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YouTube Direct Response Ads: Just The Facts

June 29, 2020 Carolyn Harding

Ongoing store closures across the globe have caused many brands to alter their marketing strategies in order to adapt to the increased demand in online shopping. Taking note of this growing trend, YouTube announced the creation of its “Direct Response” ad format, making ads on YouTube videos more “shoppable” in an effort to improve brands’ ecommerce successes.

How Do YouTube’s Direct Response Ads Work?

Shutterstock_1064473979 Penang, Malaysia - April 6, 2018: Woman holding a smartphone with social Internet service Youtube on the screen. Blurred cafe interior on a background.

“Today, we’re making it even easier for you to inspire people to take action on YouTube with smarter solutions that make video more shoppable, use automation to drive conversion, and help you better understand attribution,” Nicky Rettke, Director, Product Management of YouTube Ads, shared in a recent blog post. 

With the creation of YouTube’s new Direct Response ad format, clickable product images will appear under each ad that is played on a given YouTube video, ideally generating traffic for participating brands by influencing viewers to go directly to the brand’s website to purchase the product. According to TechCrunch, brands that are interested in accessing Direct Response must sync the “Google Merchant Center feed” with each of their ads. Once complete, brands can adjust the “call to action” button to reflect the product they wish to feature.

Piggy backing off the new Direct Response ads, YouTube also launched its “video action campaigns,” intended to provide marketers with a less expensive option for creating conversions through the social platform. “It automatically brings video ads that drive action to the YouTube home feed, watch pages, and Google video partners, all within one campaign,” Rettke shared.

Why Did YouTube Launch Direct Response Ads?

It’s no secret that the ongoing stay-at-home orders and consumers’ coronavirus-related fears have led many shoppers to stay online with their purchases. As a result, many marketers are struggling to capture the attention of their audiences amongst a crowded online space. YouTube believes the best way to attract shoppers and entice them to buy is through video.

“As businesses begin to reopen, they [marketers] have an opportunity to use video to drive both online and offline actions on YouTube, where 70 percent of people say they bought a brand as a result of seeing it on our platform. That’s why we’ve invested heavily to introduce effective video solutions that drive action,” noted Rettke.

Which Brands Have Tested Out YouTube’s Direct Response Ads?

Early testing of YouTube Direct Response has garnered positive attention, with retailer Aerie being one of the first to try out the new ad format. During its latest spring campaign, the retailer tapped into YouTube’s capabilities in an effort to attract consumers. “They [Aerie] used YouTube as a full-funnel solution and connected with audiences with the highest likelihood to purchase,” according to Google. “As a result, Aerie saw strong engagement for their brand and achieved a 25% higher return on ad spend than the previous year—with nine times more conversions compared to their traditional media mix.”

Shutterstock_1144561061 Spielberg / Austria - 07/17/2018: The 2019 Jeep Wrangler JL Sahara off-road with mountains in the background

Jeep also tested YouTube’s new Direct Response ad format. However, the auto brand’s goal was not to drive online sales, but rather generate leads by “driving traffic to the company’s portal where visitors can design a virtual car to order.” The results? Completed leads multiplied by 13 at an 84% lower cost per lead, according to Google.

The pandemic’s influence on ecommerce will likely result in a long-term shift in consumer’s shopping habits, giving brands even more of a reason to invest in alternate or innovative options to influence shoppers to buy directly from a brand’s site. “Like many, YouTube believes businesses will continue to need solutions like these to find leads, boost their web traffic and drive more online sales, even when coronavirus-driven government restrictions lift and physical stores re-open,” noted TechCrunch.

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About the Author

Carolyn Harding

Carolyn Harding is an Associate Manager of Communications at Digital Media Solutions (DMS), the fastest-growing independent digital performance marketing company. DMS helps its clients accelerate growth by deploying diversified and data-driven customer acquisition solutions that deliver scalable, sustainable and measurable marketing results. DMS performance marketing solutions connect the right consumers with the right offers at the right time to achieve the marketing objectives of our clients. DMS is continually innovating to provide new and emerging media and technology solutions that minimize waste and maximize results across the most competitive industries. Since its inception, DMS has demonstrated incredible year-over-year growth which has earned recognition on the Inc. 5000 list in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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