VideoYouTube Promoted Videos Program Tops 1 Billion Views

YouTube Promoted Videos Program Tops 1 Billion Views

YouTube has announced a new milestone: Promoted Video have delivered 1 billion views to advertisers. Let’s review the program, look at three changes to the program that were also announced today, and hear what a couple of advertisers think about it.

More than 1 billion video views have been delivered to advertisers via the YouTube Promoted Videos program. In addition to sharing news that the video-sharing site recently hit the billion-views milestone, YouTube today announced some changes to Promoted Video Ads. Let’s review the Promoted Videos program, look at the latest changes, and hear what a couple of advertisers think about it.

Promoted Videos

YouTube announced “Sponsored Videos” back on Nov. 12, 2008. The first campaign was “Penny Pranks” by Office Max. At SES New York 2009, I interviewed YouTube Product Manager Matthew Liu about Sponsored Videos, which was later renamed Promoted Videos. He called the program “AdWords for YouTube.”

Promoted Videos allows you to promote your video against search results on YouTube, against related videos on YouTube, or against content across the Google Display Network. You can set up Promoted Videos campaigns using your Google AdWords account. Similar to what you do with pay-per-click (PPC) search engine marketing, you can determine how much you would pay for a video view and set a maximum budget.

Thousands of advertisers have taken advantage of this ad format to entice likely customers with videos about everything from the Mighty Wallet to a cure for bad breath. Large and small companies this ad format to reach wide audiences with movie trailers, recipes, and ideas for Halloween. And politicians and political activists used Promoted Videos to argue for a proposition or against an issue. YouTube served its 500 millionth Promoted Video view on Oct. 28, 2010.

Latest Changes

Today, YouTube rolled out three changes to Promoted Videos:

  • Placement on Google Video search results: YouTube Promoted Video ads will appear in Google’s Video search results pages in the U.S. Advertisers can add this to their campaign by opting into “Search partners.”
  • Introduction on YouTube Mobile: YouTube promoted videos will appear on on any mobile or tablet device starting in the next few weeks. “All devices” is the default option for all new AdWords campaigns, but you can opt your ads out of showing on mobile devices by visiting the Campaigns tab, under “Settings”. Existing campaigns can verify device settings to include or exclude mobile.
  • Inclusion in TrueView video ads: Promoted Videos are now part of the “TrueView family of ad formats,” meaning advertisers are only charged when a viewer chooses to watch a video ad, on a cost-per-view basis. Originally, Promoted Videos were available at cost-per-click pricing.

Comments by Advertisers

I interviewed Troy Olson, the Digital Advertising Manager for, which owns and operates a family of web stores with a wide selection of products, from barbecue grills and accessories to patio sets. One of those web stores is

The BBQGuys channel on YouTube features Tony Matassa, the BBQGuys chef and their grill/product tester. Check out his “Homemade Pizza Dough” video below.

Here are the questions that I emailed Olson and the answers that he emailed me back:

Greg Jarboe: sells everything from home furniture and fireplaces to kitchen cookware. How did you come up with the idea for BBQGuys YouTube Videos?

Troy Olson: “We are a very customer-focused company. Our founder was originally a retail store owner, so he was really sensitive to the gap that customers experienced as they tried to shop online and make a decision. So much of the shopping experience is lost, and not necessarily the tactile experience, but the human experience. We genuinely want our customers to get the best grill for them, and remarkably we believe that is captured by the camera.”

GJ: You started with instructional videos to address customer service. When your CEO was on a business trip 1,000 miles away from home and was recognized as the “Barbecue Guy,” how did your attitude toward video morph?

TO: “Actually our owner was recognized twice within a matter of days, (the second time closer to home). That is a complete validation of our efforts, not because this person has bought a grill from us, but that the right message has been received. I was at a conference in Baltimore, by chance showing someone our YouTube channel and he immediately recognized our chef. He told me the story of how a friend had invited him over for a BBQ and was using one of our video recipes. He said that the friend was not that good of a cook, but the food tasted great. Now the key word here is ‘story’. Through video we are able to share our story, which we have learned is a seed for our customers to grow their own stories.”

GJ: In a post on the YouTube Blog last October, you said that Promoted Videos had generated almost 100,000 views on your YouTube channel and more than 15 million impressions of your brand name – all at “the most competitive cost-per-click you will find anywhere online.” You had driven over 2,200 visitors to your site from YouTube and you’d also seen a significant increase in subscribers across all your social media channels since you’d started using YouTube. Can you share the latest figures?

