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11 YouTube In-Stream Ad Tips (#2 increased conversions by 85.68%)

Today you’ll learn how you can create YouTube In-Stream ads that sell…
…Using the same tips and strategies (plus split test examples!) that increased Veeroll’s click through rates on In-Stream ads by 446%.
Anja Kicken, Veeroll’s Content Manager, broke down the best parts of using YouTube In-Streams ads in this post, but if you need a refresher, In-Stream ads are:

  • the YouTube ads that start playing in front of the video your target audience is watching.
  • skippable – you only pay when a viewer watches 30 seconds of your video (or the duration if it’s shorter than 30 seconds) or engages with your video, whichever comes first.
  • ads that can be used to send your viewer to another YouTube video or channel, but also to your own landing page.

In fact, if someone clicks on your ad prior to the thirty second duration —  you will benefit from free traffic.
Instream ads look like this…
YouTube In Stream Ad
Alright… enough intro information — let’s get into the 11 insanely actionable and easy-to-implement tips you can use to create In-Stream ads that sell?

Tip #1: Get the Viewers Attention!

If you don’t get their attention during the first 5 seconds — they’re gone.
Often referred to as a ‘pattern interrupt’, you need to do something unexpected that stops the viewer from clicking the SKIP AD button.
We often use the word,”STOP!”. As you can see in Andy Harrington’s video here, he says, “If you think YouTube is going help improve your presentation skills, STOP!”
We also tested a video with no stop here.
Viewers do not expect you to tell them to “STOP!” at the beginning of a video, so it grabs their attention immediately. The viewer’s interest will be peaked for a few seconds and now you’ve got your moment to turn viewer attention into viewer action!

The Results

When we tested this for Andy Harrington, we introduced the new “STOP!” pattern interrupt version of the video ad & found we increased conversions by 133% from 2.19% to 5.1% and drove the cost per conversion down from £4.41 to £2.74!


Tip #2: Dynamic Keyword Insertion

Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) is commonly associated with Google Adwords text ads & other ad networks which allows you to customize your ad to a searcher’s search query.
So say, for example, a searcher types in “Washing Machine 2015 Reviews” into the Google search, they are more likely to click on ads that contain the phrase “Washing Machine 2015 Reviews”.
So how can you use DKI in your videos?
We identified that one of our client’s best performing keywords could be categorized into 3 different themes of “Speaking Skills”, “Presentation Skills” & “Communication Skills”, so we went about creating video ads according to these keywords.
If someone typed in “how to improve my communication skills”, they’d now see our client in the video starting the video saying, “Honing your communication skills is essential in business today…”
You can see how we did this here.
We had essentially customized the video ads to a searcher’s search query!
When we compared the new DKI videos for the previous in-stream ads, conversions from impressions increased on average by a whopping 85.68%!

The Results

Communication Skills can be seen here.
Speaking Skills can be seen here.
Presentation Skills can be seen here.
Communication Skills Data:

  • Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) video = 490 conversions from 2034601 imps (0.024%) & 13278 views (3.69%)
  • Standard video = 45 conversions from 256576 imps (0.018%) & 1324 views (3.34%)
  • % improvement = 33.33% when using DKI video.

Speaking Skills Data:

  • Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) video = 394 conversions from 3089525 imps (0.013%) & 36422 views (1.08%)
  • Standard video = 35 conversions from 519379 imps (0.006%) & 3262 views (1.07%)
  • % improvement = 116.6% when using DKI video.

Presentation Skills Data:

  • Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) video = 107 conversions from 375397 imps (0.029%) & 1374 views (7.79%)
  • Standard video = 10 conversions from 72842 imps (0.014%) & 293 views (3.41%)
  • % improvement = 107.1% when using DKI video

Tip #3: Make It About Your Viewer!

You haven’t got long, so make it all about the viewer.
If you speak to the one person watching your ad you’ll have a stronger connection, especially as the viewers are already searching for answers.
Here are two top tips:

  • Say the word “YOU” at least 5 times in the video. (That’ll force you to make it about the viewer.)
  • Use the words “so you can”. This is a powerful psychological language pattern that keeps the video benefit focused & for the viewer.

For example a phrase like…

YOU will improve your presentation skill SO YOU CAN become a recognized authority in your niche.”

… is very powerful.

Tip #4: Build Credibility

If you’re targeting cold traffic, your viewers will want some convincing that you are an authority and worth listening to.
So… how do you build your credibility in the limited time you have?
Don’t spend 10 seconds talking about how good you are as every second is vital. Instead, consider using visuals that show your credibility instantly which will also create a greater and longer-lasting impact.
For instance, if you have spoken on stage, received an award or written a book, then include images or videos of these to build instant authority. It can take less than 2 seconds but it’s important to show your viewer that you’re an authority in your industry.
Notice how we used visuals to build credibility quickly in this In-Stream ad…
Using Visuals in your In-Stream Ads

Tip #5: Think Context Over Content!

Put yourself in your viewer’s shoes when thinking about your offer.
What does your viewer actually want in that exact moment when viewing your ad? Check out Google’s micro-moments as they are very relevant for running ads on YouTube here.
For example, when someone searches ‘online yoga class’ on YouTube, they are probably in their training gear, warmed up and ready to participate in a yoga lesson.
Capitalize on this and give them what they want — offer them a free, instant online yoga lesson and at the end of the yoga class, have another call to action with more great lessons.

