YouTube’s Search Ads – Will You Buy Them?

    October 18, 2008

Google will announce its third quarter financial results on Thursday, and in the meantime, the company seems to be looking for revenue under every rock… and YouTube may be the biggest rock of all.

Searches for all sorts of terms on YouTube are turning up links to one or more "promoted videos" on the right-hand side of results pages.  Each ad consists of one small image and Google Adwords-style text ad.

These hybrid ads combine Google-type text ads with video content from YouTube.  The ads link to a sponsored page on YouTube that consist of user generated content found on YouTube itself. For instance, Toyota Corolla has sponsored a "Best In Jest" page featuring a top ten list of funny YouTube videos. Below the videos, Toyota promotes the vehicle and links to pages on Sometimes these ads link to customized profile-like sponsor pages, while others will simply play a video.

As with all social media in general, visitors aren’t often at YouTube to buy products. It will be interesting to hear from marketers about the effectiveness of their YouTube advertising as this gets more play. In effect, advertisers like Toyota aren’t necessarily looking for direct leads on YouTube, in as much as they are seeking to further brand their Totoyota Corolla vehicle with YouTube’s younger and "hipper" audience.

Many companies have already had good experiences with online video (specifically YouTube). The WillItBlend folks have seen their sales increase thanks to online videos, and plenty of other companies have seen fit to create YouTube channels.

The real value to utilizing YouTube and video in general from a marketing standpoint, is that it’s become a good platform for viral marketing.  Nike and Gatorade have illustrated this and small businesses can employ the same strategy too.  If a video turns out to be particularly successful in terms of views (and businesses are citing a range from 100,000 to 500,000 views as successful), then it could eventually be turned into a full-blown television ad.  Google’s got your back on that, with a recent deal signed with NBC.

The YouTube search ads come in the midst of what seems like a real monetization revolution for YouTube.  We saw commercials appear earlier this month, followed by ecommerce deals with iTunes and Amazon.  Then there’s the CBS agreement to consider.  YouTube really appears to be branching out in terms of making money from its popular service.

So keep an eye on that right column, as YouTube’s likely to start letting in more advertisers, and it may just be the next big thing for Google and possibly even marketers, too.