- United Airlines attributed more than half (52%) of its YouTube sales conversions to the video-sharing platform's direct-response (DR) ad format, while home-sharing pioneer Airbnb saw a 14% gain in bookings from its DR ads, per an announcement that YouTube shared with Marketing Dive. YouTube today released its leaderboard of ads that used its TrueView for Action format with clickable elements to drive viewer engagement.
- The travel industry saw the highest engagement, with three brands appearing in YouTube's top 10 ranking of DR ads. In addition to United Airlines and Airbnb, vacation rental site Vrbo also saw a strong response. Its ads urged viewers to move from dreaming about a trip to planning and finally booking one, per the announcement.
- Grammarly, the developer of a digital grammar-checking tool, was ranked as the top brand on YouTube's leaderboard of DR video ads. Wayfair, Honey, Progressive Insurance, Lemonade, Purple and B&H Photo Video also appeared in the top 10. YouTube's ranking was determined by an algorithm that considers ad engagement, clicks and total reach, per the announcement.
YouTube's leaderboard of DR video ads shows that travel-related brands were particularly effective at driving viewer engagement. Vrbo and Airbnb's ads emphasized the fantasy of going on a family vacation, while United's more workmanlike spot — which was created with McGarry Bowen and Merkle — touted the direct booking feature of its website. DR ads can help to measure the effectiveness of an ad campaign on interactive platforms, even if a brand's goal is to raise awareness or urge another kind of action, such as a visit to a store, restaurant or sales office.
The lesson from YouTube's ranking appears to be that travel-related brands should add a DR element to their video ads on the platform, given their strong response. The retail industry also was well represented with ads from Wayfair and B&H in the top 10, along with direct-to-consumer (DTC) mattress company Purple. The insurance industry performed well with ads from Progressive and Lemonade, while software-based services like Grammarly and Honey also ranked high.
Another lesson is that a lot of this content is being handled in-house. Three brands worked entirely in-house to create and place their ads: Wayfair.com, Honey and Lemonade. Media placement was done in-house for eight out of the top 10. The exceptions were United Airlines and Grammarly, for which it wasn't clear who the media agency was.
Grammarly's top-ranked ad titled "How Compelling Is Your Writing?" has racked up almost 182 million views since being posted on Feb. 11. The 60-second DR spot demonstrated how its software helps people to be much more articulate in their written communications, which are crucial as texting, emailing and social media posts become more significant in communicating through a smartphone.
YouTube's parent company Alphabet typically doesn't disclose sales and viewership metrics for the platform, although consumer surveys indicate that YouTube is one of the most popular social media platforms. YouTube also has extended beyond user-generated content (UGC) into original programming and music streaming to broaden its audience. A survey this month found that YouTube overtook Netflix for daily video consumption among teens, indicating the platform's power to reach Generation Z.