Written By: Matt Martinez, Paid Search Campaign Manager at MuteSix
Most brands have figured out the keys to success when it comes to Google Shopping, search, and even display. However, these same in-the-know brands often have less luck when it comes to advertising on YouTube. Here at MuteSix, we want to change that by diving deep into the most critical component to YouTube performance: your creative.
For years, YouTube has been a pivotal tool for product discovery, with more than 2 billion logged-in users per month turning to it to inform future purchases.
When it comes to the Google-owned video-sharing platform, there are a variety of different formats you can utilize to target your ideal customer. While truly understanding the strategies behind those campaigns, bid strategies, and other media-buying techniques is important, the type of video content you leverage to meet your marketing objectives reigns supreme.
Unlike search, YouTube relies heavily on the audiovisual element of video to capture the attention of potential customers, while also educating them and addressing any possible buyer concerns they may have before committing to making a purchase.
Because of this, having various types of video creative can help you cater to what your audience is hoping to see. For example, for acquisition purposes, YouTube videos need to engage and educate consumers in ideally under a minute. With remarketing, on the other hand, creative should address any and all reasons why the consumer didn’t initially purchase, and then crush that objection.
In this post, we will cover five of the main video types that you should be using to win on YouTube, as well as the pros and cons of each, and best practices.
Format #1: User-Generated Content (UGC)
There is something inherently powerful about seeing your average Joe rave about a product or service. Without a scripted, commercialized feel, someone reviewing a product, simply using their phone, can feel significantly more authentic and genuine than a million-dollar-budget, highly produced ad.
UGC takes full advantage of this rationale by allowing real customers to speak freely about the product. What’s more, by looking directly into the camera, stars of UGC content have a way of speaking directly to the audience in a manner that third-person ads can’t.
Pros of UGC
For starters, UGC is extremely cost effective. If you have non-camera-shy friends, family, or colleagues, source them to review a product, specifically asking them to touch upon all of its key value props.
Next, UGC can easily be edited and altered. Customer surveys or video feedback might show that the value props professional actors mention don’t actually hit home. This isn’t a problem with UGC, however. Simply, rewrite the script and encourage your video stars to say the most compelling lines on the fly.
Finally, UGC can work in all stages of the funnel. Shifting UGC content to address remarketing-, acquisition-, or retention-focused audiences is easy. Instead of editing the dialogue to address fresh value props, instruct your talent to speak to the funnel stage itself.
For example, if you are running UGC for remarketing, you’ll want your talent to address anything that may be preventing the buyer from purchasing. To do this, you should instruct the speaker to note the product’s durability or the justification for the price tag. Alternatively, for retention, have your talent cross-sell other products in tandem with the hero product the remarketing audience has already purchased.
Cons of UGC
While there are myriad benefits to UGC, a few disadvantages are worth mentioning. For one, it lacks a premium feel, as it is relatively lower-quality production. Oftentimes, brands don’t want a gritty, organic feel. Since they are filmed on phones, UGC ads can’t always depict a premium product to its maximum potential.
Then, there’s the inability to showcase in-depth product detail. More studio-produced shoots can really showcase the harder-to-communicate attributes of a product through a visual experience. Take, for example, this cinematic award-winning Spongellé ad, which celebrates the body wash-infused scrub’s aroma by leveraging a custom score to choreography and scent-affiliated production design.
While UGC does a wonderful job highlighting customer satisfaction, it may fall flat when you try to show unique color palettes, lifestyle aesthetics, and other psychological showcases that rely on 4K or 1080P visuals.
Best Practices for UGC
When turning to UGC, it is best to quickly test hooks and specific value prop messaging to identify what best resonates with your audience.
We also recommend capturing an abundance of footage so your editor can cut and draw from a large bank to get the best frames.
Finally, be sure to write scripts for talent to riff off of and maintain a degree of creative control by teaching your more-amateur stars basic acting techniques to make your content as engaging and convincing as possible.
Format #2: Brand / Founder Story
Long gone is the era of salesmen-focused scripts that practically brainwash customers with all the main selling points of a product. Today’s consumer is significantly more conscious of the brands they purchase and what they stand for in terms of quality and like to be spoken to on a personal level.
A Brand / Founder Story really focuses on the products’ why and how, as well as the significance of the who (the founder) behind them. By humanizing your product(s) and giving consumers a story or cause that resonates with them, you are amplifying your advertising beyond the product’s benefits and venturing into the realm of an emotional connection.
Pros of Brand / Founder Story
For starters, Brand / Founder Stories give customers a reason to support the brand and not just the product they’re trying to sell. Such a format humanizes the brand and helps shoppers grasp more legitimate reasons for purchasing its product(s). These videos boast a less “ad-like” feel that can improve video engagement from start to finish.
Finally, Brand / Founder Stories have the potential to be shared organically and create an avenue for “product community.”
Cons of Brand / Founder Story
Brand / Founder Stories are typically longer-form content, which may cause viewers to tune out early. If you can’t speak to them right off the bat, they’ll never get to the all-important product discovery.
Additionally, this format relies on a powerful and emotional storyline, which can be more difficult to achieve than a value-prop-based script.
Most importantly, Brand / Founder Stories aren’t ideal for all funnel stages. That’s primarily because of their length, as mentioned before. In the acquisition phase, a long duration is beneficial for educating consumers about the product and helping them to relate to your brand. In remarketing, however, consumers have likely already engaged with your website and done additional research about your product. This point in the funnel is where you want to shift away from long-form content and quickly address any major objections to purchasing your product or using your service.
Best Practices of Brand / Founder Story
When creating a Brand / Founder story, focus heavily on the script and ensure that the positioning of the story has emotional weight or purpose. Go behind the scenes with the founder and glean any meaningful insights to include in your video, such as meaningful backstories.
