YouTube advertising experiment

Well, this is illuminating. I decided to advertise our campaign through YouTube for the first time. You know… those ads that pop up in front of  people’s videos that you can skip? This is the first time I’ve ever done this with ANY of my videos.

So here are some important stats on the ballerina video before I did this: Last night the video had 844 views (with 35 thumbs up). These were acquired organically over the course of eleven days. People either shared it or got a link to it through our mailing list and social media pages.  From those 844 we got $845  in pledges. So our campaign got a dollar closer to its funding goal for every view the video got organically. This was a pretty consistent conversion throughout.

Now, YouTube prides itself in tailoring ads to people’s interests. Surely you’ve noticed how the ads that pop up for you usually relate to your search queries or previously browsed products.  So I thought, ok, let’s see how effective this is.

At the recommended rate of $0.02 per view I decided to have our ballerina video included in youtube’s circulation of ads.  Overnight my view count almost doubled (over 1,500 views as of right now). I was impressed to say the least. I thought most people would just skip the video.

So I was eager to check our indiegogo campaign and see how many pledges this had resulted in….  not a one. Not even a new video comment or even a thumbs up. I took a closer look at my Adwords stats and noticed that despite all the views (over 700) the ad was only clicked on 8 times and was costing me an average of $0.54 per click. The click link was the indiegogo campaign page itself.

My conclusion?   Well, it has to mean one of three things. Bots, bad placement on youtube’s part or ineffective ad campaign on my part.  Either way, I would say the approach is not going to work.

What’s peculiar though, is that Google is telling me that my click through rate (CTR), according to the stats is over 50% which is impressively great!  But HOW can this be true?     This could only mean that YouTube counts as “views” even if the add is immediately skipped which means that of those 700 new views only 16 are ACTUAL views that didn’t skip the ad and only these 16 are factored into their CTR calculation. The rest are just the number of times it popped up in front of a video for someone to skip.  Hmm.. this seems like an effective way to merely make it seem like you’re getting lots of views when you really aren’t. Lame!

Canceling it! Because regardless of the reason, paying 50 cents per a click that leads to no pledges, is not good business.

What do you think? Am I making the right decision? Should I have done something differently? You can see what I’m talking about on and look at the ballerina video.


4 thoughts on “YouTube advertising experiment

  1. HI
    Promoting video on youtube is really risy & tricky if you have not much experience. It can consumed all your budget instantly.
    the most important part to learn is its targeting method. If you can control over targeting with proper setting, then you can get better result…

    I used to manage campaign for a client who was getting very good result with a daily spent of about $200-$250 .. One day suddenly they charged $2000 (that was daily maximum budget but never used )… The google excuse was that they had lots of search & viewer on that day// 😦

    But, still I think youtube ads is great


    1. Thanks for mentioning that Anil! It’s quite possible I’m just too much of a noob. Will give it another go and see if I can get better results. I was impressed that I was getting a 50% click through rate. Maybe that’s normal. Don’t know. Disappointed, however, to see that even when ads are skipped they’re counted as views. So in the end it was costing about $1.5 to get someone to watch the video and therefore $3 to get someone to click the link. None of which converted into an actual “sale”. And considering that my sales conversion was $1 per view when sending the video DIRECTLY to our audience, and through adwords costing $1.5 to get someone to simply watch the ad…I can’t imagine any amount of keyword/audience targeting could possibly improve my odds. But thanks to you, I’ll give it another try and see 🙂 I suspect it’s also a budget issue. I’m sure if I spent $1,000 on a campaign, I’d see some tangible results. Hard to imagine it would result in $1,000 in sales, however. I suspect you have to spend over $10,000 before advertisements of this kind have any meaningful effect. Especially with something as niche as an art manikin.


  2. I’d recommend being VERY targeted in where you place your ads (ie – find videos or channels that you know are very applicable to your target rather than using the interest groups or topics). I wrote an article about this here:

    Can’t guarantee success even if you target better as organic will always win, however, you may have more success. I’d recommend paying a YouTube influencer to talk about your campaign – probably would have more luck. Good luck :).


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