Mastering YouTube advertising Ft. Cory Henke of Variable Media (Inbound Success, Ep. 151)



What’s the secret to getting big results from YouTube ad campaigns?

Cory Henke Variable MediaThis week on the Inbound Success podcast, Variable Media founder and CEO Cory Henke covers everything you need to know about YouTube advertising, from who it’s right for, to what types of ads are available, how to create impactful ads, how to choose your bidding format and budget, and much, much more. 

Cory has an impressive career, having helped brands like Purple Mattresses scale through the use of integrated digital ad campaigns, and he is arguably one of the top YouTube ads experts out there. 

Check out the full episode to learn everything you need to know to get started – and get big results from – YouTube advertising.

Resources from this episode:

Check out the Variable Media website
Connect with Cory on LinkedIn
Follow Cory on Twitter @coryhenke
Email Cory at cory[at]


Cory Henke and Kathleen BoothCory and Kathleen recording this episode


Kathleen (00:01): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I’m your host Kathleen Booth and this week, my guest is Cory Henke, who is the founder and CEO of Variable Media. Welcome, Cory.

Cory (00:22): Hi, thank you. Thank you for having me, Kathleen. And it’s an honor to be here.

Kathleen (00:26): I am really excited to have you here. You have such an interesting background and I love what we’re going to talk about today, but without spoiling it first, can you tell my audience a little bit about yourself and also Variable Media?

Cory (00:42): Sure, sure, sure. You know, Los Angeles native, but now live in Utah. And so, you know, got started right out of college, working at agencies and then found an awesome opportunity to work at Yahoo, you know, and that home page and that and that, and they were doing really well.

I think in, you know, the mid, mid, the mid thousands of the two thousands. And then from there really, you know, stuck with small companies and so getting a chance to work at a small agency in Utah.

And then, you know, when coming out to Utah and working at a small agency, I decided, you know, it’s time to develop my own and I’m in developing, you know, our own and working really hard the past, you know, three or four years, we’ve been able to have some success.

And so, you know, it’s a, it’s a real big confidence builder and I’m, you know, I enjoy what I do every single day. And you know, we wouldn’t be, we wouldn’t be here without, you know, so many, so much of the experience to the jobs and the advertisers that we got to work with along the way.

Kathleen (01:35): I love it. And as somebody who used to own an agency for 11 years, I know firsthand how hard it is to build an agency. And so I really, you know, kudos to you for doing it. Side note, if you’re listening and it sounds like there’s, you know, a freight train in the background, that is a massive thunderstorm that is choosing to hit right as we’re recording.

So we have this really interesting, like if you, if you’re into white noise and rain sounds on your sound maker, careful, this podcast might put you to sleep. But we’re going to roll with it. So, so Variable Media, does – you guys do a lot of different things, but one of the things that you’re really good at that I am just interested in, because I’m not an expert in it, and I always love to use my podcasts as an excuse to learn more, it’s YouTube advertising.

And you know, I think it’s one of the reasons I’m so interested in it is, obviously YouTube is just this massive search engine. You know, it’s getting used more and more. I have a 13-year-old.

I think it’s like the place, maybe aside from Reddit, where he spends, spends the most time. And I think that that’s only going to be more true with younger generations. And so, beginning to understand that platform better, I, I feel is very important for any marketer. So you know, I’d love to just hear what you guys are working on. I mean, this is a big topic. So maybe we start with who is YouTube advertising right for?

Cory (03:03): Got it. YouTube advertising is right for every single advertiser. There is not an advertiser that it is wrong for. It is very similar to search, you know, like you mentioned, right? Like if you want somebody to experience their product or service, right?

If you want a chance to get in front of them as they’re searching for something, whereas they might be in, you know, an in-market segment you know, YouTube or Google is the place to do it. I just think YouTube has the advantage because of our short attention spans.

The cell phone, video content, and the speed of delivery, like you know, we can search for anything and solve something, but to watch somebody do it is very different. And that is the, you know, the majority of, from a search perspective, if somebody’s trying to solve a problem.

