YouTube’s advertising options are considerably more comprehensive than those available in traditional media. With marketing decisions on the platform including pre-roll or mid-roll, videos or banners, ads or branded entertainment and god-only-knows-what-else, it would be a waste to produce generic content and post it there without first considering its wealth of options. In an effort to maximize the potential reach of a campaign that includes YouTube, brands and advertisers using the platform should produce content thats tailor-made for the medium.

All the choices available for YouTube advertising campaigns make for far more creative leeway than we see with the typical 15-second tv ad. And if your brand paid big bucks for a presence on YouTube and all you got was TV-esque pre-roll ads with no accompanying media, you probably didn’t get your money’s worth of creative opportunity.

Geico released an ad this week that captivates what I mean in perfect simplicity. Take a look:

Will Burns, CEO of the unconventional idea-generating ad agency Ideasicle, joked that the creative brief for this ad must have looked something like this:

“CHALLENGE: see if you can communicate the GEICO message in five seconds AND get people to watch longer than that.”

Another excellent example of a simple made-for-medium campaign on YouTube is this one for the job-seeker website Reed.

As you can tell, creative freedom is key especially for brands whose messaging is traditionally boring (like insurance companies and job-seeking services).

Don’t get us wrong: made-for-youtube doesn’t mean that brands have to specifically joke about the fact that their ads are skippable pre-rolls or have CTA buttons, like Geico’s & Reed’s did. There are obviously thousands of successful campaigns that haven’t done that. But here’s the universally applicable translation of that lesson: your ads MUST grip the viewer within the first five seconds and shouldn’t be shameless plugs that are easily ignored (and skipped).

Beyond that, your campaign will ideally take advantage of one of the many other forms of YouTube advertising, like brand integrations with YouTube’s native stars or an entire ecosystem of made-for-medium branded entertainment with display and video ads that lead to branded YouTube channels. Ignore all of those, and the only thing that’ll stand out about your campaign is the “Skip Ad” button.

So where should you go from there? Start by creating a more granular marketing budget. Make sure that YouTube and even the specific type of ads or integration styles you plan to use are listed in that budget, and that KPI goals are set from the bottom up. That way, both you and the team allocating your budget will understand the true value (and eventually the ROI) of creating content — or at least modifying content — to work specifically for its destined medium.

YouTube Advertising and How Some Companies Fail Hard

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