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Video has always been a powerful way to advertise, but until recently, that power was limited to driving mass reach, brand awareness, and consideration. For marketers looking to inspire action — a click, a sign-up, a sale — email and search were the go-to channels.

But this year, we’ve seen video marketing strategies expand across the entire customer journey. In 2018, brands used video advertising to drive everything from awareness to direct response. Take a look at what’s behind that shift and how it could inspire your video marketing strategy in the coming year.

Why video advertising evolved in 2018

If video advertising became more action-oriented this past year, it’s in large part due to evolving consumer behavior. UX research we at YouTube carried out in 2018 revealed that, contrary to popular belief, people aren’t always looking for a leaned-back, passive viewing experience. Actually, as we discovered, many video viewers crave something more interactive.

The second reason behind this shift in video marketing strategy is the way in which platforms have evolved in response to this new consumer behavior. As YouTube’s product manager Nicky Rettke explained earlier this year, “Historically, video advertising hasn’t been actionable, optimizable, or measurable against direct response objectives. The only way someone could ‘act’ on a video was to watch it.” That changed in 2018. On YouTube, for example, new video formats like TrueView for action allow marketers to start optimizing for a specific user action, like signing up for a service or buying a product.

Three lessons to inform your 2019 video marketing strategies

So how can brands adapt their video strategies in 2019 to capitalize on these new consumer behaviors and technologies? Here are three tips, proven successful by other brands, to help get you started.

1. Tap into an audience insight to inspire action

According to the American Marketing Association, the average U.S. consumer is exposed to 10,000 brand messages a day. So how do you cut through the noise to make sure your video ad stands out and drives action? It all starts with a consumer insight.

Take Yoox Net-A-Porter, one of the world’s largest online luxury outlets. It knew that its customers were impulse buyers who valued exclusivity. So it created a pre-roll video campaign that played to those tendencies, offering viewers the chance to buy a one-of-a-kind item.

Viewers had until the end of the 25-second ad to click on a link that directed them to a landing page where they could purchase the unique item. If they didn’t click, the offer was gone forever. The sense of urgency drove action and resulted in significant direct sales during the critical holiday season.1

2. Reach the right audience with multipurpose creative

You can have the most compelling, action-inspiring ad, but if you’re not serving it up to the right people, it’s unlikely to achieve the direct response goals you’re after.

So in 2019, take a leaf out of’s book. In a 2018 video marketing campaign, the online home goods and furniture retailer blended brand creative with performance formats, placing a clickable “Shop Now” or “Save Big” call to action on an ad that took viewers directly to the Overstock website.

The marketing team then used YouTube’s custom intent audiences to reach people who had recently clicked on one of their product-related search ads. Since viewers had already shown interest in the product, the campaign spend was highly efficient — in fact, return on ad spend was 3X its other campaigns.

3. Repeat your message across formats, throughout the customer journey

When the Google Pixel team tested a full-funnel video marketing campaign in 2018, they had one big takeaway: Repetition does not spoil the prayer. In fact, quite the opposite. “Repeating the message is the best way to move an audience from awareness to action quickly,” explained Jabari Hearn, who led the Pixel campaign.

To achieve its goals, the team developed a video marketing strategy that incorporated its message across multiple formats to reach users at different touchpoints. It started with a YouTube Masthead ad, a format meant to reach a broad audience and start a conversation about the Pixel. Users who had seen the Masthead and visited the Pixel page on the Google Store were then served six-second and 15-second ads. Finally, for interested users who turned to search to learn more about the Pixel, the team ran search ads, which drove them back to the product site.

Sure enough, this strategy drove both brand and performance goals. Results included a 20% lift in brand awareness2 and a 113% higher clickthrough rate to the purchase site than the average of previous campaigns.3

Now that video advertising can work harder for your brand than ever before, make it a goal to leverage its full value in 2019. These tips will help set you up for success.