But in my, in my experience, people come to the platform of YouTube for three things, either for entertainment, education, or inspiration, right. And personally, I use it mostly for education. And when you talk about your son, you know, I wonder, you know, which one his would be, right?

Kathleen (04:06): It’s 100% entertainment because I can tell you it’s either he’s watching a gamer play a game while he plays a game or, or he’s watching like old episodes of, you know, animated TV shows.

Cory (04:22): Yeah.

Kathleen (04:24): I wish it was for education. Maybe we’ll get there.

Cory (04:28): I think it will be. It’s my primary source for where I learned so much, you know, as YouTube is learning from peers, learning from conferences. And so I think YouTube will be the democratization of education because, you know, when you can learn from somebody else, you know, through YouTube, it’s a, it’s a really valuable experience.

Because, you know, what did you have to give up for that? You know, potentially five seconds before you hit a skip button.

Kathleen (04:52): Yeah. And especially, I think now with, when we, when we think about COVID driving, you know, kids home from school, they can’t be in person, parents trying to homeschool. I’ve been there. It’s not easy.

And also just companies, you know, I, it was really interesting. I’m a member of several like Slack groups of people from all different industries and overwhelmingly the feedback I’m hearing is that companies are just not going to go back to what they were before this.

And a lot of, a lot of companies were saying, they’re going to go 100% remote. And training takes on a different format when that happens. And so I couldn’t agree more with you that I think that it’s only going to grow.

Cory (05:31): Yeah. And if it wasn’t important to advertisers before, imagine how important it is now, when somebody can’t walk down the street. It’s like, how do I get in front of them now? Well, you know, pay a cent, you know, pay six bucks, you know, to reach a thousand people in your neighborhood, you know, via YouTube video, you know, YouTube advertising. So I think, I think it, I think it only grows based on the current climate that we’re in.

Kathleen (05:53): So what do you say to someone? I’m putting back on my agency owner hat, cause this is the type of thing I would have heard all the time. What do you say to somebody who says, but my audience isn’t on YouTube? I’m trying to reach, you know, an executive level B2B audience and they’re not on there.

Cory (06:09): Sure. I think that’s when we, you know, get into the strategy of your audience. Right. And as you mentioned, it’s a very small audience, it’s a CEO. And so my first question is, have you tried, have you tried LinkedIn advertising? Right. And the response could be, yes, I’ve tried it. And I’m saying like, okay, so, you know, you see the CPMs at $30, you see the CPMs at $6. Right. And that’s what it takes to attract them. So once they click through to your website, why don’t you set up, you know, every targeting via YouTube and pay a $6 CPM and maybe a dollar click. And then there, you can run your 20 minute, you know, really sales pitch or your 32nd, you know, come back sooner. Right. There’s so much opportunity there, you know, to capture, even if it’s still, you know, a small audience. So I think there’s, you know, again, opportunity for every advertiser. It’s just about, you know, how you use it. But I believe every audience, you know, is on, is on YouTube, but I don’t believe every person is on YouTube.

Kathleen (07:03): So when somebody comes to you, or a company comes to you, and they’re looking for help strategizing their, their paid media program, obviously, as you just pointed out, YouTube, you know, you don’t necessarily do it in isolation as part of a broader strategy. But if somebody comes to you and says, I want to advertise on YouTube, how do you, like, what’s your thought process? How do you go through kind of conceptualizing what it, what campaigns would look like, how you’re going to target audiences and also how YouTube fits within the broader landscape?

Cory (07:33): Sure. I think you know, the big thing that they, for me and my experience working with eCommerce and B2B is that like, it’s a lot of direct response.

So they’re looking at that conversion, right. Sometimes as you mentioned, that conversion can, can be small, right. I’m only dealing with a couple of purchases right. Versus thousands of purchases.

