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How The YouTube Reserve Works And Why Advertisers Use It

In this article, Traffic Manager of newage. Denis Barabash will tell how to reserve advertising in digital and why to do it in 2022. He will also share the experience of our client Allo, for whom we have reserved impressions for Black Friday.

Allo is one of the leaders in Ukrainian retail. Before Black Friday, they wanted to reach the maximum number of users who make purchases at a discount. The campaign aimed to increase brand awareness and inform existing and potential customers about the Black Friday sale.

It should be recalled that on the eve of Black Friday, the auction between advertisers for advertising spots is not like Sotheby’s at all; it’s more like a school canteen during a 5-minute break when everyone is trying to buy a fresh-baked bun. In such conditions of overheated auctions and increased advertiser competition, we need to ensure exposure, reach and performance. We found a solution – booking an impression.

What is a reserve in digital advertising

Reserve in digital advertising is a way of purchasing advertising, in which the advertiser (either the agency or himself) agrees in advance with the venue on the placement of advertising.

The main advantage of reserved placements is the ability to bypass the auction. While competitors compete for the opportunity to show their ads in real-time, the reserved ad will run on a fixed CPM. The system will try to show ads as many times as planned at the stage of accepting the price. Moreover, the earlier you reserve a spot, the lower CPM will be – such an incentive for the long-term planning horizon.

This advantage has a downside as well. If the demand for the auction suddenly falls, your price will still be the same. You will not be able to pause or switch your campaign back to auction mode. But in the season of general discounts such a fall should not be expected.

The concept of the reserve is often associated with direct platforms. It seems that companies need to negotiate with local sites and to book at Google you need to be a multinational corporation like Facebook or Apple. But this is a prejudice.

We easily managed to reserve spots on YouTube on Black Friday for Allo, and we will be able to do the same for other clients. Now in beta, you can book directly through the Google Ads interface, and we, as Google Marketing Platform Partner, had a chance one of the first to test this feature.

What formats can be reserved in Google

There are several formats that can be reserved on YouTube.

  • In-Stream without the possibility of skipping. They appear before, after, or during video playback. Standard ads in this format should not normally exceed 15 seconds. However, videos of 10 minutes or more may display 20-second ads.
  • In-Stream with the possibility of skipping. They appear at the beginning of the video. According to the Help, the ads can last up to 6 minutes, and the “Skip” button appears at the fifth second.
  • Screensavers (Bumper). You can’t miss ads in this format. Their duration is 6 seconds.

The Help also mentions the Masthead format – a banner at the top of the main YouTube, which is displayed on desktops, phones and Smart TV. However, it can only be ordered through a Google sales representative, which can become the subject of a separate article.

The duration of the campaign for which the spots are reserved must be at least 24 hours. Moreover, it must end no later than 120 days after booking. That is, it will not be possible to reserve a campaign six months before the show, but 4 months before its finishes you can already choose a reservation.

Also now in the beta is available to switch auction coverage campaigns to backup. However, it is not possible to switch from the reserve to the auction, so weigh the decision well before launching advertising with this payment format.

Our Black Friday Advertising Promotion

So we decided to use reserved formats to promote in the discount season. As GMP partners, we have access to beta tools, so we didn’t even have to contact a Google sales representative to place an order.

The campaign started as usual:

  • divided the audience into cold, neutral and hot;
  • selected messages and formats for each segment;
  • connected the auditor and the dashboard of the Integrated Campaign Analysis.

In terms of formats, we used InStream with the ability to skip and 15-second InStream without the ability to skip. And then it’s time to collect insights about reserves in Google Ads.

  • The earlier you reserve, the lower the cost per 1000 impressions.
  • Adding or removing any parameter and target affects your cost. Fun observation – by changing any random setting before saving the campaign, you could get a price both higher than the previous one and lower.

Result

As expected, the price of advertising was rising during Black Friday. The cost of accommodation for our clients in the PP period compared to the previous week:

  • CRM and CPV increased by 10-20%;
  • the cost of full inspection increased by 15-30%.

And the bigger the campaign budget, the more noticeable the difference between the price before Black Friday and the usual one. The reserve allowed to keep the price at the same level.

Comparing Allo’s backup campaign with the flute the client gave a week before the event, we saw the following results:

Overall, transactions increased by 208% with a decrease in SPA by 30%. However, it should be noted that the activity and loyalty of users to shopping during Black Friday is higher than in other seasons.

As a result, we covered all the available target audience that we planned. We also learned how to work with the reserve in two formats. If we launched ads with a video with the possibility of skipping the auction instead of the reserve, we could save the budget, because there is a CPM, as shown by the analysis of neighboring campaigns below. But with the video without the possibility of skipping, we won by launching it through the reserve campaign.

Conclusion: pros and cons of using the reserve on YouTube

Pros  

  1. Using reserved formats, you can get a guaranteed and a predictable number of impressions. Accordingly, the media effect of the advertising campaign is easier to predict and control.
  2. The cost of showing ads during the reservation is fixed. No matter how much the auction price increases, the advertiser will spend the planned funds on the planned number of impressions.

Cons

  1. CPM is basically higher than the current auction price.
  2. The price is affected by absolutely all settings, and so far the impact is difficult to predict.
  3. If, for some reason, the cost of showing at auction falls, there will be no saving.
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