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YouTube’s Brand Lift Study 2.0: A Step Forward for Performance Branding

Published: March 18, 2019

Author: Tom Leonard

YouTube is ever-evolving into a more effective channel for direct response advertising. With features like TrueView for Action, Custom Intent, and the upcoming Lead Ads, there’s no denying the viability of YouTube as a DR channel for many brands.
That said, YouTube has been and will continue to be a great way to reach relevant audiences at scale with the goal of driving brand awareness. Brand Lift Studies from Google are a great way to measure the often-elusive impact of brand advertising on YouTube, something we’ve written about before.
BL 1.0, as we’ll refer to it moving forward, has a new sibling: BL 2.0, which offers a slightly different solution to the same measurement conundrum. While I’ll argue that 2.0 is the superior product for most performance advertisers, there are some features not available with BL 2.0. First, let’s look at the differences between the two solutions:

BL 2.0 provides a two new, useful metrics: lifted users and cost per lifted users. Lifted users is calculated as (unique reach*absolute lift) to give an estimate of the number of users you lifted with your ads, with cost per lifted user based off this metric. While this number is extrapolated from your surveyed group, it is extremely useful in understanding the effectiveness of various segments within your campaigns.
One other very important aspect of BL 2.0: spend minimums. While BLS 2.0 is touted as having more flexible minimums than the original Brand Lift Study product, advertisers need to be careful how they set up their campaigns and studies. The minimum spend in the US is $5k in the first 7 days – which needs to be allotted for every comparison point to reap the full benefits of BL 2.0. If you want to dig down to campaign level, each campaign needs to spend the minimum. If you want to see differences at the level of age group, each age group needs to hit the minimum. You can spread the minimum spend across campaigns, ad groups, etc., to see aggregate results for the whole study, but this removes the ability to compare them side by side.
The decision of whether to use BL 1.0 or BL 2.0 will depend on what you want to get out of your campaign(s). A couple of scenarios:

  • Do you want to run a handful of audiences to see how each responds to your ads to see where you can lift users for the lowest cost? Run BL 2.0.
  • Do you want to see if you can lift users who skip your ads (that you don’t pay for?). Run BL 1.0.
  • Do you want to run YouTube continually and optimize as you go based on brand metrics? Run BL 2.0.

In my eyes, there are two main advantage of BL 2.0: campaign-level performance and continual, real-time reporting.
I find campaign-level performance to be the single biggest advantage of BL 2.0; it really moves YouTube Brand Lift into the performance marketing world. With BL 2.0, you get brand lift results by campaign, meaning you can run campaigns targeting different audiences to see how they are responding to your messaging. The Cost per Lifted User metrics lets you understand how how effectively you are lifting various audiences. For example, you may be able to reach a large affinity audience at a $0.01 CPV, but if very few of those people take mental note of your brand, you’re better off paying a premium for a smaller audience more likely to remember you. Cost per lifted user gives you this level of insight and is only available on BL 2.0. Here’s a look at how this could play out using simple, made-up data. For a real example of how a 3Q client used BL 2.0 to drive strong brand lift results, check out this case study.

Knowing which audiences are driving the most cost-effective lift in real time allows for the shifting of dollars and ongoing testing of new audiences, something familiar to all performance marketers but previously missing from brand advertising.

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