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How to Create YouTube Ads that Connect with New Fans (Part 1)


YouTube reported this past June that they have over 1.5 billion active users per month, each watching, on average, an hour of free video daily, mostly on mobile devices. Watching videos for free means more advertisements. You know, those ads you “skip” after three or five seconds? Or the overlaid ads you “X” out of as you’re watching a video? Now, when you’re just a viewer waiting to watch the new R3HAB music video for the 20th time — yeah these can get frustrating. However, when you’re the one running the ads, you obviously don’t want potential new fans to feel the same way about your ads. No, you want them to see them, like them, and absorb the message – all within about five seconds (see below).. With your own marketing goals in mind, let’s talk about how to create YouTube ads that potential fans won’t want to bypass.

The site has made it almost too simple for people without video skills or media-savviness to create ads to target potential new customers or fans across their platform. The most common way to make YouTube ads is through TrueView and Google Adwords. (Watch a YouTube video of the four different kinds of TrueView ads here.)

As a musician striving to acquire new fans and gain some extra exposure, the types of ads you should be utilizing on YouTube are pre-roll video ads. Out of all the many advertising options available on YouTube why is this systematically the most success for artists? That’s because pre-roll video ads allow viewers to actually get a taste of what your sound is. Obviously, with a banner ad or any other static YouTube ad, that won’t be possible.  

Before we even get into the “how,” let’s first think about the “why.” Below are just a few from a long lists of reasons an artists may look to YouTube ads:  

  1. To raise awareness about a new track or release
  2. To promote a new music video
  3. To tease upcoming projects, gigs, or interviews

Creating Your YouTube Pre-Roll Ad

It’s important to note — if you budget more than $150 for a video ad (i.e., 500-1500 paid views, and you only pay when your ad is viewed in full), that $150 also counts toward your overall video views, so it basically pays for itself if you get enough engagement. YouTube will even send a professional director to shoot your video for you for free. But if you don’t have that sort of budget and want to film it yourself, here are some ideas for pre-roll ads that could compel a user to watch your video in full:

1. Plan ahead. Come up with an idea and story behind your ad, and make sure it works for your brand before moving forward with it. You want to be as thorough as possible when taking on a big, potentially expensive project like this one. YouTube has an all-encompassing step-by-step guide for prepping, shooting, and editing a pre-roll ad.

2. Speak casually and candidly. Humanizing yourself and/or your band is a great way to garner fans who view you as more than just a performer. Whether you’re narrating a live-concert video speaking directly to the camera about a musical experience, or giving details about your upcoming release/show, speaking from the heart will go a long way.

3. Use humor (only as it relates to your brand). Making someone smile is a surefire way to get them to like you, so if you give someone a laugh, chances are the ad viewer won’t skip your ad and will want to see what your music is about.

4. Use YouTube’s Director for Business app. This app helps you shoot high-quality videos straight from your phone by offering pre-designed templates and shot-by-shot guides of what to do or say in the clip. You don’t even have to use a video editor to add graphics or text to your finished video — it offers those, too.

5. It’s All About The First 5 Seconds. In your typical pre-roll ad, viewers will have the ability to skip the rest of your content after the first 5 seconds. With that being said, the first 5 seconds is most likely all viewers will see. So, it’s paramount that you lead your pre-roll with the most important bit of messaging you’re trying to make viewers aware of. For example, if you’ve got a new release you’re promoting make sure you have the title, date, and services fans can find it on within the first 5 seconds of your ad.

6. Get a second, third, or even fourth opinion. Ads can be sensitive topics these days, so be sure to consult a diverse group of friends, family, and other industry leaders before committing to your ad idea. It pays to be thorough!

Whether you want to storyboard a complex concept and shoot/edit your video independently, or create a six-second bumper ad using YouTube’s Director for Business App and target with AWAL’s listener-demographic data, anyone can create a pre-roll ad these days and garner new fans from across the world.

In part two of our in-depth look into how to create YouTube pre-roll ads, we’ll take a close look at how to target and retarget, incite action from viewers, analyze your results, and more. Sign up to our newsletter and stay tuned!