Youtube ads

Youtube ads: High number of views = better brand recall?

The monthly digital program review meeting had begun. Mary Anne was presenting, deftly working the slides, adding perspective and insight as she shared the results. 

“Our Youtube video promotion led to over a million views. Of the viewers, about 50% saw more than 10 seconds of the video,” she informed the audience, confidently.  

“That sounds great”, said the CEO. “So, a million people saw our video. Wow!”. He was visibly pleased with the effort.

The people around the table included the entire marketing team at BrandCo. Mary Anne felt assured that she was on the right track. After all, her team had persuaded the brand to try Youtube advertising and Jack, the CMO took a leap of faith. 

The review meeting went well. As Mary Anne confidently shook hands at the close of the meeting, it was a foregone conclusion that a significant budget would be approved for just video advertising. Perhaps $1 million or more!

Just then, Jack, the Chief of Marketing popped a question: “How do we know that these million and more views really helped BrandCo?”

 Silence ensued, followed by a few mumbled explanations. All the explanations amounted to saying – “A lot of people saw our video, so it must have helped”. It was agreed that the team would run the numbers and email their findings to answer this question. 

On the car ride back, Mary Anne thought to herself – “What new insight could I get beyond what I already presented. The views and clicks data would not help answer the question.” She knew this was an important question, in the heart of her heart.

Back at BrandCo’s head-quarters, Jack shuffled in his chair trying to rationalize the data that was present. He understood market research metrics such as those on brand recall and purchase intent well, but he didn’t have the same comfort with data on views and clicks. Jack was excited about digital but wanted to understand outcome metrics that matter.

Sounds familiar? How many times have you endured this conversation about the meaning of video view count? Does a high video count automatically imply performance?

When seen from the lens of traditional marketing, the view metrics would seem to be vanity metrics, which do not tell the real story. Just like visibility numbers on TV do not imply better brand recall, consideration or purchase intent.

In the absence of such metrics, brands hesitate to invest in YouTube advertising. The role of digital is then relegated to purely a performance marketing channel. One that drives leads or transactions but does not materially move the brand’s equity. The gap in understanding actual brand equity metrics is bridged by Google’s brand lift studies.

Brand Lift Study

Google now offers (selectively, not for all), a brand lift study embedded with your YouTube spends. This study helps bridge the gap between view metrics and brand equity metrics.

As the name suggests, the brand lift study measures the following brand equity metrics:

  • Ad recall
  • Increase in brand recall
  • Improvement in brand interest & consideration
  • Improvement in brand preference or favorability (versus others)
  • Purchase intent

The above metrics form the basis of brand equity enhancement metrics and therefore can help bridge the gap between views and purchase and therefore predict improvement in future market share.

Brand Lift Study Methodology

The brand lift measurement methodology is straightforward. Google creates two audiences:

  • A control group, which has not been exposed to the video ad, but has the same demography and interest attributes as the ‘exposed group,’ defined below.
  • The exposed group, which has been shown the ad.

After a few days, typically less than a week, a very brief questionnaire is administered to a randomized sample of the audience from both the control group and the exposed group. The control group measurements define the baseline.

The implementation of this study is tagless and straightforward. The results can be obtained in a very short time, sometimes as short a duration as 7 days.

Brand lift by audience segments

The metrics are also available by audience segments. For instance, the communication might have appealed to the younger audience more than the overall audience. That is an insight that is important.

It is therefore important to define these segments well and then slice the brand lift study data to curate insights.

The true measure of success for YouTube advertising

The true measure of success goes beyond the views and clicks. It is whether there was an improvement (versus baseline) on your potential audience remembering the ad and the brand, their preference for the brand and finally their purchase intent.

Purchase intent correlates with future improvements in market share. This direct correlation with market share growth or revenue growth is the true measure of success on YouTube ads.

For implementing a brand lift study or other brand measurement studies, reach out to us at support [at]

April 16, 2020
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