How Allianz Australia is hacking CTR on Youtube in-stream ads

Winston Ong~May 27, 2013 /SEO Blog
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Winston Ong

I'm a Sydney based SEO consultant and search marketer. I blog about unique SEO topics the main sites don't talk about, and like fiddling around with real world SEO experiments that shed light on the limits of Googlebot.
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Allianz, a large insurance company in Australia, is currently running its ‘Be OK’ ad campaign via Youtube standard in-stream ads.

Standard instream ads are non-skippable, 30 seconds long and appear before Youtube partner videos i.e. the single most annoying thing on Youtube, and accordingly the highest abandonment rate of any ad format on Youtube.

Allianz’ digital marketing guys had a pretty clever idea to ‘hack’ a high click through rate for their ads. I say ‘hack’, because I don’t necessarily believe their idea actually significantly achieved what their actual goal would be – conversions – rather, the whole things seems to be just a clever little bit of user behaviour engineering to make a particular metric (CTR) shoot up and look good on a campaign report. CTR alone, is not a good success indicator.

Here is a screenshot from the ad:

youtube standard instream ad

Notice what they did?

No?

Here’s a screenshot from an example instream Youtube Trueview ad:

youtube true view

Instream Trueview ad formats allow the user to skip the ad after 5 seconds if they don’t want to watch the whole thing (I think the only Trueview ads I’ve never skipped were movie trailers). To do this, the user just clicks the ‘Skip Ad >|’ button at the bottom right which enables after 5 seconds until the end of the ad.

See it now?

allianz instream ad be ok

 

This is not a skip ad button:

allianz be ok

But this is:

skip ad button

 

They just look similar.

Genius right? People hate watching corporate ads so much they’ll instinctively click on anything that might spare them an extra 15 seconds of boredom. Time is way slower on the internet too, by the way, so a boring 30 second is an eternity for someone wanting to watch a 47 second video of a cat sitting in a cardboard box.

Instead of abandoning the video by clicking the browser ‘back’ button, or a related sidebar video, Allianz is tricking viewers to click through to their landing page, thus decreasing their nominal abandonment rate.

Is this a good thing? Not really, because they’re just capturing a lot of people who wanted to skip their ad and have no interest in buying car insurance.

And given how clever their ad was, I was expecting to find something equally creative to capture my interest along their conversion funnel as a landing page. In fact, the landing page has to be even more engaging and clever given the context of those visits to the page.

Was that the case?

allianze be ok campaign

Unfortunately not.

I understand the need for a user acceptance disclaimer, but they should have added another conversion funnel layer before this page. A disclaimer lightbox with a huge wall of legalese text is a guaranteed way to kill your conversion funnel in the context of tricking people to click through your ad.

My initial thoughts were that this setup was deliberately taking advantage of the non-skippable in stream ad format, for example, not having to pay for the ad impression if the user does not watch the full video, plus getting a impression of their landing page for free. However, I went back to the instream ad specs which confirmed what I initially new about the format:

In-stream ads are sold on a CPM basis.

So there is really no tangible benefit to the advertiser for this trick – the cost for these ads is the same regardless of low or high CTR, ignoring final CPA rates.

 

 

 

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  1. You seem to be a little misinformed there mate. The BeOK button simply jumped to a later part of the clip that showed the damage in reverse. To demonstrate the benefit of being insured by Allianz.

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