What do ads that drive results on YouTube have in common? This question inspired a collaboration with Ipsos, and the involvement of two independent reviewers, Nielsen and Kantar, to find out.
We reviewed 17,000 ads to understand the keys to advertising success. From this, we created four guiding principles that marketers can use. We call these principles the ABCDs (Attention, Branding, Connection, Direction).
Crafting a successful ad
Making an ad involves many decisions: some big, some small. This talent or that talent? Cut here or there? By factoring four simple principles into each decision, your work is more likely to achieve your marketing goals.
The ABCD principles are not a formula for generating creative ideas. But research, like that from Nielsen Catalina Solutions, proves that creative — everything from concept to execution — is the number one driver of campaign effectiveness and return on investment (ROI). In other words, creative execution is just as important as the idea itself. So once you have that big idea, the ABCDs can help you bring it to life on YouTube in the most powerful way.
On average, the ABCDs deliver a 30% lift in short-term sales likelihood and a 17% lift in long-term brand contribution.1
Applying the ABCDs
Imagine you’re on a creative team tasked with producing an ad for a new line of fish-flavoured dog treats for fictional brand Fishos. Your concept was approved, and now it’s time to put together a storyboard. As we go through the ABCDs, we’ll explore how we might improve our ad at this early stage of execution.
A = Attention: Hook the viewer
Start big! Successful ads work hard to earn engagement right from the beginning. Of course, there are many ways to do this. You can start your ad in the middle of the action, or open with a close-up. Audio inputs like music, voice-over, and sound effects create a rich, sensory experience that helps people pay attention.
Think about colour and contrast to ensure your visuals are bright and strong. Play around with bold imagery at the start of your ad to create an attention-grabbing opening. Below are some ideas that you and the Fishos team might explore.
B = Branding: Brand early, often, and richly
Whether with product shots, pack shots, in situ branding, graphic elements, voice-overs, or musical treatments, work your brand identity into the story. YouTube is almost entirely a sound-on experience, so take advantage of the multisensory aspect of your medium to get more impact. Below are three different ways to ensure your brand is present.
C = Connection: Help people think or feel something
Don’t think of your viewer as passive. Work to educate, inspire, or entertain them. Humanise your story to help them relate. Lean into emotional levers with storytelling techniques, such as humour or surprise. But avoid doing too much in your ad. Focus the message as you make your connection.
D = Direction: Ask them to take action
Finally, with clear and simple instructions on what to do next, people will be more likely to respond to your ad the way you want. A written call to action, graphics, audio, or even a scene from your story can help guide them. Here are some ways to turn engaged viewers into active customers.
Now compare the revised ABCDs version of the ad with the earlier version. Which one is more compelling?
Enhance your ad further with objective-driven ABCDs
Simply following these general YouTube principles led us to create quite a different ad, so you can imagine how much more could be done after optimising for specific marketing objectives. There are options you can explore if you want to:
- Raise brand awareness
- Drive product consideration
- Prompt action to close the deal
Here are more suggestions to use the ABCDs to tailor your ads to help you reach your specific goals:
Raise brand awareness using ABCDs
No matter how long your brand has been around, cutting through the clutter can be a challenge. To help you craft an ad that drives brand awareness, we’ve refined the ABCDs based on what has worked for brands on YouTube in the past.
An ad more tailored to brand awareness should spend a bit more time introducing the product to new audiences. You can do this by using audio, such as voice-over, music, and sound effects, to amplify your on-screen messaging; and by using multiple branding opportunities, from logo to tagline, mascots and pack shots, to be remembered.
Here’s how an ad tailored to brand awareness might differ from before.
Drive product consideration using ABCDs
Consideration ads can help people see how your product or service might fit into their lives. This is an important step in helping them understand the relevance of your message and the benefits of your product or service.
You can adapt your ad by placing more focus on the product itself, because consumers now know your brand. Use tight beauty shots to put the spotlight on your product, but keep up your branding, especially in the last five seconds. Furthermore, seeing your product in context helps others envision how it will fulfill their own needs. And you can plant the seed of urgency with a sharper call to action, giving your audience extra motivation.
With just a few tweaks below, we created a new version of the same ad, optimised for our goals. You’ll see we added just one word — “today” — to the call-to-action, to drive more urgency. Plus, there were a few further tweaks:
Close the deal using ABCDs
If you’re already known to your audience and your product, service, or message is familiar to them, it’s time to close the deal. An action ad campaign is all about laying out the terms of your offer and getting the viewer to take you up on it.
For these campaigns, the product should be the hero of the campaign; use extreme close-ups to show what you’re selling. Be upfront, precise, and credible when explaining the offering. Illustrate specifics. Show and tell how the product will enhance the viewer’s life by depicting it in realistic situations. You can then incentivise your audience, leveraging the power of discounts or special offers to turn viewers into customers.
This version of the ad inspires customers to head into the store.
For more details download the ABCDs Playbook.