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The Cost of a View
By: Luke Willoughby
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Video is the most effective medium for communicating to the masses. It is easy to consume and share. Content lives indefinitely, without the urgency of a constantly refreshing feed. Video is also the most closely related digital format to desired traditional television budgets. In leveraging this valuable form of advertising potential, YouTube offers brands an opportunity to participate with scale, targeting, and efficient pricing.

Disclaimer: If you are a talented individual, or if you have a talented cat, you’ll always be able to post a video and work for free, organic success. But for those looking to support their view count with video, there are a number of options for generating an audience.

Most simply, views can be purchased in a direct buy with YouTube. Every pre-roll ad that runs in front of content does count as a public view, on whatever channel or page being managed by the brand team. These views can most efficiently be purchased directly through Adwords for as low as $.02 per. The audience will be broad and untargeted, but the views are cheap. For qualified targeting in premium channels and content, the bid rises to $.13 per view. Here, a thousand dollars gets 7,692 qualified views.

The challenge in this direct purchase is the pre-roll format should be conducive to an ad structure of 15 or 30 seconds, or an alluring piece of content lasting several minutes. But a 90-minute documentary as a pre-roll advertisement would be offensive to both audience and filmmaker, whatever the inflated view count.

If it is a longer format video, then it must not be viewed as an advertisement but rather as content. Whatever your aim, there are solutions that drive audiences to your video content through prompts or teasers that live on more trafficked publishers. If at the bottom of an article, Time or Forbes carries an interesting snapshot and headline of your content, people can be engaged to click and learn more via your content. Technologies like Outbrain and Taboola host these widgets within premium publishers and refer it as "content discovery." You’ll pay $.30 to $.50 for every person that clicks on your teaser, who then converts as a view on your content within YouTube. At $.40, a thousand dollars gets 2,500 views.

PR and social strategies, potentially reaching millions of readers, can be much more efficient than paid strategies buying audiences. Many brands will already have these resources available, and will incorporate all efforts together. But the security of a contracted media buy has always been favored by the largest advertiser budgets. Meanwhile, smaller projects cannot afford the high overall cost of PR strategies and social teams.

YouTube offers an opportunity to inflate views with a paid strategy, for both large brands and small projects of any kind. One can now more effectively purchase popularity.

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About the Author
Luke Willoughby works in the digital media landscape of New York across varying agencies and brands. He also has a background in video and content production, and is invested in the resurgence of the full-service advertising agency and the associated opportunities for the marketing industry. Originally from Denver, Colorado, he's a fan of most outdoor activities and otherwise enjoys reading and film.
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