TO: “The latest figures are 450,000 views, over 42 million impressions, and 16,000 visits to the site. But this does not really show how much of a lift that it brings to all other channels. [Below is] a graph to kind of explain. The orange represents what we have done with Promoted Video. You can see that virtually all other channels also receive a lift. (Sorry to have to neutralize the info, we don’t want to give away all of our special sauce.)”


GJ: In that post last October, you said your revenue was up 48 percent. Your videos were viewed 94,000 times during a month alone. Overall traffic to was up 20 percent from the previous year. Can you share the latest results?

TO: “Unfortunately, we have had some real challenges with recent algorithm updates and having the organic rankings for our site bumped down in search. So, to get an accurate read on this would be difficult. I will say that we are confident that our video efforts have really cushioned us against the struggle we have had with our rankings. Diversifying our channels has really paid off in this case as our revenue growth is out performing 2010.”

GJ: What do you think of the latest changes to Promoted Videos? What do you think of YouTube’s move from a cost-per-click ad format to cost-per view?

TO: “I think it makes perfect sense. We really think about video differently than we do a text ad or a display ad. YouTube seems to recognize this difference and made this shift probably at a significant cost to them.”

Next, I spoke with Corey Vidal, whose production and consultation company is known as ApprenticeA Productions.

His video, “‘Star Wars (John Williams is the Man)’ a cappella tribute medley – Corey Vidal and Moosebutter” has close to 14.9 million views.

ApprenticeA’s channel on YouTube has more than 57.7 million total upload views and over 217,000 subscribers, making it the 15th “most-subscribed to” channel in Canada.

Vidal has also worked with a variety of companies and brands, including: Atlantic, Blendtec, Google, Intel, NBC Universal, Sanyo, Staples, Timberland, Toshiba, Warner Music Group, Wrigley, and YouTube.

He said, “Companies have seen successes like Old Spice, but they’ve also seen failures. And agencies want guarantees.” So, he uses Promoted Videos to help push up the views that a video gets in order to get the total views that companies and agencies expect.

Finally, I spoke by phone with Will Robinson, a founding partner of The New Media Firm, a political media consulting and advertising agency. Robinson has helped elect six governors, seven U.S. Senators, and dozens of members of the U.S. House. In addition, he has produced media for 26 referendum and initiative campaigns in 18 states and the District of Columbia.

The New Media Firm specializes in integrating traditional and new media for Democratic candidates and progressive organizations. For example, the agency produced a spot called “Respect” for the Women’s Voices, Women’s Vote Action Fund, an independent expenditure campaign in the 2010 Colorado U.S. Senate race.

The spot, which features two talking high heels, used animation to stand out in a sea of typical political ads. It recently won the Platinum “Remi” award for Best Animated TV Commercial at the WorldFest-Houston Independent International Film Festival.

Robinson said, “Getting the right message to the right voters at the lowest possible price is getting harder every year. Voters have more media choices than ever before and reaching these voters requires innovation, flexibility and ongoing assessment of what works and what doesn’t.”

He added, “I don’t believe in numbers that end in zero.” So, he appreciates the micro-targeting that YouTube’s advertising lets his boutique agency do for clients.

Robinson’s used Promoted Videos in an “iceberg buy” for campaigns in New Jersey, where the tip is a few TV ads broadcast from New York City and Philadelphia, but the bulk of the campaign uses targeted videos in specific New Jersey assembly districts.

And he said that he likes the fact that Promoted Videos will join YouTube’s TrueView family of ad formats because, “We don’t pay if a viewer doesn’t choose to watch our ad.”

Robinson concluded, “People aren’t watching the 11 o’clock news the way they were years ago. So, where else can we go to reach them?”

Social Media Solutions

If you’re going to SES San Francisco next week, I’ll be discussing Promoted Videos during the Social Media Solutions on a Budget session. Some marketers forget that YouTube is not only a video-sharing site, but also one of the most popular social media brands.

According to Compete, Facebook had 146.2 million unique visitors in June 2011 and YouTube had 128.7 million that month. By comparison, Twitter had 31.7 million unique visitors in June 2011 and LinkedIn had 21.2 million that month.

Now, you don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to be social media relevant. Getting your company or organization started with social media doesn’t have to be a pricey proposition. And YouTube Promoted Videos is one of the social media solutions that you’ll want to learn about.


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