And so then you take it a layer back and go, okay, how is search performing? What are the CPMs on search? How did those CPCs compare? How does Facebook compare? How does LinkedIn compare? It’s more of a comparison type of platform where you’re trying to find the value in it. Does it work better for retargeting? Am I reaching an in-market segment? Because I’m able to leverage Google’s search data, right? Maybe you’re looking for somebody who’s having a life event, you know, graduating college, they’re about to get married, right?

Cory (08:19): So you leverage that Google search engine data, but you’re using it from a YouTube standpoint, you know, to reach them. And so it would really depend on the audience, the right strategy that I would give them, but I would look at the creative. I would say, what do you have? You know? And talking to founders, it’s like, are you willing to get in front of the camera, you know, and sell something?

That is an important piece of it. If you can do that, man, does that put you in a better place in terms of building multi-variation creative to begin to test, and then it’s like, you know, how much emphasis do we want to put on this? And what I mean by emphasis is that I work with a lot of baby brands that are female 25 to 34, right. Much better to find them on Instagram.

And so it’s like, how much energy do you want to put towards YouTube if you are finding more value in those other areas. And so it’s really going to depend on client audience spend and just how bad you want that place to perform.

And we usually see more advertisers move there when they’re trying to scale, Hey, Cory, I’ve maxed out Facebook brand search, maxed out. How do I get YouTube to work? Okay. Let’s take these strategies, let’s implement this. Let’s implement that.

Kathleen (09:21): And talk me through what are the different formats of YouTube advertising?

Cory (09:25): Sure, sure, sure. There’s so many and it’s growing, it’s on. I, I’m going to miss a few, so no YouTube expert get on here and give me crap for it. But I think the two main ones are in-stream skippable and non skippable.

So your skippable are going to be the ads that, you know, allow you to skip. And those are probably the most popular. And then they recently released the ability to do non skippable. And so they insert those in between ads as well as before them.

But they can only be 15 seconds. You usually see higher CPCs cause nobody really clicks there. They want to see their content, but you get a hundred percent completion rate. It’s kind of the advantage of the non skippable.

So you also have a bumper ad, which would be a five second ad. And so it’s not great from an introduction to a brand, but if you’re trying to retarget somebody, right. Usually comes about one third the cost of something that is like skippable or non-scalable, but that’s only a five-second ad. And then

Kathleen (10:24): Skippable and non skippable, always at the beginning.

Cory (10:27): No, you could have a non skippable be in between and then your skippable is always in the beginning.

Kathleen (10:34): And what about the bumpers?

Cory (10:36): The bumpers will always be in the beginning.

Kathleen (10:38): And what’s the difference between a bumper and the other formats? I’m going to ask a lot of dumb questions.

Cory (10:42): No, you asked all the necessary questions. So a bumper is only five seconds. And so it’s very quick, you know? So you’re looking at like more of a $3 CPM versus like a nine. And so you can reach a larger audience with that, but with five seconds they better already know who your brand is. So you usually find like a, like a tier one, like a Coca Cola or like a Nissan using something like that to really stretch the region and apply that impression. Almost like a billboard. Right.

Kathleen (11:10): So is it a bumper, is it distinguished as a bumper only, just because of the length of time that you’re going to? Okay. And then just from listening to you talk about skippable and non skippable, it sounds to me, and I could be making the wrong conclusion here, that if that I would do a non skippable ad, if my goal was to like tell a very specific story or expand my brand reach, whereas I would do a skippable if I wanted the click through, if I wanted the conversion.

Cory (11:41): Yes, yes, yes, exactly. There’s a lot of advantages to skippable, like and put the bumper. And with non skippable, you’re kind of finite, right? Five, 15 beginning or middle with the, with the skippable you have unlimited LinkedIn video. I’ve run a video for DenTek.

That was 20 minutes long where you went into, where you went into like a Vinyasa yoga after like, you know, doing like a little skit. It was, it was a, it was a great creative. We did it, the first agency that I moved out to Utah with. Molio. And what that did is, you saw that wow, 10% of people completed that.

You got people calling corporate and saying, wow, thank you so much for creating this app. And it was just the fact that we were able to do it. You could run a 20-minute ad there. You could take your podcast, upload it to YouTube and just run it as an app.

