Hey YouTube! Why Make it So Difficult to Share Video Ads?

When it comes to your video advertising strategy, which results do you care about most? If your answer is views, then YouTube’s TrueView is a service to consider for your distribution. If your answer is views and engagement, then you might want to look elsewhere…..

In the ad-tech industry, social virality is one of the key KPIs to measure the success of a video advertising campaign. Unlike other advertising formats, video enables a viewer to become a brand champion by sharing the content via Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms to drive social engagement and gain earned media views. Brands are spending top dollar to create compelling and engaging online videos that will captivate their audience and drive extremely valuable, unpaid views.

YouTube is THE Go-to Destination for Pre-roll Video Advertising

With Google set to earn an estimated $5.9 billion from selling video advertising and premium content to brands and agencies, YouTube has become the go-to destination for pre-roll video advertising. With TrueView, YouTube claims that video ads can be shared across an impressive list of social channels including Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, LinkedIn, LiveJournal, Digg etc.

Yet when brands and agencies are asked about the social engagement they receive from their YouTube advertising, the numbers are usually low. Why is that? Why does YouTube, one of the top social technology companies in the world, struggle to drive social engagement for advertisements that are hosted on their platform? The answer has two parts, one simple, one far more complex.

First, simply put: It is not easy to share video advertising content from YouTube onto another social platform. Think about it. When you want to share a video to Facebook, what do you do? I bet your first thought is to copy and paste the YouTube link to your wall; unfortunately, that is simply not possible if you are watching a pre-roll video ad because there is no unique link to share!

Here’s a screenshot of a YouTube video that was heavily promoted by Lancome on TrueView to over 15 million people, but has only been shared by 247 of them.

Here’s a screenshot of a YouTube video that was heavily promoted by Lancome on TrueView to over 15 million people, but has only been shared by 247 of them.

How to Share a Pre-roll Video Ad From YouTube to Facebook

Secondly, Let me walk through the five steps to share a Nexus pre-roll advertisement that was served to me from YouTube to my Facebook feed:

#1 As you watch a pre-roll video advertisement on YouTube, there is no visible sharing functionality available unless you hover over the actual video. In other words, you must hover over the video in order to “Activate” the sharing feature. Note that the “Share” button found below the video is not associated with the TrueView advertisement; it is used to share the original video you were intending to watch.

share youtube ad

#2 After you hover over the video, a pop up appears in the top right corner in tiny, gray font that says “Share”. And yet, the “Skip Ad” is prominently placed and bold in the bottom right corner.

share pre-roll youtube ad
#3 If you click on the “Share” button in the top right corner, you are redirected to that advertiser’s YouTube channel. From there, the “Share” pop-up appears below the video — which actually falls below the website fold — asking what platform you want to share it on. In other words, a user has to scroll down in order to find the social sharing function of the video ad. This then forces you to click yet ANOTHER button…

share youtube trueview pre-roll video ad

#4 Which pops up yet ANOTHER window where you are posting to Facebook.

share youtube video ad to facebook

#5 At long last, you are at your final click to sharing the video on your timeline.

youtube video ad on facebook news feed

Sharing Video Ads: Why Does YouTube Make it SO Difficult?

If advertisers are seeking social virality of their video, but the publisher makes it difficult for the viewer to share that content with their friends and family, then the advertiser is getting a lower ROI from their spend. On TrueView advertisements, there are a maze of roadblocks that resist the user from engaging with the video and sharing it anywhere else. So why does YouTube make sharing video ads so difficult? That is the complex part of the answer.

YouTube is not incentivized to drive traffic to other social networks because they are invested in keeping the viewer on their site. Unlike our video distribution service that is platform agnostic, YouTube is in a unique position as both distributor and publisher. Any good publisher wants to avoid redirecting viewers to click away from their site because it would hurt their key KPIs of keeping users on their page, time spent on the page, number of pages visited, etc. YouTube is being forced to balance the ROI they deliver to advertisers with their own internal KPIs and are effectively trading off the value to advertisers with their own internal metrics.

Now add to the fact that Google/YouTube also encompasses its own social network through Google+, which is directly competitive with Facebook and Twitter. Clearly, there is no incentive for Google to drive eyeballs and content away from YouTube onto Facebook.

If marketers want to increase their YouTube view count, then the TrueView product is a good tool to consider. However, if social virality and engagement are what you are seeking, then you should consider an alternative distribution strategy.