Online video can be much more than an awareness driver. New research shows that YouTube not only drives brand metrics throughout the consumer journey – from consideration and favourability to purchase intent – but also boosts potential for positive return on ad spend compared to TV.

March 2016

For many advertisers, the primary goal for online video advertising is increasing brand awareness: reaching as many people as possible as efficiently as possible in the shortest possible time. And it's certainly true that YouTube delivers; we reported back in April that 65% of Google Preferred ads on YouTube saw an increase in brand awareness, with an average lift of 17%.

But fewer advertisers have thought about online video advertising as a key channel to drive metrics like purchase intent. Here at YouTube, we get questions from advertisers like, "How does YouTube advertising impact lower-funnel metrics?" or "How will YouTube improve my return on ad spend (ROAS)?" In this article, we'll share data from two recent studies that answers those questions, showing just how much YouTube can move the needle on brand metrics across the consumer journey – from consideration and favourability to purchase intent and sales.

Question no. 1: How does TrueView impact consideration, favourability and purchase intent?

To answer this, we looked at all of the Brand Lift data since June of this year – hundreds of campaigns across different categories. We set out to understand how TrueView, YouTube's skippable video ad format, moved the needle on consideration, favourability and purchase intent. Here's what we found:


Answer no, 1: TrueView drives metrics later in the consumer journey, especially after 30 seconds

These numbers tell a compelling story: YouTube ads drive increases in key metrics later in the consumer journey. Typically increases in lower-funnel metrics like these require multiple exposures over time. And yet TrueView drove lifts in consideration among 57% of campaigns, lifts in favourability among 24% of campaigns and lifts in purchase intent among 35% of campaigns – all with one exposure.

But TrueView ads are about more than exposures: the skippable ad format gives YouTube viewers the choice to watch and engage with an ad. To understand how choice impacts consideration, favourability and purchase intent, we looked specifically at people who did choose to watch 30 seconds or more of an ad.1 Across all three metrics we saw greater results among this group, with their consideration 45% higher, their favourability 14% higher and their purchase intent 19% higher, than the control group.2


Previous Google research had already shown that the longer someone views a video ad, the higher the lift in brand awareness. This latest research completes the story for the latter half of the consumer journey: consideration, favourability and purchase intent. In order to see lifts in metrics throughout the consumer journey, brands should set out to get viewers to watch more of each ad.

Action no. 1: Make the creative choices that keep people watching

Turns out there's some science to the art of engaging video advertising. Certain creative choices lead to longer watch time. For instance, if you choose to show your brand in the first five seconds, the placement of the logo in the video ad matters: viewers respond better to a logo attached to a product versus a logo floating freely. People are also less likely to "skip" funny ads or those that feature celebrities. "Creating less skippable" advertising by optimising for longer views – better watch time – will get you better lifts in metrics throughout the consumer journey.

Question no. 2: How does shifting TV expenditure to digital impact return on ad spend (ROAS)?

In addition to understanding better how YouTube moves consideration, favourability and purchase intent, we wanted to see if advertisers could get a better ROAS on YouTube. To find out, we partnered with MarketShare, a Neustar Solution and used a method familiar to most brand marketers: media mix modelling (MMM). MMM provides insight into which channels are most efficient, and what results would look like if more media spend were shifted to those channels. By looking at average category media investments, here's what we found out:


Answer no. 2: Your ROAS could be significantly higher on YouTube

Across the categories we looked at, brands were investing two-thirds or more of their media budgets on television. The MMM analysis suggests that should change. Moving some of that allocation over to YouTube can yield a higher ROAS – from 2X to 8.5X higher across the categories we studied.

Higher return on ad spend is, needless to say, tied directly to increased revenue. In the same MMM study, we saw that reallocation to YouTube can have a significant impact on marketing-driven revenue. One category we examined was action movie tickets; at average spend levels, US$1 spent on TrueView generated 7X the box office revenue of US$1 spent on TV. For action movie tickets, a 20% shift of ad budget from TV to YouTube would have increased marketing-driven revenue by 25%.

Action no. 2: Use media mix modelling to see a better ROAS for online video

Consider using MMM to understand if you're underinvested in online video, and YouTube in particular. It may be that shifts will net a more positive ROAS. How does US$1 spent on YouTube compare to US$1 spent on TV for your brand when it comes to revenue?

At Google, we believe that if you focus on the user, all else will follow. For brands, focusing on the user starts with mapping a consumer journey. And if YouTube plays a role at every stage of that consumer journey, it should follow that YouTube plays a role at every stage of a brand's media plan. As brands work to match their media decisions to consumer media decisions, they'll increasingly meet people in the moments that matter – and move the metrics that matter.



1. A "completed" view means watching at least 30 seconds, or in cases where ads were shorter, completing the entire ad.
2. Study of two isolated groups: exposed and control. Exposed group saw ad being measured. Control group saw another ad in its place.