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The Marketer's Guide to YouTube, Part I: Why to Use It

Published: September 10, 2012

Author: Ron Fusco

youtube adsEven if you’ve never advertised on it, you know YouTube. You’ve watched videos of kittens or football highlights or biting Charlies on it. Chances are you’ve been served ads on it. And if your company has any kind of brand/product content, you should be figuring out how to put YouTube to work for you.
In the first of a four-part guide to marketing on YouTube, we’ll explain why it’s such a powerful tool and what metrics you can expect (or tell your clients to expect) from a well-run campaign.
Why use YouTube?
This one’s easy: it’s the world’s largest video ad network, and thanks to Google’s 2006 acquisition, it’s tightly integrated into AdWords (the SEM’s lifeblood). It has reach. It has control. And if you’ve worked with an AdWords account, you’ll have a good handle on running it before you create your first campaign.
Perhaps the coolest thing about YouTube advertising is that you can use it as a search platform, to reach a limited set of high-intent users, or as a display platform, which basically works the same way any other GDN campaign does. Here’s what Red Bull’s search and display ads look like:

youtube search ad
YouTube search ad

youtube display ad
YouTube display ad

Why not use YouTube?

Before it starts sounding like I’m working from a certain office in Mountain View, I should add that YouTube won’t work for all companies. If you’re gunning only for direct-response ROI and have a limited budget, it’s not for you. If you have very little brand/product video content, don’t have much of a content budget, and can’t even really figure out what kind of content might work to drive sales, it’s not for you.
What can you expect from a good YouTube campaign?
Let’s say you do have a strong brand or product (this can be a tangible product, a B2B service, a great university, etc.) and some good existing content, like this great video from DC Shoes. You should be on YouTube yesterday — provided you have the marketing budget for it and provided you have the right expectations.
YouTube is a content distribution channel, period. This means you should let the content do the work to market your brand/product and build awareness, which must be the primary goal of the campaign.
This also means that, no matter how highly targeted and customized your campaign is (and future posts in this series will explain how to target and customize), YouTube is not a bottom-of-the-funnel channel. No matter how good the content, you’re not going to double conversions in a week. You will get conversions if you’re targeting the right audience, but because video ads are less focused on direct response, a certain amount of risk tolerance is necessary as part of the investment to build a YouTube campaign.
Now that you’ve (hopefully) established whether or not you should be running YouTube campaigns, let’s dive into the details. We break down for you, in order: the different platforms offered within YouTube; the ad types available; and the channel’s targeting and segmentation options. Happy learning!

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