Cory (12:28): That’s literally the possibility from a skippable standpoint. And then the great thing about the skip is that you only pay for the user after 30 seconds. And so if they decided to cut out in between five or 30, you’d never paid for the user.

Only after 30 seconds, you’re charged on a cost per view and that’s somebody getting past 30 seconds. And so we’ve always said zero to 30 seconds. You have such an amazing opportunity. So really brand educate, tell a story, solve a problem, reintroduce the brand again, and then see if they want to continue.

Kathleen (13:02): Certainly speaks to the importance of like coming out strong from the gate. So we have skippable, non skippable, bumper.

Cory (13:09): Yup.

Kathleen (13:11): Anything else?

Cory (13:11): We have, I’m blanking on the name and it makes me want to open up Google ads.

Cory (13:19): This this feature allows you to place a video based on what video, what, what interaction they had with the video before. So if you run a skippable ad and somebody skips, you can choose what video that person sees next.

Or if that person stays tops 30 seconds and becomes a view, they might get a different video. And then based on that video, they could get one video or a different video. And so sequential messaging, that’s what it’s called. And so you can do sequential messaging, which I think is really great for B2B.

We use it a lot for B2B, which is just like, okay, they stayed through this video. This is great. Okay. They skip that video. Let’s show them something funny again and see if they can read, they get back and engage with our brand. Okay.

Cory (13:59): Let’s take it down this funnel. Very, very, very cool tactic. I think one of the more newer you know, features, and again, this isn’t like it’s a, you know, YouTube is very unique in terms of their placements, but they just came out with the lead form. So you can add a lead form to your video now, so you can fill out that lead.

Right. As you know, you’re watching the video and this has been game changing for B2B brands that we’ve been working with. I think a new one is that they used to have like shopping cards, like on the video and they would show products. But now you can drop down that feature and it’ll carousel the products.

And so you can see more. And so you can see YouTube advancing. Some of the other ad units that are on YouTube is you have like a small bar that goes kind of like a cross in the video.

Cory (14:51): And you would usually buy that in like more of the display area, but it comes in on YouTube. You have the, or you used to, they don’t really have that placement anymore, but there used to be a square placement on the top right. I don’t think they do it anymore.

Kathleen (15:06): I remember that.

Cory (15:07): And then before you had to call Google to place those 15 seconds, you know? I always get confused. Non skippable, right? You used to have to call Google. Now you call Google to place that hero ad when you go to the YouTube homepage. And so that’s one that you can, that you can pay, you know, half a million.

Kathleen (15:27): That’s like the Superbowl ad of YouTube.

Cory (15:29): I have to call my friends in Los Angeles. We work on big brands, you know, to really get the insight on what those cost. But that would be, you know, the collection of them. Oh, and then there’s a new one, which I am super excited about because I’ve always felt that YouTube has a lean back format, very similar to TV. I go there for video, everything in-feed. Like Instagram and Facebook to me is more like a slot machine. Right. I’m leaned forward.

I don’t know what’s going to come next. And so I’m just scrolling, right? And so when you take YouTube from a lean back and move it into lean forward, because you have a feed in YouTube, you have your own feed of your subscriptions and you have like the home theater and you have the trending feed. You’re now able to put ads in there. And so it’s interesting how you can take somebody from lean forward. Right?

I just want the slot machine. I just want content. Like, I get the algorithm. You know what I’m watching. Give me something I want. And then you stick an ad in there where it’s one click to a long form video. I don’t think that’s been done yet.

You know? And so that’s one teacher that we’re really focusing on is how to really maximize that discovery feed and drive them either to a video or take them potentially offsite off platform.

Kathleen (16:36): There’s different formats. How does the cost differ between these formats? Are there certain that have dramatically higher CPCs or CPMs?

