How Your Business Can Survive The Ad Blocking Wars On YouTube

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Content Marketing

If you are promoting your company with video ads on YouTube, a portion of your targeted audience may be missing the message due to ad blocking software.

Ad blocking is growing worldwide. On desktop, increasing numbers of users are blocking ads via browser plugins. On mobile, Apple’s iOS last year began permitting the use of ad-blocking apps. And on Google’s Android operating system, ad-blocking browsers have been around for a while.

Ad Blocking Early Adopters, Young, Tech-Savvy

As with many tech trends, ad-blocking’s early adopters are generally younger or more tech-savvy users who are generally more interested in tech-related content. But ad blocking is increasing across all age groups.

Why are users blocking ads? Overall, people are primarily using ad blockers due to a concern over misuse of their personal information. By blocking ads, they feel less of their data and habits will be revealed if they use ad blockers. Edward Snowden is one of the big advocates of this rationale.

In addition, for millennials, they’re simply overwhelmed by seeing too many ads – they’re just looking for a more fluid online experience.

Ad Blocking Growing At Nearly 50% Annually

According to the 2015 Ad Blocking Report PageFair and Adobe, usage of ad blockers in the United States grew by 48% over the previous year, increasing to 45 million average monthly active users.

2015 Ad Blocking Report by PageFair and Adobe

In addition to squelching banners and other types of image and tech ads, ad blocking software can also block YouTube pre-roll ads.

The 2015 report covered mostly desktop usage, but PageFair and Adobe followed up with a mobile report this year. Things don’t yet appear to be so dire for US mobile advertisers – most of the global growth for mobile ad blocking so far is in Asia. And while Apple has allowed ad blocking apps on iOS, the low US-adoption currently still has just a minor effect on YouTube, where roughly half of all YouTube views take place. On the Internet, however, change can always happen very quickly. So how do you stay prepared?

2016 Mobile Ad Blocking Repot by PageFair and Adobe

Be Prepared For Ad Block-Ageddon

You may only be using YouTube for paid media. But that should be only one piece of the puzzle. Even YouTube itself says so.

YouTube only makes money from businesses through advertising. And yet it also advocates that businesses do more than just advertise on their channel – it suggests you create content that doesn’t just promote yourself, but video that helps your potential customers solve their problems.

YouTube suggests you have a “Hero, Hub, Help” strategy. “Heroes” are the big tent-pole promotions and events (your high-budget ad spend). “Hub” refers to content for your brand’s biggest fans to engage on a regular basis, like branded web series. And Help is content that brings in people who are searching on Google and YouTube for how to do things. This may be called the “YouTube content marketing customer journey.”

This is a balanced approach for any company, but particularly those who have tech-related business.

YouTube “Help Content” Best Practices

Here’s what YouTube recommends for bringing in new subscribers to your channel. Remember, YouTube makes absolutely no money if you follow these recommendations – they only make money from businesses by selling ads – but they’re recommending it because these are key to success on YouTube.

  • Use Google or YouTube Trends to determine high-volume searches in your targeted category.
  • Create a help video that clearly and simply addresses a specific high-volume search query.
  • Establish why the brand should be the one to answer the query, but keep the sales pitch to a minimum.
  • Include branding and packaging sequences, if necessary, but only later in the video. Once you’ve answered the query, include an invitation to subscribe. Give good reasons: “We create videos like this every week.”
  • You’ve captured your viewers’ intent, and you’re answering their queries. But how do you get a one-time viewer to return? It’s time to drive viewers to your “hub”

Content Marketing For Video

YouTube’s “help content” is also known as content marketing, and many businesses have adopted it as a fundamental approach for bringing in new business via their own company blogs. In short, this demand generation strategy brings people into your world by providing your expertise to the wider web. The customer discovers you through search, then begins to know, like, and trust them because you have given them value.

And this method, which involves very little overt selling or pitching, works just as well on YouTube as it does on blogs, with some variations on the theme. Of course, it’s initially hard to get your head around the idea of not selling on YouTube, but some top brands are adopting the approach. For instance, B&H Photo Video, a popular e-commerce channel that sells all kinds of tech products, has a YouTube channel filled with many content marketing videos. One example is this a nearly two-hour presentation on photography by a noted photographer, that was viewed more than 8,000 times in the first week it was uploaded. This was not a sales video, rather it was free training for people who wanted to learn about photography.

Over time, the new audience will begin to know, like, and trust B&H, and will visit their website when making a buying decision.

CPG How-To Videos

CPG brands are starting to do this, too, such as Gillette with their “how to shave” series. You’ll notice that in this video “How to Grow a Beard and Maintain It | Gillette Styler”, the viewer is told they need “a tool that can trim, shave, and define like the Gillette Styler” (but not their tool, specifically). This is a recommendation embedded into a helpful how-to video, not a hard sell.

So, how are you going to win the ad blocking wars on YouTube? With great, helpful videos that improve your customers’ lives or makes it easier for them to do their job more skillfully. Sure, you can sell to your customers. But first help them, and you will earn their loyalty and trust.

Then, if they do become one of the ad blockers, they will seek out your videos, instead of trying to block them.