Anatomy of a Winning YouTube Video Ad

Success Factors of an Effective YouTube Ad Campaign

When it comes to creating effective YouTube ad campaigns that attract new customers to your business, there are two main factors that contribute to success:

  1. A proper campaign structure that targets the right audience, uses the best bidding strategy for your goals and utilizes sound conversion tracking.
  2. A strong YouTube video ad that compels and converts your ideal prospect.

Getting the right campaign structure is critical, and there is a decent learning curve for creating and managing YouTube ad campaigns. And, ultimately, you’re only as good as any YouTube video ad that you’re running. In fact, Google says that 70% of your success with YouTube ad campaigns comes down to your creativity. To back this up, I’ve seen the same campaign improve by 2 or 3 times when the right YouTube video ad was implemented – with no additional changes other than the content.

7 Tips For A Great YouTube Video Ad:

One of my favorite pieces of marketing advice that I’ve ever heard is to “join the conversation taking place in your customers’ heads.” To do this, you have to understand your customers. You must know the questions, desires, fears and thoughts that are banging around in the heads of your prospects. Then, you can use elements of that conversation in your advertisements. It’s always best to use the same type of language your customers use and appeal to their beliefs, wants and desires; this creates a foundation for success that forms the anatomy of a YouTube video ad. 

With that quick backdrop, let’s learn how to get your ad on YouTube in the most effective way by diving into the 7 elements of a winning YouTube video ad. Keep in mind that your video doesn't have to utilize all seven of these tips, but it should have most of them.

Tip #1: Hook ‘Em in the First 5 Seconds

Once your YouTube video ad begins to play, you've got 5 seconds before the prospect has the opportunity to skip. Usually when your ad first pops up, the prospect isn’t happy. After all, you’ve just slowed them down from watching the content they came to YouTube to watch. However, you do have 5 seconds to change their mind and make them want to stick around and watch your ad.


A great example of hooking viewers in the first 5 seconds is the PooPourri commercial, which was a viral success and sold millions of dollars of the bathroom spray PooPourri (written and produced by the Harmon Brothers). This video was effective in part because the opener was so compelling. You don't have to use humor as they did, but humor can be very effective both in getting and keeping attention. The commercial opens with an adorable, petite British girl in a dress sitting on a public toilet who boldly proclaims, “You would not believe the motherload I just dropped!” It was shocking, funny and the perfect intro for a product that solves a socially awkward problem. After the first 5 seconds of this video, it was really hard for most shoppers NOT to watch the rest of the video, which is why this ranks as one of the most highly effective YouTube ad campaigns.

Tip #2: Lead with the Strongest Benefit

Hooking your prospect is important, but hooking them in the right way, with the right benefit, is even more important. Your YouTube video ad should lead with the most substantial and appealing benefit of your product. To use old advice from the journalism field – don’t bury the lead. Put the most compelling benefit right up front so that the ideal shoppers stick around to watch the rest of what you have to say. How do you know what your most compelling benefit is? Well, it’s probably already obvious, but if not, run through these questions.  

  • When someone buys your product, what are they really buying? For example, no one buys a drill because they want a hole. They want to get stuff done — like hang a picture, or build a treehouse.  
  • What makes your product different or better than the other options? 
  • What question, image or demonstration can quickly and compellingly get your prospect thinking about your core benefit?

Some excellent examples of leading with the strongest benefit are the Geico commercials talking about how “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.” They do a great job of implanting this information in the minds of their target audience quickly and in an intriguing way.  Remember: that skip button is screaming out and your prospects are likely to click it if they don't have a reason to keep watching.

Our friends at Groove Life, the silicone ring company, take a direct approach as they lean into their strongest benefit. The video begins with Peter, the owner, running up to the camera and saying, “Hey, have you seen these new silicone rings?” and he kind of squeezes it to show that it's flexible and bendable. It’s a straightforward approach, but it works.

