How To Grab & Hold Attention With YouTube Video Advertising

Some people are calling the last few years “The Goldfish Era.”  Why?  Because studies are showing the human attention span has become about as long as those of a goldfish.  Actually, the data is showing that they’re shorter!

According to Microsoft research, which has been quoted numerous times, human attention span dropped from 12 seconds in 2000, to just 8.25 seconds in 2015. Who knows what it is today.  This huge decrease has been described as a result of multitasking and exposure to technology like smartphones and apps like Facebook.

Definitely not surprising to anybody.  What’s interesting though is that the report also points out that although us tech-savvy consumers are more easily distracted…

We are actually getting better at processing information and encoding that information to memory. If there’s no need to stay tuned in, why not move onto the next new and exciting thing for another hit of dopamine?  Connected consumers are becoming better at doing more with less via shorter bursts of high attention and more efficient encoding to memory. 

Multi-screening trains consumers to be less effective at filtering out distractions – they are increasingly hungry for something new. This means more opportunities to hijack attention but also that brands need to work harder to maintain it.

The report said that smart marketers should react in these ways…

  • Be clear, personal, relevant and (quickly) get to the point
  • Defy expectations, leverage rich media and movement to grab attention
  • Embed calls to action, be interactive, use sequential messaging, and build cohesive, immersive experiences across screens

I almost read the whole report, but I got distracted! 🙂

Take the right approach

Being successful with YouTube advertising requires a different approach than in-your-face, product-led methods of advertising.  Because of ultra-low attention spans and the option platforms have given to skip ads, grabbing attention takes a lot more than putting your product in front of a camera.  Sorry, but people just aren’t going to watch your ad.

What will they watch?  Things they’re interested in because it grabs and holds their attention.  People are not patient about getting to the content they want to consume.

To get as many people to avoid skipping your video after the allotted 5 seconds they’re required to watch it, YouTube suggests that you…

Make an effort to hook your audience within the first few seconds by addressing a common problem, asking a relevant question, or by sharing something that makes your brand stand out.

According to Facebook’s video consumption data analysis for 2016, people who watch the first 3 seconds of a particular video will continue watching it for at least 30 seconds.

Once you hook ’em, what’s going to continue to motivate them to pay attention throughout?  The better you can execute on that question, the better your video campaigns will perform. If your video feels like a TV commercial, that’s not going to cut it. The content of your video has to be…

  • The type of content the audience wants.
  • Engaging.  
  • Memorable.
  • Re-watchable.
  • Shareable.
  • Actionable.

Use what we know works

There are a number of ways you can pull this off.  You can…

Include an element of surprise.

Remarkable ads break the mold. They surprise people when they diverge from the norm and, if executed well, are entirely unforgettable…

Tug at heart strings.

With video, you have the opportunity to tell a story and incorporate both visual and auditory components to reinforce it.

Inspire viewers to take action.

Present a serious problem and then show them that, by supporting your business, they can help to turn it around. Start by outlining the problem. Share gripping facts or testimonials, demonstrating the gravity of the issue. Then, pivot to show what your company is doing to eliminate this problem. Showing potential customers that by purchasing your products they are promoting positive initiatives gives them added incentive to make a purchase (and feel good about it).

Leverage nostalgia.

People have an emotional connection to their past and enjoy reminiscing on it. By infusing advertisements with “blasts from the past,” brands can tap into these emotions, causing people to feel more favorably toward their products.

Be quirky.

Try implementing some unique, quirky aspects that will help these ads stand out to viewers.

Tell a compelling story.

Creatively show the experience of what your product/service does for people. There are essentially 7 types of plots for stories.

Create curiosity.

People always have the urge to want to know why, how, when, and where. Make them curious about something in first few seconds of the video and then make the payoff worth sticking around for.

(Credit to Erin Sagin for many of the examples above in her post 5 Tips To Create More Memorable YouTube Ads on the Wordstream blog.)

While the videos above are from large companies who invested in these ads, what makes them stand out isn’t amazing videography or celebrity endorsements. Instead, it’s the stories they tell. Whatever your budget, the best way to make your mark is to create a narrative that truly connects with the audience.

Applying to B2B

And don’t think YouTube is only for B2C.  But if you’re a B2B brand, your goal is to choose content that balances information with entertainment in a way that pleases your target audience.  Content that can work for a B2B audience includes…

  • Helpful information about news and trends in their industry.
  • Company news (Changes, Behind The Scenes, etc.)
  • Product education (Demos, how-to’s, etc.)
  • Announcements (Events, etc.)
  • Reports
  • Reviews
  • Human interest stories (Interviews, Customer Success Stories, etc.)

The value of video

Dr. James McQuivey says the value of a 1-minute video is 1.8 million words (based on a picture being worth a thousand words).  Memorable videos drive more traffic to your website; garner the right type of attention, and accomplish the goals you have in mind.