Video Advertising: Results of 11 Split test YouTube campaigns

Justin Teoh Video Advertising

Let me ask you a question: have you ever SKIPPED a YouTube video advertising ad before? Or more likely.. have you ever been annoyed by a YouTube ad that you COULDN’T SKIP!? Learn how to use video advertising to build your business.

If the answer is yes, that’s good. Because it means you inherently understand the first rule of creating YouTube Ads:

Don’t. Annoy. Your. Viewer.

If you remember this one rule, you will do better than 93% of the people using video advertising on YouTube right now. Have you ever seen an annoying ad over and over and over again on YouTube? One so annoying you think “why are they still showing this ad..!?” Well the reason why it’s showing all the time is because it is so cheap to run ads right now that people are getting away with creating awful ads. Believe it or not, despite how bad those ads are.. they are still making enough money for the advertisers to continue pumping money into them. So, if you know how to create an ad that is just SLIGHTLY more engaging than what is out there right now.. you will do well.

But how do you make an engaging ad? Well the good news is you don’t have to figure that out. Through our agency we’ve spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on video advertising testing a whole bunch of different things to see what works and what doesn’t. What’s even better is that by reading this report you’ll be able to creating high converting YouTube Ads without investing all of the time, money and effort that we did!


Here’s what you need to know:

There are two types of YouTube ads that are working for us at the moment: in-display ads and the in-stream ads.

In-Display Ads

In-display ads are usually those videos that appear on top of your searches as shown in the image below.   

video advertising indisplay ads

You can see that for the keywords “How To Get More Sales” there are 1 million videos and that the first two organically ranked videos took 3-5 years and 200-300k views to get there. So you can take your time to do rank your video organically… or you can out bid these videos and rank your video first.. and at the present moment this can be for as little as 2-3 CENTS!

In-Stream Ads

video advertising instream-ad-63

These are the ads that pop up in front of the video you want to watch. The ones that most people skip. The good news is if people skip your video this works in your favor. Why? YouTube only charges you for a True View.

What does this mean?


An ad that is shorter than 30 seconds is automatically counted as a true view.  This means that YouTube will charge you for the ad as soon as someone watches it. And since they are already charging you for the ad, they will force the viewer to watch the entire ad. Yes. These are the REALLY annoying ads that cannot be skipped. My advice: DO NOT MAKE ADS SHORTER THAN 30 SECONDS..!


For ads longer than 30 seconds YouTube only charges you if someone watches the video for more than 30 seconds or if they engage with your video.

What is engagement? A like, share, comment, subscribing to your channel and clicking on YouTube’s link found on the bottom left. If any of one of these things are performed it is considered a true view and you are charged for it.

However, someone clicking on an annotation IS NOT CONSIDERED A TRUE VIEW. That means if you have an ad that is longer than 30 seconds.. and the viewer clicks on your annotation before they’ve watched it for 30 seconds.. it isn’t considered a true view.. in other words, you don’t have to pay for that click. Let this sink in for a moment.

What this means is that you can place an annotation that drives traffic to your website onto your ads before the 30 second mark and, provided you get the click, that traffic is FREE!

One more time: for ads longer than 30 seconds.. get a click before the 30 second mark… and it is FREE!!

Alright, so now that you’re aware on what in-stream ads are, let’s get the ball rolling and talk about these 11 YouTube Ad Split Test Winners.


How long do you think the average video is watched for before someone closes it? If you guessed 5 seconds you’re right! Most online videos, even ones that aren’t ads, only get watched for 5 seconds or less. What that means for you is if you don’t grab your viewers attention in the first 5 seconds and convince them to watch the rest of your video – they’re gone.

But how do you grab attention in the first five seconds of your video advertising? You need to interrupt their viewing pattern. What do I mean by pattern interrupt? Well humans get used to seeing patterns all the time. The more you see a pattern the more it blends in and once it blends in the more it becomes normal. 

video advertising stop

The FIRST time you see something it grabs your attention because it is different, right? A good example of this is when the first iPhone came out. Every time you saw someone with an iPhone, it just broke the pattern of all of the old school Nokias and stuff you used to see. It stood out – it was unique, it was different, it was cool! Nowadays, whenever the latest iPhone comes out it doesn’t have that same “WOW” factor because now it’s part of a pattern.. everyone has a  smartphone now.

In marketing it’s the same. You want to interrupt the pattern to grab people’s attention. For example in the old days the classifieds used to be pages and pages of columns and columns of black text. This would form a very predictable pattern until one day, a really clever marketer decided to insert an ad in red text. This immediately broke the pattern of ads in black text, stood out and grabbed attention.. until other marketers caught on and started creating ads in different colours.. which now means an ad in red text no longer interrupts the pattern.. but has actually now become a part of the pattern itself.

