4 Steps for Shooting Successful Web Video – The YouTube Advertiser Playbook: Part 1

4 Steps for Shooting Successful Web Video – The YouTube Advertiser Playbook: Part 1

Share on

YouTube definitely wants you to succeed.  The more that you do, the more that they do.  Last year, YouTube gave us the YouTube Creator Playbook, which gave us a step-by-step process in which a great channel filled with great content could reach a wide audience.  And we covered each section.  This year, YouTube released the Advertiser Playbook, which is a comprehensive guide from pre-production to publishing.  And the first section we’ll be covering is the planning stage.  You can’t shoot a succession of videos that will gain an audience without a plan (in most cases), so let’s see what the people at YouTube say about it.

Make A Plan: The Steps Of Pre-Production

Much like the Creator Playbook, the Advertiser Playbook has a basic overview for each section.  In the “Make A Plan” portion of the playbook, YouTube breaks it down into four steps:

  • Write a Creative Strategy
  • Choose a Creative Approach
  • Write a Script
  • Make a Storyboard

Step 1: Writing A Creative Strategy

Writing a creative strategy sounds simple enough, but what exactly goes into it?  I mean, you could say you want women, 18-35, to buy your product, but that’s still a bit broad.  The Advertiser Playbook follows a business called “Northlake Bed & Breakfast” in Vermont.  The questions/entries on the creative strategy are as follows:

Background Info

  • Company Name
  • Product/Service Description
  • Promise/Guarantee
  • Where Product/Service Is Sold

The background information for your company is where you look at yourself. What do you offer? What is your identity? What do you hope your customers get out of your product or service? If you want to open a business, you should know where your specialties lie.  More importantly for the purposes of this article, what do you want to highlight in a video?  What do you want your potential customers to see that will attract them to your place of business?

Target Audience

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Annual Income
  • What’s Important To Them?
  • What Do They Want Or Need?
  • Are There Any Upcoming Opportunities?

This takes some research, doesn’t it?  I mean, unless you’re already a successful business owner who knows almost everything about the customers that go in and out of their shop.  Who you target is also part of your identity: are you for wealthy people, or middle-income families, or everyone?  And a video that speaks to this audience has to be made in a way that appeals to them.  You might have a great concept for a great video, but then you try to court the wrong target audience with it and all that work will be for nothing.

There’s at least one extreme example of a business knowing who their target audience is, and definitely not throwing a wide net.  It’s the K-Swiss Kenny Powers videos.  This video has lots of salty language, and you’ve been warned:

The K-Swiss ads are so anti-everything you’ve ever seen in an ad before.  Bad language is a taboo, but there is a target audience out there who thinks it’s is not all that offensive, or at the very least, funny.  And that’s who K-Swiss wants.

  • What Is The Main Goal Of Your Video?

This is pretty self-explanatory.  I think most people are looking for more sales: the Advertiser Playbook mentions “driving traffic to the website” as a goal as well as “answer customer questions.”  So those are important considerations, too.  Maybe your video isn’t there just to increase sales but to help people out, so that you can better communicate to them and…make more sales.

Calls to Action

  • What Is Your Call-To-Action?

The Advertiser Playbook lists an example of “calling the number” or “visiting the website.”  Those kinds of calls to action can measure the success of your video in reaching an audience.  Here’s something I’m sure all sorts of businesses do: “Mention the video and get 10% off” or something like that.  But an increased volume in calls and visits to the website also can be attributed to your video.

Step 2: Choose A Creative Approach

This step could be confused with, “find an absolutely slam-bang original way to promote your service/product.”  And while that would be amazing, what this section is really focusing on is “finding a way that works for you, here’s a few examples.”

For instance, we all know about Blendtec, which took an original tack to promoting their blenders:

But the YouTube Advertiser Playbook focuses on Mike Chang.  Last year, ReelSEO’s Greg Jarboe wrote about Chang’s success story.  His “Six Pack Shortcuts” channel is getting ever-nearer to 100 million views total.  Chang’s channel started with simple workout videos, a la what you see on late-night cable.  They spent a couple hundred bucks on YouTube’s Promoted Videos feature.  Later on, this video was posted and went on to hit 5 million views:

Here are several types of creative approaches:

Informational Videos

  • About Your Business
  • Testimonials
  • Product Demonstrations

As the Advertiser Playbook says, “Informational videos help you explain the basics of your product or service and create an emotional bond between you and your customers.”  In other words, you’re not just somebody out to get money, you give them background into your story and let others testify to the soundness of your product.  In other words, you’re drawing people in and gaining trust with your (and others’) story.

And, funny enough, YouTube uses this video as a testimonial for their own power, using many of the representatives of the businesses we’ve seen over the past year make it really big on YouTube:

Educational Videos

  • How-To
  • Presentations/Speeches
  • Product Instructions

Educational videos show that you know your stuff, that you’re not blowing smoke. So once you establish that, you gain customer confidence.

Sales Videos

  • Direct Sales
  • Promotions

It’s pretty obvious what sales videos do: they directly sell the product to the customer.  And as I mentioned in the above section, “Promotions” are where you are giving people incentives for watching the video through discounts and special offers.

