The 2021 holiday season is already in high gear, with many retailers launching Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions in advance of their usual schedule. It’s a challenging time for marketers made even more difficult as the world finds itself still reeling from the enduring impacts of COVID-19. From changes in consumer behavior, to increased audience fragmentation across emerging platforms like Connected TV, marketers have a lot to contend with to successfully execute on their holiday strategy this year.

Over the course of the past year, YouTube has continued to be an integral part of a media buyer’s strategy in order to deliver full funnel performance and drive business outcomes. The video streaming giant recently rolled out video action campaigns for TV Screens, an updated ad format that’s tailor-made for direct response marketers looking to reach and engage consumers through the largest screen in the home. And YouTube is also kicking off an initiative to make the platform a key shopping destination this season with its weeklong Holiday Stream and Shop event, where social media stars will sell merchandise and brand name products directly through YouTube. Social commerce is still a growing market in the U.S., with eMarketer forecasting social commerce sales to reach $79.64 million in the US by 2025, but this move shows that YouTube is continuing to innovate, and roll out new solutions for marketers throughout the funnel.

This holiday season, YouTube should still be a key part of a marketer’s holiday plans, as audiences continue to flock to the platform. eMarketer estimates that YouTube’s U.S. viewership will grow by 4.4% in 2021 to 223.5 million viewers, with more than half of viewers watching through TV screens.

Here are three best practices that marketers must keep in mind to maximize results on YouTube this holiday season:

Stay Agile With Ad Formats

This time of year can send performance into a spiral, so it is important to re-evaluate what ad formats you’re running as Q4 picks up. Only use the ad formats that directly align with your business goals & objectives, and adjust your bid strategies and expectations.

For example, Discovery ads continue to increase in price year-over-year. We recommend not implementing this ad format unless you’re specifically looking to drive brand consideration, increasing subscribers, increasing shares, driving subscribers to watch additional videos, and/or driving incremental engagement on your YouTube channel. If you’re trying to achieve other KPIs, there may be better ad formats for your strategy.

Test, Test, And Test Again

Get creative! Leaning into testing new creative strategies and targeting tactics can pay off well during the holiday rush.

Here are some tactics we’ve recently found success with, and recommend exploring to see if they’re a good fit for your strategy:

  • For short campaign flights, or very compelling promotions/offers, you may want to open up frequency caps to get your ad in front of your audience more often.
  • Broaden your targeting tactics and consider utilizing audience expansion to increase your reach and find your audience at scale.
  • Test shorter creative assets when available to drive efficiencies, as we have seen that the longer assets may drive up CPVs and CPMs.
  • Experiment with different bidding strategies — for example, testing CPM bidding with TrueView for Reach ads to see if it drives down overall CPMs, or consider switching from Maximize Conversions bidding to Target CPA bidding with Video Action Campaigns to drive more cost efficient actions.

Wait Out The Competition

If possible, take advantage of the steep decline in post-holiday rush CPMs and focus your plan on the period between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. We typically see a drop in CPMs between December 19th and January 10th. While many advertisers slow their spend down around New Year’s Eve, it’s in fact an optimal time to take advantage of lower costs, and after all, audiences are still watching YouTube.

Want to learn more best practices for YouTube? Let’s get in touch — we’d love to hear from you and walk through Pixability’s approach to driving actions across YouTube and Connected TV.