What You Need to Know About YouTube Brand Lift Studies

Video advertising has been a buzzword for a while now, and you may or may not have given it a shot yet. Maybe you’ve been advertising on YouTube for awhile and need some tips for how to improve, or maybe you want to try video ads but you’re short on resources and could use help from a YouTube Director, or maybe you’re looking to reach users beyond YouTube.

In my experience, measuring the effectiveness and value of video advertising can feel a little tricky and vague as it’s often best used as a brand awareness effort rather than lead generation. If you’ve been hesitant to try video advertising, a YouTube Brand Lift Study is a helpful way to run a short test, evaluate some valuable insights from your Google team and refine your strategy to help improve results and better leverage this platform.

What is a Brand Lift Study?

According to Google, the goal of a Brand Lift Study is to provide more than just the basic metrics of how audiences respond to videos:

“…the effectiveness of an ad campaign is also evaluated by how it affects brand metrics. Brand Lift is a measurement of the direct impact your YouTube ads are having on perceptions and behaviors throughout the consumer journey. Within a matter of days, Brand Lift gives you insights into how your ads are impacting the metrics that matter, including lifts in brand awareness, ad recall, consideration, favorability, purchase intent, and brand interest, as measured by organic search activity.”

How a Brand Lift Study Works

Google will utilize two groups of users who fall into your campaign target audience for the study, a “control” group that hasn’t seen your ad and an “exposed” group that has.

Then, they’ll use two forms of user feedback to help measure results: surveys and organic searches. For the consumer surveys, you choose from a list of five questions based on what you want to measure with your study; each question falls into one of five categories: ad recall, brand awareness, consideration, favorability and purchase intent. You also provide three competitors that will be included with your brand name in the survey questions.

For the organic searches piece, Google simply compares the organic search behavior of the control and exposed groups to see the frequency at which users are searching for your brand on both Google search and YouTube.

It’s important to note that since feedback is dependent on user engagement, the results of the study aren’t guaranteed.

Getting Started with a Brand Lift Study

You can reach out to your Google rep to let them know you’re interested in launching a study and they’ll walk you through the process. Here are some requirements and recommendations:

  • Minimum spend for the first seven days is based on how many questions you want to include in the user surveys, with a minimum of $3,500 for one question and $56,000 for five questions.
  • Minimum runtime is one week; recommended runtime is at least two weeks. You can decrease your spend after the first week if you choose to keep it running.
  • You can have just one creative and video, but at least two variants are recommended; the study is able to show varying results and impact for different creatives so you should launch multiple variants for more actionable insights.
  • Choose focused audience targeting as you would for any other GDN campaign to help ensure the most relevant users are seeing your ads.

Our Brand Lift Study Results

For our test, we went with the $7k minimum spend for two survey questions, Brand Awareness and Consideration. We ran our campaign for two weeks. We launched multiple videos for testing, and we used a combination of in-market, topic, keyword and similar audience targeting most relevant to our client’s service.

Our study results showed a 40% lift in Brand Awareness overall. We were also able to see individual lift percentages for various categories like gender, age, and device, as well as for ad impression exposure levels. One really valuable thing we were able to see was a chart of responses to our survey question from the exposed user group. Interestingly, the majority of users said they had never heard of our client’s brand or their competitors. Reasons for this could be many, but it helps us know that we need to continue testing our videos and messaging to more effectively draw users in and/or we need to adjust or further refine the audiences our campaign is targeting.

Unfortunately, we saw no lift in Consideration, which also tells us we could test different videos/messaging since the videos in our initial tests were heavily brand focused, or we could try to further refine our audience targeting. While this result was disappointing, it was also somewhat suspected, as video ads are generally more effective at generating Brand Awareness than conversions.

In Conclusion

Ultimately, we did find the Brand Lift study to be helpful in that it gave us a better sense of the effectiveness our ads had on Brand Awareness. If you have a client who’s interested in trying video ads, this can be a somewhat safer way to go about it, as you can provide statistical support for the effectiveness of a campaign. However, video ads are most effective at filling the top of the funnel, so it’s important that you understand their purpose in the lead capturing process before diving into this strategy.

Have you tried a Brand Lift Study? What were your results? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!