Rion Austin is the director of YouTube and video global solutions at Google, leading efforts to help advertisers optimize reach and efficacy on the platform. Here, he shares why advertisers should embrace a full-funnel approach to make the most of YouTube.
Last winter, during San Francisco’s record-high rainfall, I woke up to a miniature river running through my home. To find out why, I turned to YouTube, where I soon learned how a sump pump worked — and why mine had stopped. As I watched, I discovered all the products I’d need to prevent another flood. By the following week, my garage was fully stocked with supplies to keep my home dry.
I’m not the only one who’s bought something after seeing it on YouTube. Seventy-five percent of people surveyed say advertising in YouTube videos makes them more aware of new brands or products,1 while 70% of them say they bought a brand as a result of seeing it on YouTube.2 While it’s not news that consumers are moving seamlessly across channels to find the products and services they need, the upshot of this shift is that video now influences every path. That video has become integral to consumers’ purchase decisions makes it a powerful driver of advertiser outcomes.
My team and I find time and time again that to convert leads and bolster brand awareness, marketers need a media strategy that encompasses multiple objectives from the start: a YouTube full-funnel strategy. These three brands, representing three different verticals and regions, show how to take this approach.
Leverage momentum from events
Marketers at Nike Korea needed a media strategy that could appeal to new customers even as it boosted sales. They saw an opportunity in Member Days: a program of key sales events that offers special products and benefits to Nike members through the brand’s online store. By taking advantage of the momentum driven by those sales events, Nike figured it could generate even more incremental leads.
First, it ran a brand campaign to boost awareness of the Member Days program in advance of the sales dates, relying on reach formats. While this campaign prompted buzz around the program, the second one focused on prompting sign-ups and driving sales by showcasing top products in a shoppable product feed.
In the end, this tailored campaign structure led to a 54% increase in conversion rates. What’s more, 50% of the retailer’s reach across both campaigns was incremental, capturing views that would have been missed by a single awareness campaign. A 2021 Google study found that on average, YouTube full-funnel advertisers see their awareness campaigns drive reach that is 75% more incremental than their action campaigns.3
Drive sales while expanding reach
Entel, the largest telecommunications company in Chile, set a high bar for its Cyber Monday sales. Like Nike, the brand needed to raise awareness of the event in the days leading up to it and meet its ambitious seasonal sales goals.
Instead of only relying on action formats, it decided to maximize its reach with a full-funnel strategy. Within a week, it was able to reach over 5 million users and score a cost per lifted user 66% lower than the benchmark, all while driving more than 600 additional sales. Our studies have shown that advertisers who ran Video action campaigns and later adopted two or more CPM brand advertising formats drove a 9% average increase in conversions.4
Entel’s success shows that marketers focused on achieving aggressive, short-term sales goals can still take the long view when it comes to generating leads. After this campaign, searches for “entel cyber” rose by over 200% year over year.5 Versioning campaigns for different objectives allows brands to build relationships with potential new customers, even as they help other customers make final decisions.
“The impact in incremental sales, generated by the synergy created by video formats, Search, and Shopping campaigns, has been really important for Entel,” said Carolina Browning Oldendorff, senior performance media consultant at Entel. “This combination, alongside creative best practices, has allowed us to improve performance and unlock a very important sales uplift.”
Since this campaign, Entel has used the Cyber Monday strategy as a template for every other seasonal moment in the past year. The brand plans to lean even further into it this year by increasing investments in various YouTube formats.
Get more out of brand campaigns
The International Rescue Committee (IRC), a global humanitarian organization that helps people rebuild their lives in the wake of war, conflict, and natural disaster, relies heavily on contributions from its donors for the work it does. Emotional resonance is a particularly important goal of storytelling that compels people to donate to humanitarian causes. Celebrity endorsements, social proof, and powerful audiovisual elements often feature in the organization’s campaigns. A platform that feels personal can also help reach audiences on a deeper level.
Typically, the IRC sees peak revenue at the end of the year. Last year, after noticing that organic interest and brand search were on the decline as December approached, the team had to come up with a new plan. They noticed that their performance-driven campaigns were having a positive impact on brand demand. Rather than focus exclusively on bottom-funnel performance media to generate leads, they decided to introduce reach campaigns to the mix. By adding those campaigns to key markets and remarketing viewers through their performance campaigns, they saw an increase of 42% in new donors and 19% revenue growth.
“The IRC saw a huge success firsthand with that initial YouTube full-funnel campaign,” said Emily Martin, associate director of digital marketing at the IRC. “Running small scale experiments beforehand gave us the proof points to know that a full campaign would work.” Google research tells the same story: YouTube advertisers see brand video driving 28% of their conversion assists.6
To maintain growth, the work of brands is twofold: Convert existing demand while creating a pipeline for future demand. Those who spend only on performance might end up paying more for those conversions in the long run, or even come up short on new customers. In a constantly changing world, marketers have to continually reinvent their strategies and rethink even their most foundational practices. That starts with adopting a comprehensive strategy that makes the most of your video assets, one campaign at a time.