Make your video as long as it needs to be, but as concise as it allows. Don’t be afraid to run ads to long-form content on YouTube if the video is engaging—consumers are patient when consuming content they enjoy.
Finally, mix aspects of a product introduction, value props, and other sales callouts to keep some degree of focus on the product / brand you’re trying to sell, because at the end of the day, ROI is critical.
Format #3: Product Reviews
Product Reviews are exactly what they sound like: in-depth videos that utilize organic or paid talent to review the product in a positive light to increase social proof and crush any objections the customer may have before making a purchase.
Pros of Product Reviews
The pros of Product Reviews are plentiful. For starters, they address and highlight any buyer objections. Additionally, they have an organic feel that can give customers a feeling of satisfaction and comfort in knowing they can purchase a reliable product they will enjoy long after receiving it. And, finally, Product Reviews can easily be sourced from video testimonials if you are already utilizing a post-purchase survey or testimonial incentives.
Cons of Product Reviews
When it comes to the disadvantages of Product Reviews, there are two that stand out. Typically, this video format is limited to remarketing. This is because users completely unfamiliar with your product will find little value in hearing reviews about it. While you can add more product intro footage to address this issue, it tends to feel forced and misplaced. Instead, streamline your product review to quickly address buyer objections, making them more confident along their path to checkout.
Best Practices for Product Reviews
When it comes to creating the most successful video Product Reviews, we suggest the following tactics. First, utilize them heavily in remarketing, and be sure to address product pain points. For example, if the quality is in question, encourage your talent to highlight it in their review. Tactics include talking about using the product many times without issue and enjoying it for a longer amount of time than expected.
Secondly, if you are sourcing review content from organic videos or customer feedback surveys, ensure the quality is high and can work in a professional advertising setting.
Format #4: Unboxing Videos
Unboxing videos showcase the product being opened at home, giving users a preview of what is about to arrive at their doorstep. Unboxing videos can help customers envision a product in their own hands, and give an honest look at the product sans strategic touch-ups by production artists.
Pros of Unboxing Videos
Watching a consumer unbox is not only oddly mesmerizing, but it also provides an honest frame of reference of product features like size, color, texture, weight, and other factors.
These videos are versatile, and can be done in a studio-like fashion with a creative bent (for example, stop-motion of the product coming out of the box or using organically sourced creative from customers or employees).
What’s more, they can be paired with an influencer to introduce social proof alongside the unboxing, which shows genuine reactions to the product.
Cons of Unboxing Videos
Such video formats have a few pitfalls, however. For one, they are typically limited to remarketing, as the focus is not fully on product value props, but rather the grand reveal. Further, if a product has poor packaging, it may not benefit from the same appeal or visual aesthetic as a well-packaged product, like say, a luxury handbag in ribbon-adorned box.
Best Practices for Unboxing Videos
Should you opt for Unboxing videos, utilize them in remarketing. Also, be sure to mix in value props and social proof via influencers along with the unboxing footage for other remarketing creative.
Format #5: Hero Product Intros
Hero Product Intros offer a clean, engaging way to represent your hero product and introduce qualified audiences to something from which they can benefit. On top of this, if you can, create a video that drives successful direct response sales to your most popular product, which allows you to focus on improving key products and drive revenue at scale.
Pros of Hero Product Intros
A well-executed Hero Product Intro can be heavily rotated in your evergreen campaign creative. In fact, if executed successfully iIt can serve as the very foundation of your creative strategy and brand itself.
When shared with in-market audiences, it can have an incredibly powerful impact on direct response sales. Most importantly, it positions the brand and product in the best light by focusing only on product highlights, visuals, main value props, etc.
Cons of Hero Product Intros
Similar to the other YouTube formats, there can be some drawbacks with Hero Product Intros. They can, for one, be more costly to produce at a higher quality. Because the emphasis on the product itself is so high, it needs to be done well, which can rack up high production costs.
This video format also relies on strong hooks and editing to keep users engaged using a non-organic feel, and can thus be more time-consuming to produce than say a UGC ad.
Best Practices for Hero Product Intros
When creating a successful Hero Product Intro, dedicate time mapping out the key value props and be sure to highlight them throughout the ad. Go beyond the obvious features and focus on what your product actually does for the customer. For example, fitness products help consumers achieve the body they want, teeth-whitening products boost confidence in your smile, and furniture can create a cozy home shoppers want to come home to.
For optimal results, test and iterate extensively on your hooks and initial shot. Showcasing how irresistible your product is can only help if you’ve gotten viewers past the dreadful YouTube “skip video” button, so be sure to draw them in early.
Key Takeaway: Invest in Your Creative Strategy So Consumers Invest in Your Product
Because of how essential it is to capturing potential consumers’ attention and interest, video creative on YouTube should never be on the backburner. Instead, it should be at the forefront of your YouTube initiatives.
YouTube success is directly tied to your ability to test and iterate on your video creative. For that reason: try, try, and try again to create content that can scale. At the end of the day, by accomplishing this, you can create the most successful campaign structure, utilize the smartest media-buying tactics, and lure the most ready-to-buy audiences.
However, if the creative you show is unengaging or unaligned with the customer journey, the infinite potential of YouTube will remain untapped.
At MuteSix, we have a creative team 75+ people strong that is well versed in direct response tactics and data-driven results. It’s how we’ve generated $4 billion dollars in revenue for our clients and garnered some of the industry’s highest honors for our creative spots.
If you’re looking to scale up on YouTube and invest in creative that speaks specifically to your brand, reach out to our StudioSix team or Google experts through our website, and we’ll help you unlock the infinite potential of YouTube advertising.