Advertising on YouTube: News, Trends, and Tips

Despina Borelidis
Despina Borelidis

Continuation of our interview with Michael Groß, YouTube Content Solutions Lead

The first part of the interview with Michael Groß, Content Solutions Lead on YouTube, was about brand awareness for brands and companies on YouTube and how to generate said brand awareness. In the second part of the interview, Michael Groß is now focusing on the versatile ad formats on YouTube.


YouTube first made advertising possible in August 2007. Which newer developments do brand advertisers benefit from today? 

Among other things, from the video ad format TrueView for Action – which should be of special interest to brands that have transactional goals and are very performance-oriented. It allows for in-stream ads – video overlays with a clear CTA. The CTAs can be customised and prompt users to obtain more detailed information about a product by clicking on the ad, for example. This ad format can be dismissed after five seconds.

For brand advertising in the mobile sector and far reaches, bumper ads are particularly popular: This format is not skippable and automatically ends after six seconds. This format is particularly exciting because 70% of all views come from mobile devices. If you think of mobile usage, then bumpers are amazing as a reminder of longer, preceding advertising messages. They only highlight a partial aspect of a brand or a new product - for example, only the "retina display" detail or just the camera of the new iPhone. In my opinion, BMW has done an excellent job with its bumper ad for the AMG model:

How can these formats be combined in a particularly profitable way?

In accordance with the principle "Tease. Amplify. Echo." – Bumpers can highlight the bigger picture in advance. Due to their brevity, they are perfectly suited as announcing ads prior to product launches. They generate anticipation and arouse interest in watching the video - the longer advertising message - in full length. This ad is then posted in the TrueView-format, for example, and leads to deeper insight about the product. Likewise, bumpers can serve as the closing element of a campaign, building on longer spots and echoing details of the story. The lion’s share - the actual, bigger story – is meant to arouse interest, whereas the shorter spots (bumpers) then trigger certain actions - for example heading to the store, downloading the app, or visiting the brand’s website

Our attention span is short and "Skip this Ad" is tempting: Which captivating tricks should brands be using so that users do not press this button?

The crux is this: Many ads are being featured in front of videos that people actually want to watch. That's why a short preview is absolutely sufficient for landing a pitch. The user always has the option to skip the ad. But brands can make sure that users stay tuned through exciting storytelling. It is best if the suspense is not just building up to a single climax, but looks more like a constant heartbeat - this keeps the attention span constant.

A good YouTube ad is like a good movie trailer without
a spoiler. More in medias res. Better storytelling. Better content. More peaks. More twists. 

What should advertisers be aware of before producing a commercial?

Whether the commercial is going to be used as a skippable or non-skippable spot on YouTube. For a skippable commercial, it is ideal if the storytelling does not follow the classic TV commercial suspense format - meaning tension, then climax, then resolution. Nowadays, we often unconsciously decide whether or not we are going to devote our precious time and attention to a video in a matter of seconds. Therefore, it is important for brand advertisers to catch the attention of the users right at the beginning and then keep it, of course! A key question in the development of a commercial can be this:

What is the key scene that makes the viewer want to continue watching?

Brands can achieve this through humour, through suspense, with a close-up face-shot, and especially when a celebrity plays a part in the spot, for example. However, that does not mean that a classic 20-second TV ad is not going to work on YouTube: YouTube also offers tailor-made solutions so that these kinds of commercials can be feature on YouTube.

"Do it like Beyoncé" – that was your rallying cry at the Facelift Summit.

Exactly. Brands should – much like “Beyoncé” by YouTuber and dancer Gabriel Valenciano - be inspired by the YouTube videos of the users. That is how they hit the nerve of their communities. It's a smart move to open up to a community at their level of interests. The success of such content unmistakably shows this.

At best, brands build their own channel, which they use to entertain and create content for, as if it were the channel of a YouTube creator.

The most challenging thing is that brands behave like a publisher that finds its own formats and publishes them on a weekly basis, for example.

What was the most impressive thing you have ever seen on YouTube? 

YouTube is the largest audio-visual database out there, with content on all sorts of topics. My personal awakening happened a few years ago: I was at home with my family over Christmas and told my grandma what I did for a living. So I searched YouTube for a video that showed the reality of life in our homeland. And I was able to find a matching video: It showed a carnival procession in our village in the 1970s. It felt like real time travel! And in the middle of this video, both my grandma and my dad were featured, which came as a total surprise. Seeing their younger versions in a YouTube video was a defining moment for me. You can really find anything on YouTube!

Despina Borelidis
Despina Borelidis

More about the author

I transform even complex information into easily consumable and inspiring content—made to entertain, educate and encourage. In the past five years I have interviewed more than 100 people. The majority have been through a difficult transformation process—personally and professionally. These stories had the highest click rates and received the best feedback which goes to show: it is the stories that are fully told that are more thought provoking, memorable, enduring and powerful.
Subscribe to our newsletter.
Subscribe to our newsletter to receive all the latest news around marketing and social networks.