But why is a pattern interrupt so important in your videos? Well most people waste the first 5 seconds of their video with a boring logo (You can find an example of that here.) You’re already familiar with this pattern, you know an ad is coming and you already have your mouse hovering over the skip button ready to skip.

To prevent this from happening, you need to interrupt that pattern to grab your viewers’ attention. We used the word “STOP” as a pattern interrupt in this video here.

Since viewers don’t expect you to ask them to stop at the beginning of your video this breaks their pattern and grabs their attention.

We tested this against a video where we didn’t say STOP here. What we noticed was a 133%  increase in conversions when we included the pattern interrupt. From 2.19% to 5.1%.

It also drove the cost per conversion down from £4.41 to £2.74!

Here’s the results of the split test:


video advertising results



In this test we discovered that a super specific message in your video leads to more conversations than a generic video that goes broad and tries to encompass different topics.  This is similar to Dynamic Keyword Insertion in Google PPC ads where you create a standard ad and replace the Keywords with the one that you are targeting.

For this test we had a Standard Ad that promoted a masterclass for Presentation Skills and we ran it against three of the most popular keywords for public speaking: Communication Skills, Speaking Skills and Presentation Skills.

Then we created 3 more videos, one where we specifically mentioned the keywords “Communication Skills,” one where we specifically mentioned the keywords “Speaking Skills” and one where we specifically mentioned the keywords “Presentation Skills.”

The results? Based on our tests, the average increase was an unbelievable 85.68%.

Communication Skills

video advertising communication

Our DKI video had, 490 conversions from 2034601 imps (0.024%) & 13278 views (3.69%), while the standard video had a mere 45 conversions from 256576 imps (0.018%) & 1324 views (3.34%) that’s an improvement of 33.33% when using the DKI video.

Speaking Skills

video advertising speaking skills

In this case, our DKI video had an outstanding 394 conversions from 3089525 imps (0.013%) & 36422 views (1.08%), while the standard video had as little as 35 conversions from 519379 imps (0.006%) & 3262 views (1.07%), that’s an improvement of 116.6% when using the DKI video.

Presentation Skills

video advertising stats

In our final test, the DKI video had, 107 conversions from 375397 imps (0.029%) & 1374 views (7.79%), while the standard video had a mere 107 conversions from 375397 imps (0.029%) & 1374 views (7.79%) that’s an improvement of 107.1% when using the DKI video.


The online video audience is very different to the audience for TV. When you watch online videos you’re usually on your phone or your computer.. by yourself. So speak to one person to make your ad more effective.

I have a confession to make – we haven’t done a specific video advertising split test for this here.. because we discovered this shortly after we started in 2010.. and we haven’t bothered testing it since. Why? Well the only reason why someone is watching your video is because of what’s in it for… THEM. What will they get out of watching your video? How are they going to feel after watching your video? What will they learn?

So speak to them. Find out what they want to watch. Understand what they care about. Talk to them, engage with them – make it about THEM.. not YOU. Instead of saying, “In this video, I’m going to make a no bake Oreo cheesecake. The first thing that I’m going to do is…..” it’s much better to say, “In this video, you will learn how to make a no bake Oreo cheesecake. The ingredients that YOU will need are… The first thing that you need to do is to….”

The first tip for making this about the viewer is using “You” at least 5 times in your video. The second tip is to use the phrase “So you can..” It’s a powerful psychological pattern that reinforces what the viewer is getting out of the video.

For example, a powerful phrase would be.

“Once YOU download this cheesecake recipe YOU will learn how to make one in 10 minutes without an oven SO YOU CAN impress all your friends.”



Let’s take a look at it this way. One of the most powerful relationships in sales is the KNOW, LIKE, TRUST, BUY relationship. People don’t BUY from brands, companies or people they don’t TRUST; they don’t TRUST people they don’t LIKE; and they don’t LIKE people they don’t KNOW.

So what’s the easiest way to get people to know, like, trust and buy from us? Well people trust experts, so why not position yourself as one?

Ways to position yourself as an expert and build credibility include telling people who you’ve worked with, or how long you’ve been in the industry. This can also be achieved by telling people what you’ve done. e.g. if you are the author of a book called “How To Handle Objections” that would prove to people you know a bit about objection handling.

Andy Harrington video advertising stats

Don’t waste too much time talking about what you’ve done, make it short and make it sweet by visualizing your accomplishments. It can be less than a few seconds on the video but the impact of establishing yourself as a expert can last a lifetime. (Example)


One of the strangest results from a split test that we ran was to see whether or not mentioning your name impacts the conversion rate. We ran this test for the ads we made for Blair Singer. For those of you not familiar with Blair, he is a best selling author and is known for being a Rich Dad Advisor to Robert Kiyosaki (another best selling author). 

blair singer Andy Harrington video advertising stats 

HERE is the video advertising where Blair mention’s his name.. HERE is the one where he doesn’t.

