Given the staggering amount of content uploaded to YouTube every hour, how can brands stand out?
Enter YouTube channel subscribers. It’s no secret that celebrities, bands, and influencers take great care to grow their channels—it broadens their reach and expands their existing fan base.
Recently, we were tasked with a different kind of music campaign—could we run ads urging YouTube users to subscribe to a channel, rather than just view a video? Our client had recently developed “Los Proximos” a collaborative channel where several artists could post their material. The channel was a blank slate for us to grow.
How did we do it?
- Making sure we had reliable reporting set up. Google can track earned subscribers, but only if the YouTube channel is properly linked. We spent time ensuring that our reporting would be as accurate as possible before we used it to inform our optimizations. With the correct tracking in place, Google attributed over 28,380 new YouTube subscribers as well as 21,423 earned playlist additions and 28,613 earned likes.
- Finding the creative assets and ad types that converted best. We wanted to test how the response rate differed between TrueView Instream and Discovery ad types. Instream ads are the most common—they run before YouTube videos and are skippable after a few seconds. Discovery ads, on the other hand, bring users to the video watch page, giving them the chance to engage or subscribe. We uncovered that TrueView Discovery ads drove 96% of subscribers by the end of our first campaign.
On the creative side, we tested multiple copy versions asking users to subscribe and optimized towards which version was working better. Additionally, we tested several thumbnail images to find the most compelling solution when paired with the optimized copy.
- Doubling down on what was working. Not every targeting choice is going to be a success. When working with a non-traditional project, we had to be ruthless about which campaigns were pulling their weight and which were just along for the ride.
- Making call-to-actions work harder. Channel watermarks, companion banners, and call-to-action extensions all helped streamline our “subscribe now” message for no extra cost. Since this project wasn’t focused on driving views, reminding users of the action we wanted them to take was an effective way to drive subscriptions.
Finding the Right Recipe
After the first phase of our campaign, we took a deep dive into the data to figure out exactly what was working. We challenged ourselves to recreate our successes while giving our client a bigger bang for their buck. After analyzing key metrics, we created the perfect mix of audience and placement to maximize our returns.
Our optimizations brought the cost per subscriber down by nearly 40%, meaning we could do more with less.