Video advertising. Nearly every brand wants to test it, but nearly every brand struggles to create compelling video assets. 

“We don’t have anyone on our team that can create video.”

“We don’t have the budget to hire a creative agency.”

“Our creative team doesn’t have time or the expertise to create the videos we need.”

“There are too many legal hoops to jump over to get video approved.”

When Google announced in April that Video Builder is now publicly available to all advertisers, this removed the most common barrier brands had been facing. Advertisers now only need display creative to generate videos. Yes, you read that correctly; display, not even raw video.   

In addition to Google’s help page, there are plenty of “how to” videos and blogs already on the interwebs. What you will take away from this blog is how to EFFECTIVELY USE video builder to create compelling video ads. If you won’t be using video builder, all of the creative tips still apply to whatever video creation method you use. 

Requirements For YouTube Video Builder

Due to many variables from business to business, industry to industry, I will provide you with the framework; it’s up to you to create, test, and iterate. Before we dive into the framework and best practices, there are a few requirements:

  • A YouTube channel
  • Video Builder access – if you haven’t already, you will need to fill out this form to request access. Google states a turnaround time of 5 business days. If you have an agency or account rep, you should receive access within 48 hours. 
  • Display creative & brand logo – videos are generating by uploading images, each template requires different file sizes (see below), 2MB max file size
    • 1920×1080, 1080×1080, 1080×1920, 1500×1080, 1750×1080, 
    • Brand logo: 1000×500, 500×500, 
  • Brand color – you can select from a color wheel or directly enter RGB, HSL or Hex #
  • Brand font – choose from Google’s fonts catalog

Navigating YouTube Video Builder

Getting started with Video Builder is straightforward. Once you select from one of the 13 templates, you can begin uploading your images and selecting your brand colors.

Make sure your images do NOT contain text overlays (supers). Once your images are loaded, you will then be able to customize your supers and CTAs:

YouTube Video Builder adding text example

Uploading images and adding your supers and CTAs is simple, but it will take at least several attempts to fine-tune image order, copy, and finding music that matches the tone and message of your video. 

  • Test out your best performing CTAs from search campaigns, but make sure it fits the overall theme and objective. 
  • One of the best tests you can do is simply swapping out the super so if you have two or three CTAs you want to test, make two or three different videos.
  • Another good test is switching out one aspect of the creative: e.g. man instead of women, outside instead of inside, rock music instead of rap music. This can teach you what your target audience engages with and inform future creative decisions.

The last step is the most fun and most challenging to get right. YouTube has a large Music library to choose from, but you may have to play 20+ songs before you find one that matches the tone of your video. As previously mentioned, testing different music is a simple, yet effective way to A/B test. 

Creative Guidelines

Objective: Increase Consideration  

  • Focus on ONE product or service
  • Product/service demo is the best way to increase consideration
  • Test different CTAs – people need to be told what to do
  • The best creatives are ones that “make it real” – could you picture the product/service in your life

Objective: Purchase intent 

  • Focus on the product, not your brand
  • Get to the point quickly – the first shot should communicate the point
  • Tell what the product/service does, not how it will make viewers feel
  • Skip emotional and get right to the rationale

YouTube Video Builder – Example Ad

Now that we’ve walked through the process and creative tips, let’s breakdown an example.

The good:

  • The first text overlay tells the viewer exactly what they are watching
  • Product demo is easy to follow
  • “Top Up Today” CTA at the end is a great example of giving the viewer one specific action.
  • Music matches the tone of the video
  • The brand is very apparent throughout the whole video

The bad:

  • The images are not the correct sizes which makes the video look like poor quality and removes any brand credibility 
  • The images contain text overlays which muddle the message

I share this example to illustrate how easy it is to create a quality video as long as you have the proper display creative. 

Whether you are new to video or have been running campaigns for years, it’s important to note that YouTube advertising (or any platform for that matter) isn’t about how many ads you create or even having the best creative possible (video builder has many limitations); rather, it’s about how your ads work together. 

I recognize that many brands are still limited by the display creative at their disposal, but I will leave you with two best practices that apply to any paid/organic video campaign. 

  1. Intimate, Authentic, simple – NOT cheesy, traditional, cookie-cutter TV creative. This applies especially to B2B. People decide to buy your product/service for their Fortune 100 company. These same people watch video ads so make creative that is personal, funny, emotional, HUMAN. 
  2. Creative Direction: If you are stumped, work backward from the campaign’s main objective and design for that objective. Don’t create based on KPI. Decide how you will measure success when you set up the campaign. This could be view-through rate, CPM, clicks, watch time, or conversions.

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