Cory (16:48): Sure. I think in focusing just on like view metrics, like cost per view, which is what you’re going to pay on when buying YouTube and like CPM, your most expensive is going to be your non skippable 15. That is probably going to be your most expensive, and you’re not going to get a lot of engagement. You’re not going to get a lot of clicks. And so, you know, you’re really using that as a brand tool. I think after that, you know, you’re probably looking at a skippable being the next most expensive. But again, there’s so much inventory that you can make that pretty cheap. But you’ll never get that as cheap as probably bumpers will be at five seconds, you know? And that’s really good.

Kathleen (17:22): How does the cost on YouTube compare to other platforms? Like, is it less or more? Cause, I mean, I’m assuming LinkedIn is the most expensive.

Cory (17:29): The problem is, you know, Kathleen, is that there’s no fair comparison and that is the sucky part about it is that like when you’re in the feed and you get hit with the video on Facebook, you’re in a lean-forward environment. So you’re going to engage for a smaller amount of time. Like, you know, you go to, you go to YouTube strictly for video, you know, your mind is just to spend time there. And so it’s hard to compare like that 30 second skippable versus like a 30, somebody watching 30 seconds on Facebook. I would say the person watching 30 seconds on Facebook, far more engaged, you know? To get them to stay for 30 seconds, it’s much harder, you know, than I think that it is on YouTube. And so I hate that it’s a, that you’d have to compare these two, but I would say if you want somebody to stay with your video longer, if you want somebody to engage with your brand and watch your video, you would put that on YouTube.

Cory (18:17): If you want somebody to see your video and then click through, you would more likely put it into the feed. But you can make each of their rates comparable based on what tactic you take because before YouTube and YouTube, well, Google specifically would only really give you one way to buy things. You can buy things on a cost per view, but now you can do target cost per action. You can do maximize conversions, a lot of different bid types, which can affect the cost of things. And so it works the same way on Facebook video views versus conversion campaigns versus traffic campaigns. And so you can manipulate them to get them really low, but ultimately it’s going to depend on the advertiser’s goals. And you’ve worked in agencies enough to know that in the great words of any advertiser, well, it depends. Right?

Kathleen (19:02): Right. I mean, that was gonna be my next question is, how do you know which bid format to use?

Cory (19:09): You know, testing. And that’s the big thing that we do nowadays is really test different bid types. And it’s been one of the keys to driving better performance. I think in my consulting relationships, the past six months have been optimizing the bid types and learning from just the statistics that YouTube can give you.

Kathleen (19:29): And how many, like when you’re starting, I guess it’s, again, it depends on budget, I’m assuming, but when you start a campaign, how many different tests are you generally running in parallel in the beginning?

Cory (19:42): Sure. I think we look at like first-level and second-level variables when we start. Now first-level, the variables really depend on like what’s most important. And so my first level of variables that I’m going to look at are type, device, age, and maybe household income or another one that made sense specific to the brand. And then second-level variables would be more like, you know, the audiences, right? Like I got thousands of audiences that I can choose from, you know, unless something is particular.

So, market versus customer affinity versus search audience versus going placement specific. Those are kind of second-level. And so at the first level, I’m really trying to say, okay, can I meet my advertisers’ performance? Can I exceed it by just maybe going desktop or mobile only, or mobile, California, Texas, New York. They’re better in big States and with household income above 10%. Right. I take the first level of variables that really drive the best performance. And then we move onto the second level. Once we have that, like really buttoned up, bid type would be the first one that you would want to look at.

Kathleen (20:48): Have you seen any drop in mobile viewing with people stuck at home more with COVID?

Cory (20:57): No, I haven’t seen a drop in mobile, you know, viewing. I think the thing that I’ve seen probably over the years is it, is an improvement in mobile conversion. We used to see the desktop used to convert a lot and now they convert about the same. And so we can see that there’s more people that have I think advanced their understanding of how to purchase online via a mobile device. Yeah.

Kathleen (21:20): Yeah. That’s interesting. So somebody, somebody comes to you, they’re all bought in. They’re ready to go. Obviously this is YouTube. So you’re advertising with video. Are there any best practices that you talk with people about in terms of when they are creating their video assets for advertising?

