The Anatomy Of The Perfect In-Stream Ad

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Understanding and Harnessing The Power of In-Stream Ads

Most advertisers turn to YouTube thinking it’s going to be just another ad platform…but after a few weeks of trial and error, they get fed up as they “aren’t seeing any results.”

What they don’t realize is that advertising on YouTube is totally different than Facebook, Adwords, Twitter, Linkedin, or any other ad network…that by expecting people to see your ad and CLICK on it, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

See, YouTube watchers came to the site for a reason; so regardless of how much they like your ad, they’re not likely to abandon their video to check out your site.  Instead, they usually open a new tab and Search for your product or business.

While this type of user behavior makes attribution challenging, it’s not the REAL problem for most new advertisers. The REAL problem is figuring out how to get viewers to watch past the skip button.

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If you want In-Stream (aka pre-roll) advertising to work for your business, you need to build ads that earn your audience’s attention…because before you can earn their money, you have to earn their time.

And that’s EXACTLY what we’re going to cover in this post.  

I’m going to share the 5 key components that make up the perfect In-Stream ad (what we call “the 5 Ps”)). We’ve used this recipe to implement successful YouTube acquisition strategies for more than 30 companies…and even help a startup raise its Series A solely off YouTube ads.

So enough chit-chat, let’s get to it.

The Anatomy Of The Perfect In-Stream Ad

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When it comes to business advice and tactics, you’re probably used to hearing the phrase “it depends.” What you really WANT is an exact step-by-step roadmap…but most situations depend on the internal mechanics of your business.

Well it’s your lucky day because this ISN’T one of those times…the recipe for creating an effective YouTube In-Stream ad is pretty cut and dry.  

There are five critical components to the perfect In-stream ad:

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#1. The Punch (First 5 seconds)

The punch is that small window before the All-Powerful “Skip” button shows up that you insert a “hook” to grab the audience’s attention.

This is THE PLACE most video ads fail because they don’t present any reason for the viewer to watch…they don’t have any PUNCH.  This isn’t television where you get a full 30 seconds to lead up to the big ending…you need to spark their interest NOW.

Knowing that performance under pressure can be tough, here’s a few techniques proven to get people’s attention and rope them into watching more:

  1. Did you know statistics – Great for teaching about unknown problems.
  2. Humor – Not funny haha, more often it’s dry (See Dollar Shave Club:
  3. Shock or Awe – (Great example:
  4. Calling Out Your Audience (Jake Larsen:

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#2. The Problem or Promise (Next 10-15 Seconds)

Once you’ve earned their attention with a good hook, it’s time to quickly and clearly show that you understand your audience by laying out the problem or promise you can help them with.

This section usually falls into two buckets:

  1. Hitting on an existing problem they’re experiencing or a desired result they already have in their head.
  2. Teaching them about a problem they didn’t know they had or a desired result they didn’t know was possible.

Dollar Shave Club did an amazing job with this by teaching people that $19 out of the $20 they were spending on razors went to Roger Federer:

And, Poo Pourri did a great job relating to the issue of not wanting to be embarrassed when you “drop a deuce” in a location other than your home:

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#3. The Proof (20-30 Seconds)

Now that you’ve connected with your audience over a problem or opportunity, it’s time to show that you’ve got some proof behind you…and that can be done in one of three ways:

  1. First, you could talk in general about your credentials that people in your audience will value….like being a published author, having a big business, or being featured on X, Y, Z site/podcast, etc.
  2. Second, you could talk in specifics about how you’ve helped other people just like them, the results they achieved, and include their pictures and testimonials.
  3. Or finally, you can talk about your own journey from where they are to where you are.

We’re big proponents of testing all three of these options (if possible) to figure out which message is resonates best with your market and the targeting options you’ve picked for your campaigns.

Orabrush even gave you a quick tutorial so YOU could generate the proof yourself:

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#4. The Product (15-20 Seconds)

This is where you introduce your offer…it may be an actual product, an ebook, a course, a phone call, or just your business…regardless of WHAT it is, it’s the answer to their solution.

There are three ways you want to tackle this part of the video:

  1. Introduce the NAME first (they are most likely going to SEARCH for it…but that’s another lesson).
  2. Mention the basics that most people need to know to be interested.
  3. Don’t oversell…present what you’ve got with confidence…if people are interested, they’ll come check it out.

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#5. The Prompt (5-10 Seconds)

Now that you’ve made your pitch, you need to give them a way to claim this offer

There are lots of ways to do this like using Annotations, Overlays, Cards, and Endscreens…but the key to getting more clicks is two fold:

  1. First, you need to use a CTA that works best for each device type (e.g. mobile and desktop are VERY different…unless you use endscreens!)
  2. Second, you need to make the user feels in control of the click experience…if they don’t, all your hard work will be for nothing as it will feel like a pop up ad is being forced upon them. Check out the video below so you can learn more about what I mean.

So there you have it, the 5 sections that make up the Perfect In-Stream ad….from these pieces, you should be able to create an ad that delivers a powerful punch at the beginning and builds excitement for what you’re offering in 90 seconds or less.

Just so you can see that those who teach also DO, check out the ad we put together that we’ll be running in a few months (you can opt-in now and we’ll send it to you when our course is complete):

We’ve followed our own formula to construct this ad…can you see all five parts?

Over To You

Are you excited to start recording your own In-Stream ads?

If you’d like some more help and examples we’ve got you covered! Simply click on the image below to download out free Unbeatable In-Stream Ad workbook below… no opt-in required.

Any questions so far? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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