Our prediction for this video advertising test was that mentioning Blair’s name would increase conversions because it would increase the level of trust for those who don’t know him… and it would increase the level of credibility for those who had heard of him.

So we were pretty surprised when the results came back. The ad where he doesn’t mention his name out performed the one where he does mention his name! With his name, the Cost Per Conversion was $8.30. Without his name, the Cost Per Conversion was $7.51.  That’s a 9.52% decrease in costs. We also noticed a 15.83% increase in conversion rate!

What did we learn from this? That sometimes people don’t need to know who you are in order to trust you enough to download your lead magnet. Interesting right?!


We’ve found that “future pacing” is one of the things that can significantly influence conversion rates. We all know the importance of a good Call-to-Action but Future pacing takes it one step further. The distinction comes from a seemingly minor change.

Instead of using “Click here for more information” we discovered that being more specific, like saying “Download your free report now,” really increases in conversion rates. Click through rates remain the same but the conversion rates are significantly higher.

video advertising stats

Why? Our theory is that psychologically there’s always some fear of the unknown. When you clearly state what’s going to happen and tell them how to make it happen the viewer is gains a bit of comfort knowing how it’s all going to play out before they even click on the annotation.

video advertising stats

Here’s the results of our video advertising experiment.

On average, this video advertising lead generation campaign has an average conversion rate increase of 49.06%

Download VS Click Here: Video 2

  • The DL Version here, had 98 conversions from 21774 impressions (0.450%)
  • The Click version here, had 46 conversions from 18020 impressions (0.255%)
  • Video 2 had a total increase of 76.47%

Download VS Click Here: Video 3

  • DL  version here, 48 conversions from 17032 impressions (0.282%)
  • Click  version here, 36 conversions from 15942 impressions (0.226%)
  • Video 3 had a total increase of 24.78%

Download VS Click Here: Video 4

  • DL version here, 76 conversions from 18198 impressions (0.418%)
  • Click version here, 52 conversions from 16293 impressions (0.319%)
  • Video 4 had a total increase of 31.03%

Average % Improvement:

  • Total Impressions for downloads = 57,004 & 222 conversions = 0.389%
  • Total Impressions for click here = 50,255  & 134 conversions = 0.267%

Average % Improvement:

  • Total Impressions for downloads = 57,004 & 222 conversions = 0.389%
  • Total Impressions for click here = 50,255  & 134 conversions = 0.267%

video advertising stats3


This was one of my favourite video advertising split tests.  We got the idea for this split test from the notion of scarcity. Scarcity is one of the biggest drivers when it comes to motivating people. For instance, when you have weeks to finish off an assignment you probably don’t make much progress on it. However, if you only have one day to do it you’ll get it done in a day. Why? We’re not sure – but our guess is that human beings don’t like to make decisions if they don’t have to. So if we don’t have to make a decision immediately.. we won’t.. we’ll leave it for another day.. which isn’t very helpful when it comes to marketing where we need people to take immediate action.

So, we conducted a video advertising split test where we created false scarcity by adding a Countdown Timer to our video advertising. But here’s the thing.. nothing happened at the end of the Countdown Timer, nothing exploded, your computer would still work.. all that happened was that the timer went down to zero.

The result? Even though nothing happens at the end of the countdown it gives the viewers a sense of urgency, encouraging them to click on the website link. Our split test concluded that on average Opt-ins are increased by 49.18% if you include a countdown timer. The conversion rate per impression, went up from 0.00305% (without) to 0.00455% (with).

Here’s an example of a timer in action.

video advertising countdown timer


The Results

video advertising countdown timer results

  • Video 1 has a stop and no countdown clock. It can be seen here. It has a whopping 3790,028 impressions and 11,189 views, yet the view rate is a mere  0.295%, in this case there were 103 conversions with a CTR of 0.0027%
  • Video 2 has a stop and no countdown clock. It can be seen here. It has a amazing total of 2733544 impressions and 5098 views, with a view rate of  0.186%, there was a total of 93 conversions and a CTR of 0.0034%
  • Video 3 Doesn’t stop but has a countdown clock. It can be seen here. It has a total of 1742586 impressions and 3501 views with a view rate of 0.201% there were a total of 90 conversions and a CTR of  0.0052%
  • Video 4 has a stop within the first 5 seconds and has a countdown clock. it can be seen here. It has a total of 1250104 impressions and  3175 views with a view rate of 0.254%, there were a total of 49 conversions and a CTR of  0.0039%


One of the best things about in-stream ads is that you’ll only be charged whenever someone views your video for more than 30 seconds, or when your video is less than 30 seconds – a true view, as discussed earlier. Having said this, you can take this opportunity to hone your video advertising pitch perfectly.

