Shoppable YouTube ads: How to drive sales from the first interaction

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With 63% of YouTube viewers saying they bought from a brand after seeing YouTube ads, we take a look at video action campaigns, designed to encourage purchases directly from your campaigns.

Data from Google shows the average online adult in the UK watches an hour of YouTube content per day across all devices, including mobile and connected TVs. Even more telling, 63% of YouTube viewers say they have bought from brands as a result of seeing their content or ads on the video network.

Data from Google shows the average online adult in the UK watches an hour of YouTube content per day across all devices, including mobile and connected TVs. Even more telling, 63% of YouTube viewers say they have bought from brands as a result of seeing their content or ads on the video network.

YouTube is the new window shopping

Google argues that YouTube is the new window shopping but points to the “always open” nature of the network. While traditional window shopping is a fixed activity that begins and ends, online channels have no limitations and people interact with platforms like YouTube throughout the day – during their commute, on their break and in their spare time at home.

Crucially, the personalisation engine powering YouTube means the content they engage with isn’t white noise like most traditional forms of advertising. People see content and ads relevant to their interests and the content they’ve previously engaged with.

This personal connection with content and ads has turned YouTube into one of the biggest online influences behind purchase decisions. People turn to the platform for product reviews, travel advice, unboxing videos, recommendations from influencers and they’re also influenced indirectly by content they view and the ads they see in between.

Offline sources that are more important since COVID

For example, people interested in graphic design will view content related to graphic design and feel inspired to learn or participate, making them more receptive to online courses, software and relevant products.

In this regard, YouTube is the always-open shopping window, even when people aren’t consciously in shopping mode.

“Put simply: video is the new shop window and it’s one that is always open. YouTube provides an opportunity for brands and retailers to connect with people in these valuable moments of discovery — when they are engaged and primed for action.”

As Google says, “being present in these moments is of course key, but making them ‘shoppable’ is the future”. So what tools does the network give you to turn this window of influence into actual sales?

Make your YouTube campaigns more ‘shoppable’

Google recommends using Video action campaigns to encourage purchase directly from your campaigns.

Google illustration of video action campaigns working across different devices

Video action campaigns are designed to drive conversions from YouTube by using responsive video ads that can show both in-stream and video discovery as formats. You can find out more information on the official Google Ads documentation page for Video action ads and here are the key benefits of using the format:

  • Drive more conversions: Expand campaigns to run on more places on and off YouTube and drive more conversions while still optimising for the lowest CPA.
  • Improve campaign performance: By combining inventory from the YouTube Home feed, YouTube watch pages, Google video partners, and more, video action campaigns can help you drive improved performance for your campaigns by reaching new customers.
  • Scale your campaigns easily: Video action campaigns make it easy to run your ads on mobile, desktop, and TV in one campaign, without having to set bids and budgets for each inventory source.

In video action campaigns, your ads include a CTA, a headline and a description in both formats with the option to include sitelink extensions, lead form extensions and product feeds for the in-stream format.

Again, you’ll get all of the information you need from the Google Ads documentation page and you can find out how to create video action campaigns here.

Google is particularly confident about the performance of video action campaigns that include product feeds from Merchant Center, too.

“Brands that add product feeds to their video action campaigns achieve over 60% more conversions at a lower cost.”

By adding browsable product images to your campaigns, you put purchase options at their fingertips as they watch your ads and inspiration is, hopefully, at its strongest. Product feeds allow you to win conversions on the first interaction and cut out the “messy middle” stage of the sales funnel where you have to track, nurture and re-inspire consumer desire.

Google tips for capturing consumer demand on YouTube

Back in November, Google posted an article on the Think with Google website, entitled How shoppable video is shaping the future of retail, showcasing the power of  YouTube and Video action campaigns.

In the same article, it offered up five tips for capturing consumer demand on YouTube – so here’s a summary of what Google had to say.

#1: Increase reach & performance with optimised targeting

Optimised targeting is now the default setting in Google Ads campaigns, designed to help you reach audiences that are likely to buy, outside of manual targeting settings. This automatic targeting option looks at keywords on your landing page and/or creative assets to build a profile of audiences that are likely to convert.

“Optimised targeting expands to users that are likely to convert by creating a profile of what a converter looks like based on real-time conversion data. For example, that data could include Google searches for specific running shoe brands or clicks to a popular sportswear website. While the advertiser’s manually selected audience segments provide a starting point, optimised targeting looks for conversions outside of their selected segments.”

You can also manually add criteria audience segments or keywords to (targeting signals) to optimised targeting to narrow the scope of audiences. For greater control, you can turn optimised targeting off and manually apply targeting settings to campaigns, which may shift the balance between reach and conversions.

***NOTE*** If you haven’t tried optimised bidding yet, we highly recommend testing it against a duplicate or comparable campaign with your usual targeting strategy to compare results.

#2: Boost reach further with integrated ad formats

In another tip for increasing the reach of your YouTube strategy, Google is urging advertisers to integrate different ad formats.

“Avoid sticking with one ad format. Look to enhance your marketing mix to fit your specific goals, measuring your full-funnel and cross-channel impact.”

For example, Google says more than 80% of advertisers that combine Discovery campaigns with video action campaigns report increased conversions – at, or below, their original CPA.

#3: Make your creative work harder

Google says the top-performing YouTube ads capture the brand, product and call to action within the first five seconds. That’s a tough ask from any ad creative but video action campaigns are designed to help advertisers drive conversions from the first interaction, within seconds.

The automated format self-optimises to match the action on your landing page – eg: “learn more,” “sign up” or “buy now”. Google recommends using video action campaigns to “do the heavy lifting” so you can focus on producing winning creatives, knowing the ad format will adapt to your conversion goals.

#4: Partner with creators on YouTube

YouTube creators are the stars of the network and consumers put their faith in trusted channels. Google research shows 89% of YouTube viewers say creators give recommendations they can trust, which says a lot about the influence of the platform.

You can find YouTube creators to partner with through the YouTube Select network and build entire campaigns around specific channels or themes.

#5: Build for performance, measure for success

Connecting with consumers as they move between TV and digital platforms remains a key challenge for today’s advertisers. Video action campaigns help alleviate this problem by encouraging users to convert from the first interaction.

Of course, this isn’t always going to work so advertisers need tools to reach consumers as they move between devices and engage with more content.

Google’s advice is to use automation to track sales, site visits and offline store visits beyond the last click so you can accurately attribute value to your campaigns. It also suggests experimenting with ad formats to find out what works and taking notes from Google’s Creative Works, which has tested more than 250 ad campaigns and experiments.

Need help with your YouTube PPC?

If you want to maximise your potential on YouTube and other paid channels, check out our YouTube services or wider PPC services, or speak to our advertising team on 023 9283 0281 or by filling out the contact form below.

Mike Johnson profile picture
Mike Johnson

Mike joined Vertical Leap in 2019. Having studied Marketing, he quickly decided digital was the path for him due to the huge potential that it gives businesses to grow and develop. He started off in a broad digital marketing role, learning the essentials of website management, optimisation and promotion, before choosing to take the specialist route of PPC for a leading reviews platform. His ethos of managing PPC accounts is all based around simplicity and transparency, creating strategies around clear goals and objectives which campaigns are then built and optimised towards. He enjoys developing strong relationships with clients and passing on as much knowledge as he can to both clients and colleagues. Mike’s competitive nature is demonstrated in his work for clients, constantly striving for improved performance. This comes from his passion for all things sport, so if he’s not at work, you’ll find him playing tennis, football or attempting to go skiing (after 2 failed attempts due to COVID...)

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