Updated: Dec 7, 2018
There are ways to use cost-per-view (CPV) as a metric for growth and authority on YouTube. This is how you do it.
YouTube is a powerhouse
With the near complete market dominance of YouTube and the ubiquity of video as an advertising vehicle, it can be difficult to establish a reputable presence on the platform.
While organic growth is always desirable on social platforms where engagement is key, one of the most effective ways in which to grow your YouTube channel into a hub for your brand is through Google’s powerful Ads tool. While competing in keyword buying via Google can be overwhelmingly costly, YouTube is much more forgiving when it comes to smaller budgets. The caveat being that, like with almost anything, you must be diligent in analyzing your ads daily and making the proper keyword adjustments based on your budget.
Defining your keyword targets
Like with any process, determining your goals and intended audience should be the first steps you take before spending money on your keyword campaign. Often I have found that what I originally thought would be my prime demographic, is not in fact the people who are looking for my content.
I will walk you through a recent client campaign of mine that details not only why you should pay attention to what your data is telling you, but also to the means in which you choose to spend your ad budget. Google Ads is a powerful platform, but at the end of the day, it exists for Google to make money off of YouTube, search and partner sites, not to provide you with a cheap advertising option. Only through diligence and constant analysis can you leverage Google Ads to your advantage.
Start relatively small when choosing your keywords, I typically round it off to 10 or 15, then adjust up or down from there depending on what kind of data I am getting back. While there is not a concrete time frame for finding success, in my experience you need at least two weeks to gather enough relevant data to make adjustments that will show you significant gains. Think of this first two weeks as an incubation period of sorts. Gather your data while making minor, obvious adjustments, and prepare to really go all in once you have a clear idea of what is working and what isn’t.
The case for CPV as your buying metric on YouTube
In the example I will be using I began the campaign using cost-per-thousand (CPM) as my buying method, thinking that from a budget perspective I would probably gain more views at a lower cost since I was (hopefully) reaching more prospective viewers. What I had not accounted for is that when running advertising on YouTube via Google Ads you can only use bumper ads when buying via CPM, which are limited to 6 seconds in length. That isn’t much time to grab viewers, and your creative has to be extremely strong, mine was not up to the task. It became obvious after only two days that this was the wrong approach, so I quickly pivoted to running TrueView in-stream ads and setting my maximum CPV at .10¢.
While this rocketed my views up, it was costing a small fortune on a limited budget, so again, a significant change was required. I went through my keywords and removed low performers, as well as anything with a CPV over .03¢. I also adjusted my ad group to limit my bidding to .03¢, deciding that with the budget I was working with, we could maintain running ads through around 2:00 pm CDT before daily budget constraints kicked in based on previous spend up to this point.
Following the CPV trendline
If you take a look at the below graphic, you can clearly see where about a week in I realized that .10¢ CPV was too high, as I was exhausting my budget before 10:00 am local time and losing the rest of the day to inactivity on the platform.
The adjustment to .03¢ CPV didn’t hurt me like I thought it would, as it turns out I was garnering almost as many views as I was at .10¢, but with the added benefit of over four extra hours of run time. It’s noticing these trends in your data that will not only improve your campaign performance, but also stretch your budget, something clients always appreciate.
Demographic influence on keyword buying
In addition to the cost information above, I was noticing a surprising bit of insight in the demographics of my viewers on YouTube. While I was initially focusing on the 18-25 age groups for this particular campaign, the demographics that were actually providing me with the best view rate and view lengths were ages 35-65+, something I was not expecting. This had a seismic effect on my keyword buying, as the two groups were gravitating to entirely different themes, and the older demos were watching more frequently, and for almost 20% longer in duration.
I quickly transitioned from buying keywords based around “anime”, “manga” and “japan”, to buying “Christmas”, “holiday music” and “Christian music”. Remember, if you pay constant attention to your campaigns you will be able to see trends early enough to mitigate missteps in budget spend and better transition to reducing spend earlier in the process. In the case study we are looking at here, I was able to decrease my spend from almost $100 a day to around $15 a day, and on much more qualified targets that are converting at a significantly higher rate.
View rate is king for brand awareness video campaigns in Google Ads
Often when marketers think of branding they associate that with views or impressions instead of view rate or duration, but why is that? Sure, views and impressions mean that theoretically people are seeing your product, but are they actually noticing it?
By using view rate and duration you can confirm two things, people are either interested in your creative and/or product, and to take that a step further, view duration can give you insight as to just how interested they are.
Let’s look at our example here. If you look at the below graph (A) you can see that my view rate over time is consistent across all of my keywords that I am targeting after making initial adjustments. This was done about 10 days into the campaign, and as you can see from the keywords being targeted, I am pulling in an impressive 63.25% average, a number almost any marketer would be happy to have.
Maybe as important though is that in the second graph (B) you can see that my paid discovery ads are averaging a longer watch duration than my organic traffic, not a small feat. Even my skippable ads have, at times, performed as well as my organic traffic. This is important because it tells me I am successfully finding new viewers via my Google Ads, and that my campaign is providing ROI for my client. As of this writing the video being used as an example here is at 107,334 views less than one month into the campaign, with an average view duration of 3:09 out of 4:49.
CPV and how you can focus keywords to save money
Now we know that our Google Ad campaign for this video is providing ROI and gaining not only awareness, but new subscribers and social interactions as well, but would we have achieved the same results by just sticking with CPM? Not likely. Our CPM for this particular campaign at the beginning was $4.47, not a lot of money, but it only generated a .16% view rate, which amounts to a dismal $1.53 CPV! At that rate, this campaign would have broke our budget within days, instead we’re going to spend significantly less than the budget the client gave us, which will ultimately leave them very satisfied.
After making the above discussed changes to our targeting strategy, demographics and keywords, we are currently averaging a CPV of .01¢. Yes, you read that right, we are paying $1.52¢ less than we were on day one of the campaign, savings that have instead been used to split test multiple ad variations, design new graphics and extend our budget over a significant margin of time.
Branding benefits for our client’s YouTube channel
Our client was initially looking to increase views on this particular video and gain subscribers for their YouTube channel. While both goals have thus far been achieved, we were also able to provide valuable data on where their video was performing best within the YouTube partner network, minimize spend to their budget so that they can utilize that money on their next campaign and gather empirical data to show that CPV is a crucial component when targeting keywords, as the keywords themselves are what allowed us to significantly reduce cost over time.
All of these factors served the ultimate goal our client set forth which was to establish brand credibility for their YouTube channel not only through total views, but also through an increase in subscribers, valuable interaction with their clients and by increasing their overall channel view time by over 20 seconds on average. Those gains serve to add authority to their search algorithm in YouTube, increasing future organic search traffic and decreasing the need to spend as much in the future since organic traffic will help offset the cost of future Google Ads campaigns.
Author: Marq Mosier
Marq Mosier is the Founder of Wonderland Marketing in Houston, TX. He specializes in helping small business owners find their voice in local markets through digital marketing, content development and community building.