Tip #3: Tell the Story in a Fresh and Compelling Way

I loved the Ginsu knife infomercials when I was a kid. In fact, it was maybe the first sign that I was destined for a life in advertising. I loved seeing the knife going from cutting an aluminum can to slicing through a tomato like it was hot butter. It was fresh, interesting and different (at the time at least). But, ultimately, it showed the product in action and it was incredibly compelling.

A more recent example is from the company UntuckIt. Rather than say they’re another quality dress shirt company, they use a YouTube video ad to show how their shirt was designed to be worn untucked. They compare it to the big bulky look of wearing a typical shirt untucked, making it clear that there's just no comparison to their product in terms of fit and fashion if you like to wear your dress shirt untucked.

Similarly, Mizzen+Main demonstrates the moisture wicking and machine washable benefits of their clothing. In their YouTube ad campaigns, they show how you can wad up their shirts, stuff them in a bag and then pull them out, completely wrinkle-free and looking great. It's a different story than trying to convince someone that it’s just another great dress shirt like all the other formal attire available.

Another tremendous example is from Purple Mattress and the Raw Egg test where they demonstrate in a very powerful fashion (using a test that they created) how their mattress beats every other mattress on the market.

Tip #4: Social Proof 

Every good YouTube video ad needs at least some social proof. One of the easiest and lowest cost ads to produce is a testimonial video using user-generated content. At a minimum, showing images of actual customers using the product can be extremely convincing. And, social proof data like usage stats (1 million happy customers) can be useful in showing people that, “Hey, a lot of people are using this product and people love it and it's working for them and maybe that could work for me.” Don’t overlook social proof. You can even open with social proof like this awesome example from our friends at BOOM. As a top-performing client of ours, they have created and utilized this high-quality ad for turning cold prospects into paying customers.

Tip #5: Stack the Value

One of the first places I heard about "stacking the value" was from a brilliant fellow marketer and friend, Russell Brunson. He used this concept on webinars to show people how much value they were getting in his offer. By the time Russell finishes with a value stack, you’ll think you’re getting the product or program for next to nothing even if it cost a few thousand dollars.

While a bit over-the-top, I love the Flex Seal commercials like this one. The line “It’s like a handyman in a can” creates the perception that this $19 product does all the hard work that an expensive handyman would charge hundreds of dollars for. Plus, when you see it can be used in hundreds of applications, it becomes hard to say no to their offer.

Stack that value! Make your prospect think, “Man, I'd be silly not to take advantage of this product or this offer.”

Tip #6: Assume the Risk

Going back to our friends at Groove Life, they have an incredible No BS 94 Year Unlimited Warranty. If your ring breaks or snaps or whatever, they will replace it with no questions asked.

Think about the risk that your customer is taking.

What are their fears about the product?  What is keeping them from saying yes right now? 

How can you alleviate that?

A well thought out guarantee incorporated into your YouTube video ad may be all it takes to tip your prospect over the edge and make them say yes.

Tip #7: Have a Strong Call to Action

The last thing you want is to create a YouTube ad that your prospects are inspired by, but don't take any action on because you didn’t ask them to. If someone doesn’t know what to do next, they typically won’t do anything.

Make the next steps clear. Ultimately, that next step is to visit your landing page.

Usually, the call-to-action (CTA) to use would consist of something along the lines of “learn more,” “visit site,” “get offer,” “shop now” or something similar. You want your potential customers to feel like they are taking the next, low-risk step in the journey. Usually “buy now” as a call to action isn’t as effective, because it feels like too big of a commitment after just watching a video. The “buy now” call-to-action should come on the landing page itself.

In this screenshot, you can see where Grammarly has a button that says “it's free.”

Amplify Your YouTube Ad Campaigns With OMG Commerce

If you're ready to turn some heads and get more customers visiting your site, learn how to create a YouTube ad that is effective with help from OMG Commerce! Our team of highly trained professionals can build successful YouTube ads for eCommerce, as well as Amazon and Google. No matter what your product or service is, we'll strive to create YouTube ad campaigns that grow your business. Contact us today to schedule a free session with our staff and we'll strategize a plan that works for you.

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