The minds at the Cato Institute wanted to create greater public understanding of and interest in libertarianism while spreading the word about their website, Using new YouTube bumper ads, they boosted ad recall and brand awareness, and drove traffic to the site.


  • Boost ad recall
  • Boost brand awareness


  • Six-second, non-skippable YouTube bumper ads
  • Brand Lift study to measure results


  • Boosted ad recall +357%
  • Boosted brand awareness +125%
July 2016

Libertarianism is one of those words that people may see and hear a lot but not be totally sure what it means. and the Cato Institute wanted to change all that. is the go-to resource for information exploring the theory, history, and practice of liberty. The website features classic texts by historical libertarian figures, original articles from modern-day thinkers, podcasts, videos, online introductory courses, and books.


The team behind wanted to spread the wealth of knowledge the website has to offer, both to teach newcomers what libertarianism means and share content with those already interested in the political philosophy. With a limited budget, the team looked for ways to tell their story to a broad audience.

Using YouTube bumper ads to entice viewers recruited Red Edge, a digital advocacy firm, to help them increase visitation to the site. Red Edge suggested running bumper ads, a new six-second video format, as a way to boost visibility on YouTube, increase channel subscriptions, and send people to the homepage. "As a digital content site specializing in ideas and political commentary, we thought YouTube was a great fit for advertising our videos," said Crystal Zhao, marketing manager at the Cato Institute.

Packaged as snackable stories that drive action, bumper ads don't demand a huge production or media budget to get results. They're non-skippable, but short—the perfect platform to get's simple message across to viewers. "We used well-known libertarian figures to encourage people to learn more about libertarianism and freedom. Some of the messages included more playful, meme-like messaging such as 'you do you,'" said Bret Jacobson, president of Red Edge.


The team ran different versions of the ads to determine which specific calls to action drove viewers to the site. They also used a mix of targeting tools, including remarketing, to reach viewers who had already watched videos on their YouTube channel and audience targeting to reach users interested in politics.

Measuring success with Google's Brand Lift

Using Google's Brand Lift solution, the team was able to quickly measure the success of the bumper ad campaign. By running an engagement study that measured the direct impact the YouTube ads had on brand metrics, they found the campaign boosted ad recall by more than 357% and brand awareness by more than 125%. To top it off, the ads drove a 14% increase in traffic to the site during the campaign.

"With a minimum budget, we received a Brand Lift study that demonstrated in-depth results for our budget and efforts."

Zhao said, "We don't know of any other six-second, non-skippable video ads available on a popular video network. Bumper ads made sense for us because the ads are short and non-skippable, and with a minimum budget, we received a Brand Lift study that demonstrated in-depth results for our budget and efforts."