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Creativity wins! 7 ways to unlock advertising effectiveness on YouTube

Social & Mobile • Written by Catherine Graves, Marketing Director

The numbers don’t lie.

YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world after Google, with 3 billion searches per month. And with research showing that creativity is the most important driver of advertising effectiveness, getting your creative right on YouTube campaigns is crucial to winning your share of that audience.

Nielson Advertising Effectiveness Study, 2017

Nielsen Advertising Effectiveness Study, 2017

As a YouTube Marketing Partner, we can help you produce creative that earns attention and drives action on YouTube. Read on for some tips.

Firstly, remember media consumption has changed

Media has fragmented, from the days of the TV to the proliferation of channels and devices we have now, and 70% of content is consumed on mobile. By 2020, 75% of content consumed on mobile will be video (source).

The consumer also has greater control over what they watch, including ads, and want content to be relevant and personalised. The search-ability of YouTube and it’s targeting helps advertisers with this, but you need to have the right content to be effective.

To add to this, attention is also falling. With so much content available, audiences are consuming it without fully engaging with what they’re watching or listening to (source).

So, what does that mean for your creative?

These tips can help to make your YouTube creative as effective as possible. Use them throughout the production process, from pre-production planning and storyboarding to shooting and editing content.

1. Make your ad unskippable

Start strong with sight and sound and give the audience a reason to keep watching. Avoid the traditional TVC story arc which has a slow build, and instead, make sure you grab their attention straight away.

Try to include at least 2 different shots in the first 5 seconds and think about how your visuals, pacing, cropping and dialogue can win attention. Also keep in mind that 95% of YouTube ads play with sound on, so audio is important.


Another way to grab attention is to make your content hyper-relevant to the video the viewer is watching, by using YouTube’s targeting options to link your ads contextually. Here’s an example we created for Kleenex, delivering 6-second bumpers in front of content within specific categories.

2. Three ways to hold your audience’s attention

  • Tugging on the heartstrings or tickling the funny bone of your audience can create a connection and keep viewers engaged throughout your ad. After all, the second-highest reason people turn to YouTube is to be entertained.
  • Incorporating people and faces into your ads also goes a long way. The human brain is hardwired for face processing and responds positively to faces in advertising. This goes for human faces as well as dog faces! So think about including people or pups.
  • Take risks with your creative and be bold. It can pay off by breaking through the noise. Think about your audio and pacing (keep it fast!) as well as tapping into current trends and cultural moments to create connections.

Genero creators love producing videos that are different and interesting for brands. If you are able to, open your brief up to their ideas and make the most of these diverse, creative minds.

3. Be clever with your branding

Incorporating your brand as naturally as possible can help make the video feel more authentic and less like an ad. For example, try showing your product instead of an actual logo.

Keeping in mind that a lot of YouTube ads can be skipped after the first five seconds, think about when to include your brand:

  • Brand early to aid in ad recall
  • Brand later to make your video feel less like an ad, help to keep viewers engaged and aid in awareness and consideration.

General Pants (branding early)

Slidebelts (branding later)

4. Drive action

YouTube’s TrueView for Action format is particularly good at driving action as it includes a Call to Action throughout the ad and in the end screen.

Wix TrueView for Action YouTube advertising
Wix TrueView for Action overlay YouTube advertising

Make sure the ad is clear on what the viewer should do, as well as how they should think and feel to encourage them to click your CTA. Whether it be clicking through to your site, watching another video, subscribing to your channel or making a purchase.

5. Build for mobile

More than 70 percent of YouTube watch time comes from mobile devices, so think about how your ads will look when viewed on small, potentially dimmed screens. Cropping in close and making sure text sizes are easy to read will help. 

YouTube also recommend adding both vertical and horizontal video assets to the same campaign for maximum Brand Lift impact. To make the most of vertical and square dimensions, play with splitting the screen, experiment with type and design and think up and down instead of left to right.


Virgin Atlantic




Campo Viejo

6. Optimise for YouTube

It’s not always possible to produce fully integrated campaigns with perfect assets for each platform and channel. Genero creators can take almost any existing asset including product stills, TVCs and even search ads and adapt it to be fit for platform by editing for a strong opening and faster pacing, creating shorter edits, cropping closer, splitting the screen and playing with type, design and branding.


Reebok (stills to video)


Sunday Times (Video to mobile)

7. Timing is everything

YouTube ads can be any length, apart from Bumpers which are all 6 seconds. But best practice says to try and stick to the 15-30 second mark to avoid losing viewers.

Saying that, research also indicates that people will stay engaged with content they like so you could experiment with longer-form edits and see what works best for your brand. This 3 minute ad below worked well for disruptive mattress brand, Koala.

The Koala Story

If you’re a brand interested in creating a YouTube campaign, our team would love to help. Get in touch to discuss your brief. 

If you’re a creator looking to produce content for YouTube, sign up to Genero for free today and start reviewing our briefs.

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