We’ve all been there. You see an eye-catching, mouth-watering food video and immediately think, “I have to have it.” Even if you just finished up a meal. 

The power of video makes YouTube an undeniable resource for driving interest in food and beverage products, especially for those brands you’d find in a store. 90% of people worldwide say they discover new brands or products on YouTube.

But it’s not as simple as posting a delicious recipe video. With food and beverage content accounting for more than 2.3 trillion views across 27M videos and 937K channels on YouTube, advertisers need the right strategy to stand out and drive reach. 

We analyzed the performance of Pixability-run food and beverage campaigns, along with Google’s trend data and public YouTube data, to uncover tips and tricks for driving interest and action for your brand on YouTube. Read on for our top insights. 

1. Switch up your device targeting and ad formats depending on your goals 

When VCR is your goal, target the TV screen

Our research shows that YouTube on TV screens performs exceptionally well for food and beverage advertisers wanting to deliver completed views. Therefore, if VCR is an important metric, we recommend investing more heavily in targeting TV screens. However, video length matters too. When targeting TV screens, we found the ideal video length is 8-15 seconds, while the ideal time for mobile ad units is 16-30 seconds or 31-60 seconds. 

When CTR is your goal, go vertical

If your main goal is to drive click-throughs, our research shows that vertical ads tend to always outperform. In fact, vertical ads can earn 2X higher CTR than regular InStream ads. 

When in doubt, turn to Bumper ads  

In general, we found that food and beverage brands perform well on Bumper ads, regardless of KPI. Food and beverage ads earned a 2.5X greater conversion rate than the all-categories average and a 3% higher view-to-completion rate. 

2. Invest in Snack content to drive your reach 

Highly searched but underproduced, snack content is a great way to get your products in front of viewers. Our research found that many snack-related keywords, such as “Best Seller Snacks,” made the top 15 keyword list for driving video completion rates, along with keywords including “Recipes.” However, using Google’s trend and content gap data, we also found that although viewers search a lot for snack-related keywords, there is insufficient content available compared to demand. 

To help fill this void, we suggest creating homemade snack recipes using your products and leverage keyword targeting in your campaigns. For example, are you a bread company? Showcase how you can make avocado toast. Are you an oat company? Showcase a recipe around healthy energy balls. Not only is this likely to expand your reach, but it’s also likely to drive down costs as there is less competition when compared to other keywords. 

3. Think outside the box when it comes to contextual targeting

As a food and beverage advertiser, you may think the IAB content categories you want to target are obvious, right? Perhaps it’s “Healthy Living” because it’s the New Year, and people want to live healthier lives. Maybe it’s “Family & Relationships” because cooking and food bring people together. 

Pro tip: Neither category is in the top six for driving click-throughs on food and beverage ads. And “Food & Drink” isn’t number one; it’s number three. Based on food and beverage ads Pixability has run, we found consumers watching news, music, food, pop culture, movies, and TV are more likely to click through to learn more about your product.

Targeting beyond the categories you typically align with your brand allows you to reach your audiences while watching the content they love. The result? The perfect balance of suitability, scale, and performance. 

4. Test what type of content works well for your brand

With the amount of food and beverage content available to viewers, you have to get creative to stand out. We took a look at some successful and innovative content tactics and recommend exploring them to see if they’re a good fit for your content strategy.(P.S. All three videos below surpassed the average .05% engagement rate for CPG brands.) 

Create an original or catchy song

Coca-Cola’s Turn Up Your Rhythm video featured an original jingle sung by a member of the boy band BTS that had commenters asking for the full version. It hit a 9.1% engagement rate with 19.8K comments. 

Raise awareness of social causes

Proctor & Gambles Widen the Screen video raised awareness of how easy it is to have a biased assumption of someone based on race. It hit a 1.9% engagement rate. 

Dabble with comedy

Quorn’s Helping the Planet One Bite at a Time video used comedy to emphasize that plant-based protein can help lower the carbon footprint. It hit a 1.05% engagement rate. 

Additional content tactics to test include: 

  • Show the creation process and use motion to captivate the audience
  • Use interactive cards to increase website traffic
  • Use text callouts to emphasize product features

Want to learn more best practices for food and beverage advertisers on YouTube? Get in touch to learn how Pixability can drive suitable reach for your brand.  

s we turn the page on 2022, we spent some time reflecting on the year that was – and wasn’t. 2022 started out with a bang and then soon fizzled as talks of a looming recession increased and advertisers started to slow spend in anticipation of the economic downturn. And yet,  there were some bright moments. We saw YouTube further solidify its place in the streaming landscape as CTV continued to attract audiences and advertisers alike. As we gear up for the coming year, here are some of the key trends that we have on our radar. 

The First-Party Data Era Has Arrived

  • Google may have delayed the “cookie-apocalypse” – again – but the time for brands to build their 1P data infrastructure is now. Those who wait, will see a huge impact on their business. YouTube, as a cookie-less platform alternative, will be an increasingly important part of plans as 1P reservoirs grow. 

YouTube as a CTV player

  • Agencies will continue to increase the way they see YouTube as a CTV player vs. just a digital or social player.

Contextual Advertising is Back in Fashion

  • With Behavioral targeting moving out of the spotlight, contextual advertising and the ability to reach audiences –  in a safe and suitable way – will be all the rage. But there will be the opportunity to do impactful behavioral targeting on YouTube and other walled gardens that many people mistakenly think will go away. 

The Notion of “Premium” Content will Evolve

  • More than ever before “Prime Time” is and will continue to become even more “personal”. Audiences have more choices than ever not just what to watch but where to watch and this will dramatically impact how media is bought. Those who are not incorporating YouTube as part of their “Premium” plan will miss out.

More Definition Around What is Suitable CTV Content

  • The industry will have to define what suitability looks like on CTV, a place where content is proliferating and there is plenty for some brands to want to avoid. 

Buyers Will Make Transparency a Must-Have on CTV

  • The buy-side has been asking for more transparency for the last few years on CTV. I think that 2023 will be the year that they put their foot down and demand transparency into planning and reporting on where they run their ads. Once one publisher opens up transparency, others will have to follow.