Tip #6: Call-to-Action

In the call-to-action for the In-Stream ad, you’re going to ask your viewer to click a button or annotation on the video. But avoid simply saying…

“Click here to find out more”

To achieve higher conversion rates, you need to be specific and let the viewer know that if they click on the call-to-action button right now, they will be taken to a page to register their details and once they do they will receive access to your great offer.
You’re telling the viewer what’s going to happen and what steps to take.
We carried out an experiment testing the endings of 3 different instream video ads. When we simply swapped in a “download free video series” call to action instead of a “click here” call to action.

The Results

This lead generation campaign improved on average by 49.06%!
Download VS Click Here: Video 2

  • 98 conversions from 21774 impressions vs 46 conversions from 18020 impressions (0.450% vs 0.255%)
  • Download version here.
  • Click here version here.
  • Video 2 % increase = +76.47%

Download VS Click Here: Video 3

  • 48 conversions from 17032 impressions vs 36 conversions from 15942 impressions (0.282% vs 0.226%)
  • Download version here.
  • Click here version here.
  • Video 3 % increase = +24.78%

Download VS Click Here: Video 4

  •  76 conversions from 18198 impressions vs 52 conversions from 16293 impressions (0.418% vs 0.319%)
  • Download version here.
  • Click here version here.
  • Video 4 % increase = 31.03% increase

Average % Improvement:

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


Tip #7: Countdown Timer

Have you thought about including a count down timer in your In-stream ad?
Split tests conducted for one of our clients in the tennis tuition industry showed that if you add a timer to the end of your video, it increased the chances of getting someone to click back to the website and opt-in by 49.18%.
The timer creates scarcity and encourages people to take action which drives them to click and sign up.
Below is a screenshot of the video in action:

The Results


  • Video 1 (stop, no countdown) can be seen here.
  • Impressions = 3790,028 impressions > 0.295% > 11,189 views
  • 3790028 impressions > 0.0027% > 103 conversions
  • Video 2 (stop, no countdown) can be seen here.
  • Impressions = 2733544 imps > 0.186% > 5098 views
  • 2733544 > 0.0034% > 93 conversions
  • Video 3 (no stop, countdown) can be seen here.
  • Impressions = 1742586 impressions > 0.201% > 3501 views
  • 1742586 > 0.0052% > 90 conversions
  • Video 4 (stop, countdown) can be seen here.
  • Impressions = 1250104 impressions > 0.254% > 3175 views
  • 1250104 > 0.0039% > 49 conversions.

Countdown vs. No Countdown
Our testing indicated that…

  • Including a countdown timer = conversion rate per impression of 0.00455%
  • Excluding a countdown timer =  conversion rate per impression of 0.00305%
  • Including a countdown timer = increases optins by 49.18%

Tip #8: The 22 Sec Freeze!

A fantastic feature of In-Stream ads is that you only pay when someone either views your video ad for more than 30 seconds or when the viewer watches to the end.
So if you can finish your well honed pitch by 22 seconds, you’ll have 8 seconds before you need to pay anything. The attention span of viewers’ on YouTube is very short so 8 seconds is a long time.
Because you are creating that ‘awkward 8 seconds of silence’, you are encouraging your viewers to either click the SKIP AD button or click the link in your ad.
Remember you’ve got to have a good video script to get a conversion in 22 seconds, but if you can you’ll be forcing an action before the 30 seconds mark which will keep your costs down!

Tip #9: Post 30-Second Call-to-Action

Once you have gone past 30 seconds, you have now paid for the ad so you might as well provide the viewer with more information and give a 2nd call to action.
This is a great opportunity to give additional benefits of your product or service and provide the viewer with plenty of encouragement to click through.
After this second call-to-action, have another 5 second freeze to give the viewer enough time to click.

Tip #10: Color of Your Background

One of the very first split tests after securing our green screen studio was to test different color backgrounds. We would film in green screen and then key out the background to test different colors for conversion rates.
In the stats below you’ll see the first background was green vs grey.
The test above shows a green vs grey background.
Since then, we have run many similar tests and our data analysis shows that the lighter you go, the more conversions you get, with a white background being the best colour to go for!

The Results

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

Tip #11: Choose the Right Accent

Now this next tip only applies to voiceovers during animated videos.
Please do not try putting on an accent when speaking to camera! It won’t work 🙂 (Trust me on this one… experience is a heck of a teacher!)
So when you’ve scripted the video and ordered your voiceover, what accent voiceover artist should you go for? Well, our tests show that it is best to use a UK accent where possible.

The Results

On average UK accents saw a 34.13% increase in click through rates over a US accent.
And these numbers held across different countries too – the UK accent even outperformed the US accent when promoting the videos in the US! So if you have an animated video, you may want to test out some different accents & see what works best for you!
UK vs US Accent CTR:
Ad 1

  • UK = 1.84%
  • US = 1.51%

Ad 2

  • UK = 1.90%
  • US = 1.17%

Ad 3

  • UK = 1.33%
  • US = 1.09%


  • UK = 1.69%
  • US = 1.26%

% increase = 34.13% increase in CTR
Example videos:
Ad 1 UK can be seen here.
Ad 1 US can be seen here.
What tips do you have for creating better YouTube In-Stream ads?
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Tom Breeze

Tom Breeze

Tom Breeze is a YouTube Advertising expert. He’s an entrepreneur, speaker, author and founder of Viewability. Viewability work with the likes of Frank Kern, Amy Porterfield, Neil Patel, Brendon Burchard and many international brands, building and running thousands of campaigns for clients from many industries across the world, testing and tracking all of the results. Do you want to find out if YouTube ads will work for you? All you need to do is answer 3 simple questions and Tom and his team can give you a full breakdown of whether your customers are on YouTube, how to get in front of them and what video ads might be best for you. Find out if YouTube ads will work for you by clicking on this link.

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