How pairing performance ads and YouTube can transform your digital campaigns

September 2018
  • NordVPN wanted to drive conversions and increase brand presence and awareness.
  • The company tested YouTube’s effectiveness by using customised videos in several markets.
  • By focusing on the specific KPIs and aligning its campaign spend with its business goals, NordVPN noticed significant lift in ad recall, consideration, and brand awareness, which resulted in a boost in branded Search traffic.

NordVPN is one of the most trusted VPN service providers, delivering a secure internet connection to more than four million people around the world. The growing public interest in online security means the company has significant market potential, so, to reach new users, it relied heavily on search in high-value markets, including the U.S., Australia, U.K., Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, and Scandinavia.

But there are more places to connect with audiences than simply search. With more than a billion worldwide viewers going to YouTube, it’s become an essential platform for reaching people when they’re online. NordVPN initially had concerns with the alignment of ad spend and business goals when it came to video. Like many brands, the company hadn’t always reached its goals with video campaigns in the past and was under the impression that, while video could build brand awareness and measure reach, it fell short of the hard conversions the company wanted.

So, with an experimental mindset, the company’s chief marketing officer, Marty P. Kamden, and its paid media team explored how YouTube could help NordVPN take advantage of performance video ads to reach more users and secure more customers.

Engaging audiences where they research

NordVPN soon realised that YouTube videos allowed for more user interaction than ever before. New video formats like TrueView for action not only helped it reach potential customers with interactive content like sign ups and polls, but they also measured performance across devices, transforming video into a more effective tool than it had originally imagined.

In addition to entertaining audiences, YouTube educates, making it an ideal platform for NordVPN. The company saw that users were actively researching issues like internet privacy with search topics like “what is a VPN?” meaning the campaign worked to make the most of this existing behaviour. NordVPN worked alongside Google to adapt existing ads and quickly roll out an effective campaign on YouTube. Within two weeks, NordVPN began testing video ads on YouTube in Canada and the Nordic region, expanding video ads in other areas, including Australia and Asia Pacific, after the test’s success.

“We were sceptical about video at first, but finding ways to measure the results has changed everything. Now it’s an integral part of our digital marketing portfolio.” — Marty P. Kamden, Chief Marketing Officer, NordVPN

YouTube-driven conversions leads to company-wide transformations

The results speak for themselves. In just 30 days, the campaign delivered more than 13,000 conversions that were, on average, 5X to 7X cheaper when compared with search and display campaigns. In addition to trackable conversions, the campaigns also delivered a significant lift in ad recall and brand awareness in the target markets.


The campaign’s success also transformed NordVPN’s team. The company hired a full-time video curator who’s now responsible for the content on its YouTube Channel, while a member of its pay-per-click (PPC) team was appointed to focus on YouTube advertising. “We were sceptical about video at first, but finding ways to measure the results has changed everything. Now it’s an integral part of our digital marketing portfolio,” said Kamden.

Although some performance marketers remain sceptical of using video for customer conversion, it’s clear that video advertising has changed. It’s no longer just about brand awareness and reach. Rather, it’s become an effective and easy-to-use tool for performance campaigns as well. Now you can have your cake and eat it too.

If you’re running a video brand campaign, why not gather leads too?