Cory (21:41): Yeah, there is absolutely a number one best practice. There’s a number one best practice, and I don’t want anybody who listens to this to miss this if they decide to do YouTube advertising, and that is variation testing. If you’re going to build for you to at least build two versions, but this is the most important part, make sure that there’s variation in the beginning of the video. Okay. Do not give me a variation at the end of the video, there’s a fraction of people that are going to end it.

Everybody starts it and don’t make that variation, you know, something similar, make it a little bit different. So you see the difference. You want one of the D rates to be at 15% and you want the other one to be at 35%. You know, you want to see that variation. So make sure they’re a little different. Wildly different.

Cory (22:22): Maybe you might say because you want to see that difference, but that is the number one thing that you want to do because not only are you going to improve performance because there’s going to be a winner between those two, right? If there’s a difference, I’m going to say, okay, that one, it’s a higher view rates, cheaper costs. Let’s go with that one. But you learn more about your YouTube audience. That is the key is that the money’s going to pay for the impressions, the clicks and whatever performance you get out of it. What, in addition, you get from YouTube versus any other, you know, search let’s say, right, because there’s no visual, there is that you’ll learn what your audience gravitates towards. Right. Is it you speaking face to camera? Is it this type of intro? Is it this music in the beginning? Is it, you know, you being funny with this opener? Was it that opener, right? That is, I think is the goldmine of YouTube is the consumer research that you’re able to attain by going after different audiences, these very variables and the data that you get back. So when you find that 54 plus, 10% household income watches completes your video at 19% at age and 18 to 24 completes our video at 7%, it really shows you a different interest level. And when the audiences are so different in terms of their time in life, it’s like, okay, I know a little bit more now. Right.

Kathleen (23:38): That’s so interesting. And is there any target that you tend to shoot for with video completion rates or is it just completely like a metric?

Cory (23:47): You’re obviously going to get higher completion rates, you know, with 45 second videos or minute videos. And the longer the video, the lower, I think it’s really gonna depend on the content, but I think what you’ll want to look at for a barometer is view rate. And so that’s people making it past 30 seconds. And so if your view rate is below 25%, you can work on that. You know, like that can get better. You can convince somebody to stay a little bit longer if you have your rates at 25% or below. But if it’s above 35%, that’s about average. If you’re reaching your rates around 45%, 50% of people are making it past 30 seconds. What are you doing? Give me a call. You know? So no, it’s exciting. And I, I encourage people to focus, focus on the view rate because that is what I think affects your pricing, is that the higher your view rate YouTube looks at like, okay, this is a good ad. We want to keep this on the platform. People are staying with this ad past 30 seconds. When people say less than 30 seconds, I feel like YouTube goes, okay, let’s charge them a little bit more, you know, this isn’t that great. You know, people aren’t staying past let’s, let’s, let’s do that.

Kathleen (24:49): And how should people think about managing their YouTube ads? Like how closely do they need to watch them? How often should they be checking in and changing things, et cetera?

Cory (24:56): You know, I mean, Google would probably tell me not to do this, but you know, we optimize all the time. You know, we look at it, you know, daily, you know, like every few days, if we’re managing the accounts. Some of the accounts I consult for, you know, I jump in once a week and I give them feedback. And you know, I think you should at least be looking at it once a week at the least. But I think, you know, every few days I think it’s important to get in there because there’s learning attached to it. You know, you’ll learn about your audience. And, you know, I think making tweaks that are important, although from the, from the clients that I talked to you they’re upset, you know, leave things on, don’t touch them. You know, I don’t know. Maybe I’m the optimizing guy who just likes to get in there and make a bunch of changes, but you know, things work out well for us. So I don’t think there’s one right way or another, and that’s why we base everything on the data that we analyze.

Kathleen (25:42): So what about budget? Is there a minimum amount that you think an advertiser needs to be able to commit in order to just have enough data to come to any?

