What makes people NOT skip YouTube ads?

Did you know that 59% millennials skip ads on YouTube? [Source] But dig deeper, and you realize why the ‘Skip Ad’ feature leads to better engagement. A report from Google and Ipsos says that ‘un-skipped’ ads on YouTube have  84% higher engagement than television. It’s far less contradictory than it sounds. When viewers do not skip ads, it means they have chosen to watch it, they want to pay attention. The key is to make your ad as irresistible as possible.

What makes the most irresistible YouTube ads?

ThinkWithGoogle in its YouTube analysis report has stressed that “viewers who do not skip your ad are 10X more likely to share content, subscribe to your brand channel, and/or engage with your brand.So not skipping counts, big time. We studied tonnes of YouTube ads to create a list of common factors that made them unskippable. Here’s what we observed-

Weird or emotional gets them hooked

A viewer has clicked on a video of her choice and she sees your ad as a clear hurdle between the great spectacle she has been waiting to watch. As a result, your competition is not your industry competitor but that particular video that’s related to the viewer’s specific interest. Beat that! Show your viewer that would pique her general curious bone. Weird usually gets the attention the quickest. This followed by an emotion as a tool to touch chords. This always works! We realized that the ads that we didn’t skip just ticked our curious bone or moved us emotionally. Take some ‘weird’ inspiration from Mountain Dew’s Freak Chain commercial that captured YouTube’s viewers.

Acknowledgement of the ‘skip’ button

There were some ads that blatantly challenged the viewer to ‘Go ahead, skip this ad’. This may sound obvious but it has worked for one simple reason: you take the viewers by surprise by predicting exactly what she is going to do. This throws them slightly off guard and you are able to serve your agenda. However, there’s a caveat: if the rest of the ad is not interesting enough, you are back to square one. You need to ensure that the entire ad justifies ‘not skipping’ by adding oodles of humour or emotion. Here’s what Nail Communications did famously in this irresistible YouTube ad.

Acknowledgement of the ‘skip’ button

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

Humour is unbeatable

Okay we aren’t saying that, Google is. A 2015 study conducted by Google and published on ThinkWithGoogle said that humour played a key role in the most unskippable ads across any industry. The report specifically quoted ‘Dumb ways to die’ ad series by Geico. On one hand, you will think why an insurance company would make fun of something like dying. On the hindsight, it does make sense. The company used ‘dying’ as a way to insert the message that you need life/car insurance. Similarly, you would invariably remember ‘Our blades are f***** great’ created by the Dollar Shave Club that got us all of our attention. You may be a B2C or a B2B company,  but you can always find a way to insert humour into your YouTube ad.

How can you make your ad irresistible?

As my team and I were studying various YouTube ads,  we also got a hang of how such ads should be created. The ThinkWithGoogle report also offered similar insights that we matched with what we had learnt from studying these ads.

# 1 Create ads like a creator, not an advertiser

Go back to the basics. Recall why YouTube was created.To stream videos free of cost. Recall who was creating content on YouTube. Independent viewers and users. Now recall what makes these videos authentic that people want to watch them. They showcase real life or day-to-day insights, hacks or tips. If you incorporated even a few of these elements, your ad would become unskippable. While it’s important that your brand tagline or logo should be prominently shown, it’s equally important that your content should speak to your viewers. Is there a cause that your viewers may be interested in? Is there a vital tip they want to hear or see? Is there a specific place that’s trending? If you set off to really find out what your viewers are looking for on YouTube, you will have the right ingredients for an unskippable YouTube ad such as how Special K created inFuel Your Resolution.

# 2 Choose music and humour carefully

Google stated in its report that even music that had humour was watched more than any other kind of music. We observed that a catchy musical composition coupled with some humour worked better in YouTube ads. Did you know Despacito by Luis Fonsi also featuring Daddy Yankee is currently the most viewed video on YouTube (over 5.7 billion views as of November 2024)? More interestingly, among the top 100 most viewed videos, only seven were non-music videos on YouTube. We have already said enough about making humour a part of your ad. Music and humour are the two most vital ingredients that should get easy attention to your ad. However, it’s vital to tread this ground carefully. Make sure you choose a video production company that’s experienced in creating mature video advertisements and has a deep understanding of YouTube music and humour. One of the greatest examples is the way Apple uses music and visuals and a slight dash of humour in itsiPhone- X ads.

# 3 Story-telling still matters

YouTube is visual story-telling. Every principle of telling stories applies and will always apply here. Your ad should have a story – of a person, people, place, country, product or even cat (cat videos are popular anyway). It’s no rocket science to figure out that even the most real-life videos shot on a mobile camera have a story to tell. Your ad should look, sound and feel like a story. Stories are easy to remember and share. Watch how LG used story-telling with compelling camera work in its20th anniversary ad series in India or the wayClash of Clans took viewers by surprise through its beautiful story.

 # 4 Use events, occasions extensively

Now this is a no-brainer. Among the YouTube’s best ad leaderboards over the years, ads that were themed around sporting events almost never failed to attract. What’s trending in the world matters to viewers – be it world cups, beauty pageants, release of a Superhero movie or launch of a life-changing product. A YouTube ad that’s centered around an important global or local event is more likely to pique the interest of the viewer compared to an ad that’s generic in nature. Occasions like Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas or presidential elections – all are relevant to people even when every advertiser might be using them. Take for instance the way Amazon used thestory of Alexa losing her voice during Super Bowl.

The whole point of this article is to show that it’s possible to create video ads that viewers don’t want to skip. Here are some solid reasons why good ads will sell –

  • YouTube viewers watch videos in leisure time. They are sitting before the screen to experience things visually.
  • These viewers are usually exploratory. They are open to new ideas and like surprises, good music, humour and new ideas.
  • Once their interest is piqued, they are more likely to appreciate what you are selling.

Happy creating!

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