You’ve got five seconds: capturing your audience before they skip

In a skippable world, how do you capture a viewer's attention in those first five seconds of your YouTube ad? Read our tips to keep your audience engaged.

A few years ago, Google asked the question in one post, “Is it time to start creating ads with the ‘skip’ button in mind?”

The simple answer to that is yes.

Recently, YouTube introduced a change to TrueView ads called TrueView for Reach, designed to benefit both the advertiser and consumer experience. The update comes with YouTube’s announcement in the last year to abandon 30-second unskippable ads to improve user experience on the platform.

What does this mean for advertisers?

TrueView for Reach is good news for advertisers because it’s cost-effective using CPM (cost per thousand impressions) and according to YouTube, can offer 95 percent viewability rates. The option, along with other TrueView formats, is skippable after five seconds.

While this TrueView option is beneficial to increase ad recall, it also means that brands should continue to focus efforts on creating engaging content that viewers won’t want to skip. With some TrueView formats, advertisers pay when viewers watch at least 30 seconds, the entire ad or click anywhere on the creative. With TrueView for Reach, advertisers will pay even if viewers skip.

Capturing the “skip generation”

YouTube remains a popular platform among millennials, but last year, one survey found that 59 percent of millenials watch ads until they can skip. The attention span of today’s viewers is far less than it was 20 years ago and now brands on YouTube only have a small window to engage and retain their audience.

To create unskippable content, brands must:

  • Set the tone immediately. A key reason most people skip is because of uninteresting content. If the content is not relevant or interesting, viewers skip immediately. Emotion and humor keep people interested. Why do you think Superbowl commercials pull at the heartstrings or make people laugh? It keeps viewers engaged and watching longer, thus promoting better ad recall. Incorporating emotion in those first few seconds improves the chances that your viewers will keep watching.
  • Make a point as soon as possible. You have five seconds to get your message out. Explain the problem and promise a solution, but in a captivating manner. Then continue to tell your story. Conveying your message quickly does two things: it increases brand recall even if viewers skip, or it draws viewers in to watch longer.
  • Think about brand placement. There is a debate about where brands should place their logo in an ad. Do you focus on telling a story to captivate viewers or place a logo in the beginning for better ad recall (knowing that your audience might skip anyway)? Google Insights suggests that brands choosing to show their logo in those first few seconds should tie it to the product rather than free-float it on the ad.
  • Remember this is YouTube, not television. YouTube ads are a whole different game from television. People watch TV commercials passively. They don’t have that readily available skip button at their fingertips to tap. People are viewing YouTube on their phones, tablets or laptops. They’re typically on-the-go and ready to interact, share, like or comment. Get creative with your video and incorporate interacting elements that play into the user experience.
  • Reach the right people at the right time. People want content that is meaningful to them. Your creative might be great and you might be telling an intriguing story, but if your ads aren’t getting in front of the right viewers at the right time, you can count on more skips and less engagement. A solution like Strike Social’s YouTube marketing software helps discover and target relevant audiences to make sure the right people are seeing your ads.

Keeping all of this mind, YouTube remains a popular platform over primetime television, but as mentioned above, advertising online is much different than your traditional TV commercial. The platform is lucrative for brands to raise awareness, but to combat the “skip generation,” it’s time to focus on those first five seconds to really hook viewers.


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