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YouTube Advertising Campaigns: Ad Types, Benefits, & Examples

How do you use YouTube to elevate and grow your brand?

Today, I had the pleasure of delving deep into the heart of YouTube advertising with one of the top YouTube buyers in the world, Elsie Bernaiche. Let me tell you, this convo was nothing short of exhilarating. As we chatted away, Elsie shared some great information on how brands have used YouTube to elevate and grow their brand. 

Keep reading to check out expert tips and tricks you can use to elevate your brand with YouTube too!

Sherry Del Rizzo, Director of Marketing 

What is YouTube sponsorship? 

Hey there everyone, I'm Elsie Bernice, your go-to gal for all things YouTube at ADOPTER Media. First off, if you don’t already know – I love YouTube and I am stoked to share insights about the thrilling world YouTube advertising.

First up, let's talk about the essence of it all – YouTube! It's fantastic investment for brands looking to leverage subject matter experts and earn loyal customers, especially brands that focus on direct response campaigns and need to track impressions, web traffic, and sales conversions. YouTube offers all of this and more. But how do you get in, where do you start? You start with your band deal…aka sponsorships. Let’s dive in and walk through YouTube sponsorships and how they work to make your brand a fan favorite.

YouTube Ad Types 

YouTube offers a few different types of ads - the most recognizable is the skippable and non-skippable programmatic ads that appear at the beginning of most videos, that is, if you don’t pay for an adblocker or YouTube premium (if you’re one of those folks paying, please DM me, we need to talk).

YouTube sponsorships are preferred over YouTube AdSense because of a few key reasons:

  1. Not skippable - they’re embedded, or “baked-in” to the video on the creator’s channel, forever (in most cases).
  2. Not subject to the advertising restrictions of YouTube AdSense - YouTube sets tons of rules for brands using their programmatic ad platform, mainly any products like CBD, nicotine (or even in some cases nicotine-free vapes), and alcohol products may be unable to advertise. For brands like NED, and even Ryan Reynold’s brand Aviator Gin, advertising on YouTube would be challening if creator sponsorships weren’t available.
  3. Evergreenness - you pay a creator a flat fee (in most cases) and the video stays up on YouTube forever. With other types of advertising, because you pay per click or per impression, the second you turn off your budget spend, your ad stops appearing, or displaying, to YouTube users online. It’s like it never even existed…
  4. SEO - YouTube is the biggest search engine in the world behind Google. YouTube's search ranking system sorts through over 500 hours of content uploaded every minute to find the most relevant results for a query. That’s why if you’re, let’s say, a razor brand, it might be a great move to sponsor a video titled “How To Get The Best Shave Of Your Life”, or if you’re a honey brand, sponsoring “What soothes a sore throat the quickest?” could prove to be a video that gets thousands of views every winter for years to come.

Okay, so you’re sold on the concept. But how do you get a brand deal? 

How to Sponsor a YouTuber

Create your brief 

Approximately 90% of creators are going to ask what they’re signing on to promote before they accept the deal. You need to outline what you want them to say about your product, what exactly they would need to DO in the video, and what the offer will be to their viewers.

It’s a bit more nuanced than that. Here’s a list of things to consider:

  • Separate your brief into “suggested talking points” and allow the creator to pick which values of your brand and product/service they feel aligned with the most. The goal is for them to make the most authentic video possible so that their audience trusts your product. It wouldn’t be smart to make a monster truck enthusiast YouTuber talk about the ethical sourcing of textiles of your t-shirt company, for example… now, saying the material is stain-resistant, on the other hand, that’s a winner 😉
  • If there are things the creator absolutely should NOT do or say, highlight that in red and specify “READ BEFORE FILMING”. You’d be surprised - or actually, maybe not all that surprised - at how often creators do not read the requirements thoroughly enough! They ARE creative spirits, after all, so make it as easy as possible for them to be successful.
  • Make sure the offer is better than - or at least equal to - what a customer can get on your website direct. Nothing makes a creator lose face with their audiences more than when they recommend your product, and the customer takes the beloved creator code to use on the site and finds a better deal somewhere else on your page. They feel like the creator tried to rip them off, and it hurts more than just the sale, it hurts the creator. They often request a special deal for their audience that no one else is getting, and trust me, it’s worth it.

Example 1

ADOPTER Media has partnered with Linda Vater at Manukora and given her a special added gift for her audiences that isn’t available to any other creator or anywhere else on their site or across other marketing efforts. Linda has therefore been promoting it not just on her YouTube videos as a great gift idea, stocking stuffer, Valentine’s Day treat, etc.– but she will also put it in her newsletter under “irresistible deals and steals”. SHE believes in the value of the brand and has put in extra effort into promoting the special extra gift and as a result, she’s been the #1 partner to the brand in 2023!

