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YouTube Sponsored Search

Posted on Monday, June 29th, 2009 by Print This Post Print This Post

Categories - SEM, Video

In the second half of ‘08, YouTube surpassed Yahoo to become the second largest search engine after its own parent property, Google, according to various comScore reports. With this bump in traffic and prestige, it’s no surprise that YouTube began promoting its own PPC-based advertising program, YouTube Sponsored Search, around the same time.

Much like Google’s own AdWords program, Sponsored Search allows advertisers to bid on keywords in an auction-based pricing system in order to display videos and text on the top and right rail of organic search results within YouTube. In fact, the program uses the AdWords algorithm and advertisers can manage their accounts right from the AdWords user interface.

However, because YouTube users may be searching for slightly less sophisticated reasons than users on Google (searches skew toward entertainment or diversion rather than information or purchase research), the types of keywords one should bid on may be different. In a recent webinar on the new YouTube program, AdWords representatives encouraged advertisers to focus more on one/two word, high volume queries that may be too expensive in AdWords but that may be cheap and effective in Sponsored Search.

In order to learn the nuances of YouTube’s new offering on our own, The Search Agency’s SEM Editorial Department collaborated to create a video advertisement for Travelation, a discount online travel website. As no budget existed for this test, the team designed a fast, funny video concept that could be executed for free using only existing resources. TSA employees acted in the piece, which was shot with webcams around the office and edited with out-of-the-box Windows software.  Have a look:


While the video has only been online for a short time, response has been overwhelmingly positive and TSA has quickly identified some of the following best practices:

  • NOT having overly-polished content is actually an advantage on YouTube, which is mostly made up of videos produced on home cameras and cell phones. Too slick of a presentation screams “commercial” and can lead viewers to avoid your content.
  • Comments left after the video can provide clues to what type of viewers are interested in your video as well as insight into which terms you should be bidding on.
  • The webinar recommendation bears out: advertisers shouldn’t be shy about trying terms they would never bid on in AdWords – very general terms, related products they don’t sell, terms that describe their target audience… Creativity in approach can lead to substantial rewards.
  • In addition to the paid placement, once MUST pursue organic methods of getting traffic in order to best take advantage of YouTube’s audience: optimizing your channel page, choosing highly relevant tags for the video, commenting on related videos with your ad’s URL, etc.
  • Using a coupon code is an easy way to track the efficacy of your video, which can be embedded and displayed in many other places outside of YouTube such  as Facebook, Digg, etc.

About Chad Fifer

Chad Fifer has managed the SEM editorial team at The Search Agency for four years while also providing SEM account services for his own suite of clients. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Chad has worked as a writer and editor in the online space since the late 90s, covering such diverse fields as advertising, entertainment, insurance, medicine and politics.

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2 Responses to “YouTube Sponsored Search”

  1. Alec Green says:

    Great best practices for any advertiser. These videos have the potential to generate enduring viral interest at a fraction of the cost of a traditional :30 spot.

  2. Amazing practices for the advertisers, we do follow same instructions to achieve best results.


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