Why Youtube Should Form Part of Your Upper Funnel Strategy.

Ecommerce Strategy, Revenue Growth, Paid Media

Youtube still remains to be one of the largest free platforms for online video. The platform currently has over 2 billion users; close to half of the global online population are YouTube users (Statista).

We know that video is the most effective way of telling your brand story and therefore works incredibly well at introducing your brand to new audiences and nurturing them along a purchase journey. So if you are not utilising Youtube as part of your overall marketing strategy, you could be leaving a really big opportunity on the table.

Youtube Viewing Habits

Youtube has the largest reach within 16-34s across all devices. The nature of Youtube and allowing content to be viewed on mobile, desktop and Connected TV means that it is incredibly accessible. The sheer volume and variety of content also means that on average, nearly 2 hours of video is being consumed across devices per user each day.

According to data collected by BARB, Youtube has a larger reach than standard broadcast TV channels and even streaming platforms like Netflix. So whilst you may think that TV advertising is the pinnacle of video advertising (and in some ways, it is still the gold standard), Youtube should not be sneered at as a means of reaching a very large group of users.

In short, Youtube is an incredible tool at the very top of your funnel. It displays your brands purpose, story and personality to a large audience who may never have heard of you before.

The Value of Youtube

Video advertising, especially TV, has the reputation of being expensive but that actually isn't the case.

Actually, if we separate Youtube out from other forms of online video, you can see that the cost per thousand for an average 30sec placement is actually very inexpensive but is the lowest driver of ad revenue compared to BVOD and all other online video. We can assume in that case that competition amongst brands will be less across Youtube as the investment generally is lower.

The true value of Youtube as part of your Upper Funnel activity will heavily rely on your understanding of reporting and KPIs. Using Youtube as an introducer of your brand means you cannot expect it to drive a large amount of revenue initially. It is there purely to push brand messaging and get your brand in front of more eyes. The value comes in website visits which can then be exploited in retargeting layers; brand awareness, recall and reputation.

Don't report on ROI or ROAS in the early stages, it will make the channel look ineffective. Instead look at CTR, VTR, brand search volumes or its effect on other channels. If you're using an attribution tool like Northbeam, you can assess how Youtube is influencing or starting purchase journeys and its interaction with other channel.

Youtube Ad Placements

There are lots of different placement options within video advertising on Youtube. Remember that YT is housed within Google Ads so your PPC team should have visibility over these options. There's advantages to all of these placements so, as we always suggest, test and learn which work better for you brand and your budget.

Skippable In-Stream

Skippable In-Stream ads are the ads that users see either before, during or after a video play. The skippable nature of these ads means that after 5 seconds the user has the option to skip the ad altogether.

The unique feature with Skippable In-Stream is that you are only charged per view when you choose CPV bidding. A view is categorised as:

  • Any view of 30secs

  • A view of the entire duration of your ad

  • An interaction with the ad

If you are able to make enough of an impact within the first 5 seconds of your ad, you could be building brand recall for free.

With Target CPM, Target CPA, and Maximize conversions bidding strategies, you will be charged based on impressions so the above rule would not apply. Ultimately your bidding strategy will depend on your overarching goals but bare in mind that CPV could be really cost effective if you have a great creative or production team.

Skippable In-Stream ads appear on watch pages and across sites and apps that form part of the Google video partners network.


In-feed video ads are a great tool if you already have great organic Youtube content. The ad consists of a thumbnail image of your video with some text; much like you would see with an organic video listing. In-Feed video ads invite more people to click and watch the video in areas of discovery.

In-feed video ads appear:

  • On YouTube search results

  • Alongside related YouTube videos

  • On the YouTube mobile homepage

You'll only be charged when a user clicks on the thumbnail to watch the video; again meaning you can exposing your brand name to new audiences for free regardless of whether they click on the ad.

However, when users do click and are taken through to your video, they will not be expecting to be sold to. Using existing, well performing organic video will be the best port of call. If you only have video set up to sell sell sell, this format may not be for you.

