YouTube today introduced a new shoppable ad format, as well as a function that lets marketers place interactive ads on high-traffic areas like the home page.

“Prolonged store closures have forced brands around the world to recalibrate their media campaigns to focus on driving online sales,” Nicky Rettke, YouTube’s director of product management, wrote in an official blog post. “As businesses begin to reopen, they have an opportunity to use video to drive both online and offline actions on YouTube, where 70% of people say they bought a brand as a result of seeing it on our platform.”

The new format lets marketers stock a ‘Shop Now’ section, which appears below their ad as it’s playing and offers a browsable selection of products with prices and buy links. YouTube tested this format in the spring with clothing brand Aerie; during the test, the company saw a 25% higher return on its ad spend, and nine times more ad viewer-to-paying customer conversions, Rettke wrote. Shoppable ads are intended “to help businesses establish a stronger ecommerce presence,” she added.

Brands that want to use the format must connect their Google Merchant Center, where they can choose which products will appear to viewers.

‘Video action campaigns’ let marketers place ads on YouTube’s home page

YouTube also unveiled video action campaigns, which Rettke said “automatically brings video ads that drive action to the YouTube home feed, watch pages, and Google video partners,” as well as “any future inventory that becomes available, like the What to Watch Next feed.”

All those locations are considered part of one bundled campaign, which means marketers can ostensibly connect to more viewers without paying à la carte to place ads in each individual location. (As Social Media Today points out, video action campaigns are intended to be far-reaching, but as a trade-off, they may not have as many targeting options as other kinds of YouTube ads.)

Like it did with the shoppable ad format and Aerie, YouTube tested video action campaigns earlier this year with Mos, a startup that helps college students fund their schooling through financial aid. Using the placement, Mos saw 30% more purchases than usual for a third of the ad spend, Rettke said.

In her post, Rettke also recommended advertisers consider using lead forms, a function YouTube rolled out back in 2018. Lead forms appear below a marketer’s ads and ask viewers to share information about themselves. The real-world example YouTube gives is a form offering test drives below an ad for a new Jeep.

It’s worth noting that YouTube is pushing lead forms at the same time as the new shoppable format, because both of these are considered direct-response ads–meaning they call for a viewer to complete some kind of action. The fact that YouTube is developing more ad offerings in this area isn’t surprising, because back in March, when COVID-19 was tanking digital ad sales, the platform still saw “substantial” growth in direct-response ads.

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