Many people think of YouTube as a place to watch cat videos and post clips of their kids singing silly songs. However, marketers should take YouTube as seriously as they do Google.
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By many counts, YouTube is the second-largest search engine (behind Google and ahead of Yahoo). In June 2011, ComScore reported that Americans had more than 5.6 billion YouTube viewing sessions per month, with the average visitor frequenting the site 23 times a month at an average of 26 minutes per visit. Reports show that YouTube passed 20 billion video views during October 2011 alone.
YouTube's millions of visitors do a lot of searches, either by way of Google or the YouTube site itself. Predictably, sophisticated video search is the cornerstone of YouTube’s success.
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For marketers, this means you need to think about your video strategy as carefully as you do your paid search strategy. Creating compelling videos and posting them on YouTube is a given -- but you also have to get people to watch them. Make sure your videos turn up in search by using YouTube Promoted Video Ads to ensure your videos get found. The ads operate much like Google paid search ads, enabling advertisers to draw attention to videos, gain viewers and channel subscribers, and eventually influence downstream conversions. According to visitors’ search results, Promoted Videos appear either at the top or at the right of the page.
Additionally, with a Promoted Videos account, marketers can add overlays to their videos that link directly to their site, offer a promotion, etc., which will drive traffic to their sites and directly boost sales. Given the prominence of YouTube today, every marketer should consider a Promoted Videos program. Here are a few practical steps to get you started.
1. Create a Channel
Before you even think about buying Promoted Video ads, make sure you have a complete presence on YouTube. Start by creating engaging videos (not just one, but several) that promote your products and services in a fun, dynamic way. Don’t make these videos “salesy,” but instead focus on entertaining people. Experiment with different kinds of video, including how-tos, product reviews, customer testimonials and professionally-produced marketing videos. To create these videos, you can work with an agency, hire a video production company or shoot some yourself.
Once you’ve generated a menu of videos, create a YouTube channel to showcase them. Just as important, add accurate titles, descriptions and tags to every video; YouTube will use these keywords to match your video with visitors’ search queries. Over time, make sure to monitor video feedback. If a video achieves a positive response, it’s time to invest in promoting it.
2. Keywords are Key
Like other Google ads, Promoted Videos are managed through AdWords and follow a similar format to paid search, so search marketers may find the process of creating Promoted Video ads quite simple. When creating an ad, make sure the thumbnail description and ad copy reflect the nature of your video. Like paid search, you can select between broad, phrase, exact or negative match types for your Promoted Video keywords.
One thing to remember: YouTube visitors are looking just for video content, so their search habits differ from traditional search. That means porting over keywords from search or display campaigns won’t work. Instead, choose keywords that relate to the video you’re promoting. YouTube offers advertisers a keyword suggestion tool that provides recommendations based on your video description, video id/URL or target demographic. The tool, currently in beta, also provides monthly search volume statistics for each keyword, so you can see which keywords visitors tend to use more often.
3. Make Every Bid Count
When it comes to bidding for Promoted Video keywords on YouTube, approach the task as you would a paid search or display campaign. That means setting a conversion goal and determining an expected volume and budget for each month. Naturally, you’ll want to determine the value of each click before making bids. A third-party bidding tool, particularly one integrated with your SEM campaigns, proves useful in managing your YouTube bidding decisions and assessing the results of your Promoted Video campaigns.
4. Don’t Forget the Overlay
One of the primary perks of running Promoted Videos is the ability to include an overlay ad, clickable text that appears at the bottom of your video while it plays. The overlay allows you to add a link from your YouTube video to an external site, and is thus an invaluable technique to drive viewers to your site.
You can also use this space to offer a promotion, such as 20% off a customer's first purchase, which directly impacts conversion. Video is often more of a branding tool, but with the overlay, you can turn your videos into actionable, direct response campaigns.
5. Don’t be Boring
First and foremost, YouTube is a massive content destination and social network. Consumers go to YouTube to be entertained, get information, find specific video clips and then share. Therefore, create videos that engage your target audience, then embed links in the overlay or at the end of your video that encourage people to pass along. A successful video doesn’t just get views, but also elicits a response and encourages sharing.
Track the social sharing path of your videos and respond to viewer comments. If viewers ask for a follow-up video, be sure to provide one. And if your video is shared onto other social networks, be sure to respond on those channels. Participating in the conversation with viewers allows you to strengthen your brand and provides insights on how to create better videos.
Online video is no longer just "nice to have." Every marketer should have a video strategy -- and YouTube is the place to start.
This story originally published on Mashable here.