YouTuber Brand Deals 

Find your creator and understand how much do brand deals pay.

This is really a lot easier than it seems if you have the right tools and relationships. There are over 114 million ACTIVE YouTube channels at your disposal but only approximately 10,000 of those channels will be the right fit for your brand. To set yourself up for success, consider the following:

Channel Size

The subscriber count isn’t as relevant as most people would like to think. Mr. Beast earns more than 50% of his views from NON-SUBSCRIBED audiences, so the 218M subs you’re seeing don’t really reflect who is actually watching his channel.

Focus on the Views

Focus on The Views

The larger the channel, the higher the rate. This is how pricing works in general on YouTube:

  • 5000-15,000 views - CPMs will be the highest because even small, niche creators won’t work for less than $500. Expect $50-$100 CPMs but a small total price, between $500-$1500.
  • 15,000-50,000 views - CPMs should start to level out, a $30-$50 CPM depending on content and audience type (more on that below)
  • 50,000-250,000 views - regardless of audience and content, this is where channels start to get expensive, and creators know that. A $25 CPM is the average, some may offer a little higher or lower.
  • 250,000-750,000 views - it’s almost impossible for brands to convert even at really low CPMs, so expect $10-$15.
  • 750,000+ views - these are the ELITE YouTubers. They’re running TV show- quality content and they have production teams supporting them behind the camera. They run LESS videos (1x a month, as opposed to smaller YouTubers who do 1-2x a week, or even daily videos), so they can charge a premium for what amounts to be only 12 videos for the entire year. You’re paying for their persona, their production quality, of course, their loyal audience. I’ve seen rates from $50,000-$85,000 for this category of YouTuber.

Honestly, if you’re thinking of working with a channel in this category, contact our ADOPTER Media team. It is very likely we can get you a better deal with that person or recommend a smaller starting point to scale up to a big move like this!

Make connections!

You will find several fantastic independent creators who do it all themselves. But more than 90% of high-quality partnerships seek management. Go to LinkedIn and connect with 10-20 YouTube talent agencies, and you’ll be set for a while. They do a lot of legwork in picking out which channels want to work with your brand, fit your promo requirements, etc.

A few extra tips before we move on to the main portion: the deal making, content making, and money making.

Do NOT search YouTube itself for potential creators. YouTube’s goal is to find content most related to your search keywords. 

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

If I’m a brand looking to partner with creators, this search does not generate the data I need! The top videos are 7-9 years old. The channels themselves are branded channels (Gillette in this case), not an influencer or organic content creator.

If you scroll down or use Shorts you will not that many creators are inactive, or the views of the video you struck on in your search do not reflect the size of the channel.

Exhibit B

Be wary of platforms. There are TONS of platforms: CreatorIQ, HypeAuditor, Social Blade, etc. Platforms charge based on how many searches you run, or how many creators you book, impacting your campaign scalability from the beginning. The data pulled by these platforms is a good starting point, but you will develop more success by building relationships with real people every single time.

If you don’t have the capacity to book out your budget and have 100% confidence in each creator you partner with, work with a media agency that has the experience, relationships, and expertise…  like ADOPTER. We have perfected the process, and we only make our fee when your brand is happy. It keeps us honest.

Negotiate the deal

  • You have created your brief, found the perfect creator to partner with and have made all the right connections. Creators assess their fee based on the following criteria:
  • Do you want exclusivity? Are you going to block them from partnering with other razor brands if they work with you?
  • Do you want the ability to “own” the video and use it however you like, NOT just on their YouTube channel?
  • Are you requiring a dedicated video or are you okay with an integration? Most creators won’t even DO a dedicated video. This type of video means the entire video is about your brand - you control the topic, the length, the format, etc. from start to finish. Most dedicated videos deviate from the creator’s typical content, although we have had some creators who have dedicated their videos to a brand because they genuinely felt it was the perfect fit!

Example 2

MissFitAndNerdy creator Marisa loved the concept of Neurohacker’s anti-aging product: Qualia Senolytic. They take a similar approach with their formulations to many things she speaks about on her channel regularly. This passion resulted in a six-minute in-depth discussion of the science behind Neurohacker’s formula. Neurohacker did not require this, Marisa WANTED to do it. When a creator connects with a brand it is magical for everyone, especially your customers.

