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Online video ads for small businesses get the AdWords treatment on YouTube

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Tired of only seeing your ad on late-night cable between infomercials and reruns of Mr. Ed? Well, small businesses have a new way to advertise on video.

New video ads on YouTube are aimed at making the video platform more accessible and useful for small businesses. YouTube parent Google hopes to recreate the success its other advertising programs have had with small businesses. YouTube’s ads will now offer the same payment terms and targeting capabilities as Google’s AdWords. Ideally, that will mean getting your video ads in front of the people who are most interested in seeing them.

Google AdWords for video is a new advertising product on YouTube that takes its cue from Google’s text and banner ads. Specifically, advertisers are only charged when someone clicks on their ads, and advertisers will be able to target their ads to users who look for specific keywords on the site.

A hair salon, for instance, might bid to have its ad appear when people look for terms like “style,” “hairstyle,” “haircut,” or “fashion.” The stylist will be able to see how many people have viewed the ad, clicked through to their website, or looked at their YouTube channel.

As part of the program’s launch, YouTube has recruited nine small businesses to act as ambassadors. Among them are fashion brand ModCloth, toy firm Rokenbok, and grill vendor BBQ Guys. The companies engage with YouTubers in a variety of ways, and the site hopes that advertisers can learn from those who’ve already used YouTube successfully to grow their business.

This could be a good thing for YouTube’s content creators. If the keyword targeting is successful, ads should be more in tune with the viewer’s interests and that means it’s more likely that they’ll watch the whole thing.

It’s too early to tell yet if the initiative will unearth the next Chuck Testa. Done right, a video ad can bring an enormous amount of attention to a small business. However, small businesses may need to tread carefully—a badly acted ad can get you attention for all the wrong reasons.

Photo via YouTube