Step 3: Write A Script

The Advertiser Playbook lists these 8 steps for writing a good script:

  • Keep It Simple
  • Hook Your Viewer
  • Focus On Your Audience
  • Write Conversationally
  • Read Your Script Out Loud Before You Press Record
  • Use One Creative Approach Per Video
  • Issue A Clear Call To Action
  • Make It Compelling

Keep It Simple

This video should be easy to understand for everybody.  You’ll lose people getting too complex if they’re not ready for it.

Hook Your Viewer

Just like the Creator Playbook states, you need to get your viewer hooked in under 15 seconds or they may wander somewhere else.

Focus On Your Audience

You figured out who your target audience was earlier, so what kind of video would they like to see?  Is it young and hip, is it multi-generational, is it for those later on in years?  Remember that K-Swiss ad that I embedded above?  Is that for people over 50?

Write Conversationally

So many videos can appear to be stilted because of awkward inclusions into sentences.  People should sound normal, which is why the next step is so very important:

Read Your Script Out Loud Before You Press Record

There will be nothing better to test out how the script sounds than when you read it out loud.  Those hard-on-the-ears, hard-on-the-mind lines can be quickly re-written once you read it out loud a few times.

Use On Creative Approach Per Video

Don’t make a testimonial video and tack on a how-to in the middle of it.  Your message is simple and direct and focused.

Issue A Clear Call To Action

Also a staple of the Creator Playbook, a call-to-action gets your audience involved, absorbed, and excited about your video/service/product.  Many times it’s a question to be answered, others it’s a call for those to get to know more about you.

Make It Compelling

What the Advertiser Playbook focuses on here is “honesty” and “emotion.”  In other words, why is this story worth telling, and how does your product/service help others?

The Advertiser Playbook also calls attention to the old scriptwriting hallmark of making your script have a beginning, middle, and an end.  The beginning of the script should introduce “characters” and a “problem.”  The middle should show detailed ways that the product/service addresses that problem and helped others.  The end should summarize what you have to offer overall.


The Advertiser Playbook mentions these five ways to get a script started:

  • Solve A Problem
  • Open With A Question
  • Share A Personal Story
  • Introduce Yourself
  • Start In The Middle

Most of these are self-explanatory.  Of all the steps here, “Start In The Middle” might be the one you are most curious about.  That’s where you get right into the meat of the story right away.  You’ll see a lot of TV shows do this when their beginning might not be compelling enough, so they put a character in a situation from a future point in the story where they are in danger or have lost everything, and the compelling part of the story becomes, “How did they get into this situation?”

You probably aren’t going to go the route of an hour-long drama, though.  The Advertiser Playbook uses the example of a pizza company starting in the middle with, “Pepperoni, sausage, onions, mushrooms…all in a crispy crust…all in 15 minutes or less.  It’s the working mom’s special.”  So instead of showing a working mom and her busy day and then showing us a pizza, this model shows the pizza right away.  Here’s a pizza that’s quick and easy, and here’s who it’s for.

Really, all of your beginnings should have this in mind–how do I grab the audience right away?  Even in the boring ol’ “Introduce Yourself” suggestion, you should have something in mind that will make people want to watch.  What is it about your “character” that is compelling?


  • Explain Your Business Expertise
  • How Does It Solve Customers’ Problems?
  • How Does It Fit Into The Local Community?
  • What Makes Your Business Unique?
  • How Do You Approach Your Business?
  • What Makes You Different From The Competition?
  • What Is Your Customer Service Philosophy? (what do you do to make your customers feel special?)
  • Where Is Your Business Located? (where can they buy your product?)

Here, you’re pretty much highlighting all of your features.  What are you offering, and why is your business uniquely tailored to provide it?  Again, and we can’t emphasize this enough, you are playing to a target audience.  So the things you provide should be directed at them.  And your target audience should believe that they can’t get the things you provide anywhere else, or are at least better than the other businesses out there.  You can focus on location, price, amenities…all tailored to your audience.


Summarize what you do, wrap it in a tidy bow, and give your audience a call-to-action whereby they can learn more, or get incentives from watching the video.

Step 4: Make A Storyboard

What a storyboard does is make it easier to shoot your video.  You might be imagining it in your head, the kind of shots you want, what that shot looks like.  And that’s where drawing something rough on paper helps so that you can remember, “Hey, I want that shot, and this is how we’re going to do it.”  Alfred Hitchcock was famous for using storyboards in his films.  Here’s one from the most famous scene in Psycho:

Of course, you’re not likely going to do a scene as violent as this for your product, but it shows, in a summarized way, how the shots were going to be made in the Psycho shower scene.

And what this does is gets you an idea of where you want to set the camera.  You can figure out if you want a wide shot, medium shot, close-up, two-shot, etc.  Is it at night, is it inside?  It’s just a brief description, and the pictures don’t even have to be good.  Use stick figures if you’d like, just get the message across.

This is the first of several looks into the YouTube Advertiser Playbook.  Stay tuned to ReelSEO for more in-depth looks at this newly-published guide.


Video Industry

Share on

Read More Insights

©2022 Tubular Insights & Tubular Labs, Inc.