Non Skippable In-Stream

Non Skippable In-Stream ads work in almost an identical way to Non-Skippable. The only difference being that these ad formats cannot be skipped. This is especially useful if you want 100% of the audience to see 100% of your message. If you have a product that needs explaining or have a very particular message, this could be a great format for you to test.

Because these ads are not skippable, they need to be entertaining enough to sit nicely alongside the organic content the user has chosen to view. Think about this when briefing your creative team. You do not want your ads to be intrusive or annoying, otherwise the user may just leave their device to play out your ad whilst their attention is elsewhere.

Ads need to be less than 30 seconds long and you will be charged based on impressions with a target CPM bidding strategy.


Bumper Ads are short bursts of un-skippable messaging. They are no longer than 6 seconds and are placed before, during or after the user's chosen video. This ad placement is only available for Awareness and Consideration campaign goals.

Bumper ads work well alongside other ad placements to enforce brand fame. It is a gentle nudge to the audience, reminding them that you brand exists. 6 seconds is not a very long time so it is essential that your creative has impact through strong visuals, audio and a strong creative theme or strapline that is consistent across your entire campaign.

Bumper ads could also work well slightly further down the funnel to display promotional messages such as Black Friday sale or seasonal drops and launches.


Outstream ads are only available on mobile and only play on websites and apps running on GVP. They will not be served on Youtube itself. However, there are still many options when it comes to mobile placements. For mobile web placements, you will find video banners and for outstream app ads, you will find banners, interstitials, in-feed, native in both portrait and fullscreen modes.

An oustream ad will start muted with the option for the user to un-mute so make sure you either have subtitles or the ad makes sense without sound!

Outstreams are charged on a vCPM model and you'll only be charged when 2 or more seconds of your ad is viewed. They're designed to increase video reach at a really efficient cost. If you know that your audience are largely a mobile audience and spend a lot of their online time on mobile, this could be a placement to consider.


Note: Masthead ads are only available when placements are reserved through a Google Sales Representative.

Looking to drive a huge amount of awareness is a very short space of time? Masthead placements might be for you - they're like hiring a huge Youtube billboard.

Across desktop, a Masthead ad will autoplay at the top of the Youtube Home feed for up to 30 seconds. It utilises both widescreen and 16:9 apect ratios and will also automatically pull assets from your channel as part of an information panel. There are also option to include companion videos within this format. A click through on a Masthead ad will take a user through to the Youtube watch page to view the entire video.

On mobile the ad will comprise of a video thumbnail, custom headline, description text and external CTA. A mobile Masthead will also pull the channel name and icon from the advertisers channel. The ad will autoplay in full, with no sound at the top of the mobile website or Youtube App.

Go big with Masthead TV ads. A featured Masthead ad will autoplay in full, without sound at the top of the Youtube App for Smart TVs in either widescreen or 16:9 aspect. Although you can't add a CTA to a TV Masthead placement, users are able to use their TV remote to interact and engage with the ad in order to watch the entire video full-screen.

Speak to your Google Ad Representative to discuss CPM and placement opportunities. Mastheads can work especially well around Event Live Streaming but would come at a premium cost.

Creative Best Practises

  • Take note of the maximum length of video recommended by each ad format.

  • Remember, video at the top of funnel should be used to build stories not outwardly promote sales so ensure your creative reflects this

  • Even though some of these formats are Audio-off, please don't forget the part that sound can play in building emotion into these stories

  • Voice overs should be subtitled if the words are paramount to your message

  • Ensure to have widescreen, 16:9 and 9:16 aspect ratios to accommodate all formats including In-Feed within Youtube Shorts

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If you or your brand are looking for support with a particular service or have a question about what you've just read, get in touch and we'll be happy to help!

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If you or your brand are looking for support with a particular service or have a question about what you've just read, get in touch and we'll be happy to help!