How to Create YouTube Advertising that Makes the Cash Register Ring

How to Create YouTube Advertising that Makes the Cash Register Ring

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David Ogilvy is widely hailed as “The Father of Advertising.” I recently re-read his book, Ogilvy on Advertising, as I was preparing my presentation for the Reel Video Marketing Summit. I’m planning to quote Ogilvy three times in my presentation. Yes, Ogilvy on Advertising was written in 1983, but most of the advertising techniques that worked when he wrote his book still work today.

Ogilvy-On-AdvertisingOgilvy said, “Consumers still buy products whose advertising promises them value for money, beauty, nutrition, relief from suffering, social status and so on. All over the world. In saying this, I run the risk of being denounced by the idiots who hold that any advertising technique which has been in use for more than two years is ipso facto obsolete. They excoriate slice-of-life commercials, demonstrations and talking heads, turning a blind eye to the fact that these techniques still make the cash register ring.”

For example, watch “Balsam Hill Instant Evergreen.” Uploaded on Nov. 29, 2012, this video currently has only 2,819 views.

Now, Balsam Hill Christmas Tree Co is an online retailer that sells high-quality, realistic, artificial Christmas trees, costing between $100 and $20,000. Working closely with WebMetro, their digital agency, Balsam Hill launched a YouTube TrueView remarketing campaign in 2012 for the first time.

With remarketing, Balsam Hill was able to find users who had visited its website but had not made a purchase, and re-engage them using specific creatives and calls-to-action. They also tailored their calls-to-action to YouTube, as the team optimized the first 5 seconds of the videos to complement the TrueView ad format.

To determine their best ad creatives, the team also tested multiple variations of their creatives on YouTube. They eventually narrowed their focus to the top videos that returned the best outcomes in terms of view-through rates, click-through rates, and most importantly, conversions.

Balsam Hill and WebMetro had initially focused on remarketing only to 30-day non-converters, but once they saw conversions begin to flow in, they expanded their campaign to include additional prospects on YouTube, leveraging more remarketing lists and tools. Eventually, Balsam Hill saw CPAs on YouTube that were similar in cost to search, and lower in cost than most of their traditional display campaigns.

By optimizing their creative and focusing on remarketing, the team moreover saw 10x the number of conversions compared to a previous 2011 campaign, at a cost per conversion that was lower by 87%.


Ogilvy also said, “Whenever you can, make the product itself the hero of your advertising. If you think the product too dull, I have news for you: there are no dull products, only dull writers.”

This is the tale of a PC brand struggling to stand out in a sea of sameness. The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference; that’s what the team at Y&R New York, Dell, Gorgeous/Anonymous Content, and Work Post, were up against. Dell was a brand that lacked an emotional connection with parents – an audience Dell had all the credibility in the world to bond with. Trouble was, parents didn’t know what Dell stood for; the team needed to find a compelling way to evoke emotion and build a meaningful relationship, and in turn, favorability for the brand.

The strategy: leverage Dell’s ongoing commitment to education and celebrate moments when learning becomes real. This story-driven campaign, directed at parents but told from the point of view of children and the way they see the world, came to life around the globe in all media channels. Technology is the heart and soul of the little tale of the Girl Who Could Fly. Annie is inspired by technology and empowered by technology. It’s the tool that brought learning to life and let her soar.

Ultimately the campaign drove double-digit growth in PC units sold and improved perceptions of the Dell brand. Not only did the team move brand metrics from “meh” to “yah” they also increased sales of hero units sold in every market where they aired this ad. The story of Annie had a full arc: an underdog to root for, a non-believer to prove wrong and what parent doesn’t hope to see their child soar? On top of that, the cinematic quality of the film made the spot feel more like a piece of art than an ad.


Finally Ogilvy said, “For all their research, most advertisers never know for sure whether their advertisements tell. Too many other factors cloud the equation. But direct-response advertisers, who solicit orders by mail or telephone, know to a dollar how much each advertisement sells. So watch the kind of advertising they do. You will notice important differences between their techniques and the techniques of general advertisers.”

For example, watch “Bad Breath Test – How to Tell When Your Breath Stinks.” Uploaded to the Orabrush channel on Sept. 10, 2009, this direct-response ad currently has 18,361,805 views.

More importantly, “Bad Breath Test” sold more than 1 million tongue cleaners. Orabrush’s line of oral care products have also achieved national distribution thanks to the company’s “reverse marketing model” on YouTube, which delivers high levels of awareness online to drive retail sales at 30,127 stores. As of this past weekend, Orabrush had sold more than 3,316,688 tongue cleaners. At $7.00 apiece to $39.99 for 10 brushes, that’s $13,263,435 to $23,216,816 in total revenue over less than four years.

And Orabrush isn’t a one-hit wonder. On Oct. 3, 2012, the company announced its latest product, the Orapup, a novel tongue cleaner to help cure dogs’ bad breath, was available for preorder. Orabrush also launched a campaign on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo in an effort to bring the category-creating Orapup to market more quickly.

After raising $62,572 on Indigogo by Oct. 23, 2012, the company published “Bye Bye, Bad Dog Breath —” on the Orapup channel on Jan. 3, 2013. This direct-response ad currently has 7,594,416 views.

More importantly, this and other Orapup direct-response ads have driven 70,028 people to order Orapups totaling $1,921,974 in just over six months.





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