How to Reduce Aging, Live Longer, & Stay Young Forever

Keep in mind that dedicated videos will be assessed, in general, at a premium cost ($100 CPM+). It’s almost ALWAYS better to do the integration because the audience isn’t really watching the video for YOU, the brand - they’re there to support their favorite creator, and at a maximum, they’re incentivized to buy your product because 1) they know sponsorships make their creator money 2) the product is actually relevant to them and 3) you’re hitting them at the perfect time with a good enough deal that they’ll buy.

It is also good to note that the duration of viewer attention you are nab for your brand, matters. Analytics for YouTube show views fall off on creator content when integrations go on too long. Audiences get bored and skip to the next video, with only 50% of viewers staying tuned in until the end.

When connecting with your creator ask for some stats about their channel, like watch times, demos, etc. This helps you better understand who is really going to see your integration. If your product is only available in the US and Canada, working with a creator who has a majority UK and Australia audience won’t be the most successful. Similarly, if the creator is charging a higher CPM, you can weigh the risk of booking that rate by checking out their watch times.

If a creator can prove 95% of their audience watches the entire video, and 80% of views on their videos come from their already-subscribed followers, you have an EXTREMELY loyal audience, and it’s probably worth it.

Lastly, put together a calculation on views. If you’re paying $5000 for 250,000 views at a $20 CPM, you’ll want to know how long it will take to actually get those 250,000 views. Running an average views calculation on videos isn’t the most accurate, because a video 6 months old at 316,000 views doesn’t really tell you whether they got to 250,000 3 months ago or 3 days ago. The best is to track the most recent 4 videos on a creator’s channel for a month or so and track the views GROWTH.

Again, working with a media agency can save you a lot of time and risk – the analytic team at ADOPTER has a roster of yearly views for a ton of channels.

Content and Tracking

Yay! You’ve closed the deal! You will likely find the next few steps are easy and fun! 

We always suggest making a quick call with the talent or their agent to walk through your product/service, this helps generate creator engagement while also making sure they can record things once without having to make edits due to mistakes or misinformation.

And don’t forget to ask for a draft! With other types of advertising, you don’t get the privilege of seeing it before it goes live, but YouTube requires the creator to upload their final video, so it’s not an extra step for you to get draft approval. Look for anything they absolutely should NOT do or say and if needed send over one round of edits. Generally, most brands will not ask for a second round of corrections because it is expensive, time consuming, and can be demotivating for creators to redo shoots for a segment of their video that realistically is 60-90 seconds long.

It is also important that you ensure creators go live with your link and provide FTC disclosure ABOVE THE FOLD. If you notice high mobile views, ask for a pinned comment too!  You can see here that the “fold” is the little section of the video description before the drop-down “...more”. You ideally want your product link to be clickable, and if a potential customer must do extra work like click here and then click you likely will see a low click thru rate and less sales.

Below the Fold

FTC disclosure 

FTC disclosure is an important one - even though advertising rules work differently for creators, they are legally required to disclose if they’re being paid to promote your product. A simple #partner #ad can suffice, but I like too “own” it. Yes, this is in fact a paid relationship! Yes, our brand likes paying awesome YouTubers to make awesome content in exchange for a little face time!

It is ok to acknowledge when something is a sponsorship it is after all, one of our most ancient global traditions! The rich Greeks sponsored the Olympics, the rich Romans paid for the Gladiator games, and Maxwell House coffee paid for I Love Lucy to be a TV program during the age of the first TV networks.

I always ask the creator to thank the brand for the sponsorship. Positive vibes work wonders.

For tracking, make sure you provide the creator a link and a code. The URL should direct audiences to the product on your site, discount already CLEARLY applied, ready to check-out. Again, keep it simple and fast, more click steps generally equals less sales or engagement.

As a back-up, if the audience chooses not to buy RIGHT NOW, or they’re watching YouTube on a TV, they won’t be able to click. They’ll likely go to yourbrand.com and they’ll keep the creator code handy to enter in at checkout.

Enjoy Success! 

Now, sit back and watch the views, comments, and sales come through! If you’ve done your first sponsorship and you didn’t see such good results, DM me and I will help figure out what went wrong!

At ADOPTER Media, our approach is all about understanding your brand story, capitalizing on visual storytelling, and strategically partnering with YouTube talents to unlock the full potential of this dynamic advertising platform. As the podcast and YouTube landscape continues to evolve, we're right here at the forefront, guiding brands towards impactful and resonant advertising strategies.

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Elsie Bernaiche

Elsie Bernaiche is the VP of Partnerships for ADOPTER Media. One of the top YouTube buyers in the world, she also has additional expertise in branding, DTC growth & performance-based strategies.

Fun fact: Elsie holds hold the career defensive plays (digs) for her university team (Brandeis University). She is still 200+ digs from the next person with records going back to 1989.

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