The objective is to finish within 22 seconds, and create an 8-second “awkward” silence. Keeps the remaining 8 seconds painfully boring – encouraging your viewers to either skip the ad, or click on your website link.  If you can get the viewer to do this time and again, you’re going to get a lot of free traffic.

Bear in mind, to actually get this done, you need have a good video script. If you get everything done including the call to action within the 22 seconds mark, you have a recipe to substantially cutting your costs down!

We’ve done a load of testing on how long this pause should be.. believe it or not we’ve tried 6 seconds, 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 3 seconds etc. We’ve found 8 seconds is the sweet spot.  It allows you to enough time to grab attention, build up credibility and deliver a call to action whilst also being long enough that you can still benefit from getting the free clicks.

video advertising 8 second freeze


Let’s say your viewers have gone past the 30-second mark; YouTube now considers this as a true view.  In other words, you are now paying for the ad… and since you are paying for the ad, you may as well make the most of it and do what you can to convince the viewer to click on your ad.

So tell the viewers what they will get when they click on your ad.  A short “WIIFM” (What’s In It For Me) where you list the features and benefits of your offer before you give them another call to action works great.

Talk about why your product or service is great, and whatever additional benefits that can come from it. This is the time where you can tell the viewer just what’s so good about that and how they can benefit.

Watch The “Without Post 30 Second Call To Action” HERE And Watch The “With Post 30 Second Call To Action” HERE

video advertising CTA


One of our earliest split tests was to determine the importance of the background color. We filmed on a green screen to make it easier to switch out colors and here the results to one of our tests.

A Comparison between green and grey.

video advertising color vs gray

The Results

In this case the green background generated 10.44% more opt-ins (3169 conversions from 344,563 impressions) than the grey background (2793 conversions from 335280 impressions).

video advertising color vs gray 2

We started testing out other background colors. It didn’t take us to long before we found out that the lighter the background color the better chance for more conversions! Based on our data the color that won out the most was plain old White. It just comes to show, that sometimes less is more.


This one’s a bit of fun and it only applies to voice overs for animated videos. We decided to test whether or not the accent of the voice over made a difference in the performance of the ad. The accents we tested were the UK (British) accent vs the US (American) accent.

We found out that the UK accent has been proven to have an increase in click through rates as compared to US accents. As a matter of fact, the UK accents outperformed the US accents even when promoting products in the US. So, if you have any animated videos, try using different accents and see what works best for you. Just one thing, don’t try and fake an accent, trust me, we’ve tried and it’s like watching a train wreck. It’s horrible, but you can’t just look away…

To the Results!

video advertising accent

UK vs US Accent CTR:

Ad 1

The UK accent ad had a CTR of 1.84%, while the US accent version had a mere 1.51%

Ad 2

This test had a slighter bigger gap, with the UK accent ad having a CTR of 1.90%, while the US accent version had a small CTR of 1.17%

Ad 3

On ad 3 the UK accent ad had a CTR of 1.33%, while the US accent version had a mere 1.09%


Based on our results there’s an average of a 34.13% increase in CTR, in UK accent voice-overs compared to the US accent.

Example videos:

Ad 1 with a UK accent can be seen here.

Ad 1 with US accent can be seen here.


So, there you go! We’ve invested a lot of time and effort (and MONEY!) researching and testing a whole bunch of stuff in YouTube video advertising and we’ve laid out of what works best. PLEASE use these results in your YouTube Video Advertising to optimise performance. We live in an exciting time where there are still quite a lot of barriers to entry for YouTube Video Advertising. Not a lot of people are advertising on YouTube. What this means is that there’s a huge opportunity. It’s still VERY cost effective to run YouTube Ads. The reason you see awful ads over and over and over and over again is because, despite how awful the ads are, they are so cheap to run that they still make money. The people who are video advertising on YouTube without much of a strategy are doing well and the ones who actually know what they are doing are doing even better. The information that you now have is priceless. But it is only valuable if you take action on it while the opportunity still exists.

Sooner or later the barriers to entry will be lowered which means that there will be more competition which will raise video advertising costs which will mean that YouTube Advertising will become less profitable. Much like what happened with Google PPC advertising where it went from cents per click to now some people bidding hundreds of dollars per click on certain keywords.

So I encourage you to get started. Get in while video advertising is still relatively noncompetitive. It’s exciting times right now where we are really just at the start of the wave. Take advantage of the knowledge that you have just received from us.. and if you discover anything new, do share it with us! We’d love to hear from you too.

About the author: Justin Teoh has been doing video advertising since 2010 for some of the world’s biggest brands. Visit for more information on getting started with video advertising.

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