Reaching Millennials on YouTube

YouTube is addictive. It’s a magical place where you can watch endless hours of games, cats, pranks, vlogs or whatever else tickles your fancy. Millions of people view videos on YouTube every day, so it’s no surprise it has become one of millennials’ main sources for entertainment and information. Google research shows that YouTube reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.


What does this mean for advertisers? It means that reaching millennials on YouTube should be easy – or maybe not. LaunchLeap recently conducted a study about the actions of U.S. millennials when viewing YouTube ads. The survey showed that 59 percent of millennials watch a YouTube ad until they can skip it. More than half of millennials have their mouses sitting in the lower right corner of the video screen waiting for the “Skip Ad” button.

So can advertisers take advantage of YouTube’s massive millennial audience while defying millennials’ resistance to advertising? Certainly. Here are a few ways to effectively reach millennials with video and make the most of your ad dollars.

Catch Their Attention in the First 30 Seconds

Skippable in-stream ads (the ads that play before a video) allow viewers to skip after the first five seconds of the ad. However, the advertiser doesn’t get charged until a viewer either watches 30 seconds of the ad or interacts with the video. This means that the more often you’re able to get viewers to sit through 29 seconds, the more impactful your ads are going to be and the less you’re going to pay per view. It’s extremely important to capture the viewer’s attention immediately (within the first five seconds). This will increase the likelihood that they stick around to watch the rest of the video instead of skipping.

Keep Your Message Clear and Short

The shorter your ad, the more likely viewers are to watch the entire video. If you save your most important message for the end of a video, most viewers are going to skip or stop paying attention before getting to it. Keep your ad as short as you can while still presenting your message clearly.

Test Different Ad Formats

Though skippable in-stream ads can be highly effective and inexpensive, test other ad formats to see what works best for your campaign. YouTube offers several display and video advertising options (here’s a list of them). You can even run non-skippable video ads, but there are some downsides to them. The ads are more expensive, there are length restrictions (15, 20 or 30 seconds), and you can’t gauge your audience’s interest level because they’re forced to watch the video.

Be Authentic

Millennials like to align themselves with brands that are open and honest. They don’t like to be sold to, so instead of forcing your sales pitch on the viewers, tell a compelling brand story that will help the viewers identify with your brand.

Target the Right Audience

“Millennials” are a very broad audience, so you’ll most likely need to use more detailed targeting to make sure you’re reaching the right audience with your message. In-stream, in-search and in-display ads can be set up through Google AdWords, which has a variety of targeting options. You can target based on age, gender, interest, topic, keyword, etc. You can also target similar videos and channels or target remarketing lists. You should always take a few different approaches in your targeting so you can test them against each other and see what performs best.

There are no hard and fast rules for reaching millennials through advertising, but these tips should give you a good start and point you in the right direction. Always be open to exploring new strategies, tactics and messages. Every brand is different, so keep testing until you achieve the results you need – and then keep testing some more.

MCC creates the right mix of communications for today’s audience – from traditional advertising and public relations to highly interactive digital communications, engaging social media and powerful search engine optimization. With such a broad range of communication services, it’s easy to think of MCC as the big agency that does. With the passion of the little agency that could.

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