impact with product reviews as ads, proven by Hyundai. Their goal was to reach, captivate and convert the exploratory electric car buyer on YouTube before the introduction of the IONIQ 5. And they succeeded. With this video strategy we realized an increase in brand recall (+231%), brand preference (+650%) and an increase in inclusion of the IONIQ 5 in the consideration set of 256%.

There are even more great examples abroad, including the use of a mini-docus series, an undercover operation or an anime series (by a Japanese brand, of course) where the product is the hero and sales increased by more than 100% in one year. Stop being guided by past forms and maximum length, and instead be guided by the effect you want to achieve.


Creatives have the greatest impact on the effectiveness of ad campaigns. Research shows that as much as 56% of the effectiveness of digital campaigns is determined by the creatives deployed (source: Nielsen CS, 2017). Generating attention and emotion is essential for ads to be effective. Until recently, to measure this properly you needed a laboratory of brain scans and measurement equipment or the use of expensive consumer panels, but with the rise of artificial intelligence and new technologies this has become much more affordable. So our advice is to always set aside a (small) portion of your ad budget for pre-testing and optimization. At Team5pm we use a combination of viewing time data analysis on a second level (where do viewers switch off? Where don’t they?), eye tracking based on AI (where does the attention go?) and neuromarketing research (what emotions does the content generate?). This is done to test and optimize creatives quickly and scalably.


Besides effective ads, you also want them to be shown to the right target group at the right time: but how and where do you find them? The Google Ecosystem forms a gigantic database with all the information about your target group and future consumers at your fingertips. This insight gives you the opportunity to advertise from the interest of consumers, by cleverly using the intention of the consumer and what they would like to see. Combine signals from YouTube, Google Search, Google Chrome and Google Play! Put the consumer first. By capitalizing on what really interests the viewer, and combining information from the various entities within the Google Ecosystem, you create targeting that is ironclad. The result? High-quality targeting with minimal waste!

We successfully applied this intent targeting strategy for OOT Granola, a brand that focuses on subscription-based “breakfast-in-your-letterbox”. The brand had a question about whether we could help them advertise their brand story. Although OOT Granola already had several commercials available, we intentionally researched the ideal target audience first. Our research showed that it consisted of Foodies, Value shoppers, Aspiring chefs, Fashionistas, Health & fitness buffs, Food & Dining. We then managed to combine these with interests and search behavior around Cruesli, Keto. Oat, Yoghurt, Almond Milk, blueberry & muesli. By monitoring and optimizing the campaigns, we were able to retrieve the standard target group (affinity/in-market) that converts and supplement it with custom target groups that have an above-average interest in a healthier lifestyle. The result? More quantitative and qualitative traffic to the website, significant growth in subscriptions and a reduction of SEA budgets by a growth of 270% branded search. This way of advertising makes it possible for a brand to really tell a story, to involve the target group and even have people visit the website to order a product.


However, despite the fact that advertising on the platform does get more and more budget, the specific attention lags behind. Too often we use frames of mind dictated by other media, pass on TV commercials one-to-one without any form of optimization and apply broad demographic targeting. Or we simply ignore it, because we find the production costs too high. We’d rather spend our money on ads on other platforms, which generate far less attention and impact, but do generate the last click. The secret to successful advertising on YouTube, then, is above all to give it the attention it deserves.


Within Team5pm, I am responsible for creating value and growth for our clients from the deployment of YouTube advertising budgets. Our approach to successful YouTube ads is not based on luck or gut feeling, but is the result of continuous analysis and optimization of every element of YouTube ads. In this way we ensure that the video is noticed by the right audience, generates massive attention and makes an impact on the memory of your target group and your brand values. We work for ANWB, Red Cross, PokerStars, Volkswagen, Unilever, amongst others. Are you interested in a better return on your YouTube advertising budget? Please let me know!


Want to know more about YouTube and what YouTube can mean for you as a brand? Download our free Whitepaper YouTube for Brands!

Want to discover what a YouTube marketing agency can do for you?

Born and raised on YouTube, we’ve developed a unique, data-driven approach to create effective videos. As the second-largest global search engine, tapping into YouTube’s full potential requires more than just uploading videos. A specialized YouTube agency can efficiently navigate this complex platform, ensuring your marketing investment translates into measurable results. Click here to learn more about a YouTube marketing agency.

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