Cory (25:52): I don’t $5, $1 tomorrow. Yeah. You have a YouTube video. You have a YouTube channel get started, you know, because what you’re going to do is you’re going to be surprised is you’re going to say, wow, I didn’t know somebody would stay that long. This was an ad happens every single time. And it’s just, I think we put a lot of hurdles in front of ourselves. I think every human does, you know? Myself included, you know? Instead of just trying, instead of just throwing it out there and saying, Hey, what can happen? But I’ve seen it every single time somebody does it. There’s, they’re wildly surprised that like, wow, I didn’t think somebody would listen to it. Well, you know, Google’s targeted. We searched for everything. They know so much about us. They’re going to find the right people. So I encourage anybody, you know, even if you spend $5 a day, a dollar a day, it’s not a problem. You know, there’s a platform there where you can do it.

Kathleen (26:35): And anything that, that advertisers should not do on YouTube?

Cory (26:43): Yes. Okay. So here’s what, here’s what not to do. If you’re an advertiser and you are developing an ad and you’re trying to sell a product where somebody needs to watch the video, then I don’t want you to target any music channels. Okay. Do not target any music channels, because if the music is a part of your collection of who you’re targeting, they could not be watching it. They could only be listening to it. And so we found that in an app that we were running, you know, is that, wow, you know, we’re getting such high view rates on music, but they’re not converting. And it’s like, Oh, the high view rates, it’s because they’re just letting the 15 second play through, you know, they’re not even seeing it or like anything. And so that’s where you can sometimes find, you know, losses, you know. And sometimes it turns you away where like, Oh, this thing doesn’t work. And it’s just, you know, you gotta look at it. And so I would tell every time every advertiser thinks about music advertising because there’s a lot of that on YouTube and they will sneak that in, you know, if you choose a broad audience. And so you know, make sure you exclude those music channels if you want somebody to see your ad.

Kathleen (27:49): It’s a great point. Just thinking about how people on YouTube are interacting with the content that they’re watching, where your ad is going to be placed, or watching or not watching, I guess I should say. That’s a really good point. Now you’ve worked with companies in a variety of industries. Can you share any examples of clients or campaigns that you’ve worked on that have, that have done successful YouTube advertising?

Cory (28:14): Yeah. I mean you know, the reason, you know, why I’m here today? I think talking about YouTube is for, is because of Purple, you know, the Purple mattress brand. When I was working at my previous agency, you know, month, one, 50 K they’re spending on YouTube. Month, three, half a million, you know? And so it kind of grew them, but it was a combination of efforts. You know, it was a great creative developed by the Harmon brothers. And then, you know, them coming to Molio for the data and analytics, we were able to put it together and make it happen. And after that, you know, starting my own company, I went to go consult for them for a bit and help them, you know, continue to excel in that area. So that would be one, I think, you know, one of the more unique ones was trying to get YouTube to work for a female baby brand.

Cory (28:57): You know, this was a unique one where I just couldn’t get it to work. I couldn’t get it towork. And then I started to see the conversions come in and I’m like, Oh, this is great. Right. And so, you know, when you start seeing the conversions come in, you’re like, okay, I’m getting this to work, but it’s still not great, but it’s working a little bit. So what you do is you analyze a placement report. So what the placement report shows you is the contents that they converted on. Right. They converted on your ad, but the content that they were going to watch. Right. yeah. So just trying to learn more about like, why are they converting? Like, let me take these conversions and see what they were going to watch before I converted. Before they converted. And what I’ve found for this baby brand was the fact that all the women were in front of like hurricanes, CNN content. Yeah. And it kind of threw me for a loop. It was just like all this disaster content they’re converting in front of. And so what it showed me was that the fear,

Kathleen (29:54): It was like trigger, triggering their, their mothering, like I need to prepare for the end of days stuff.

Cory (29:59): Exactly, exactly. And so that’s why I said, there’s so much consumer research tied into, you know, YouTube campaigns, but it’s what helped so many other areas of their business. Like that was a thing, is that like, yes, Cory appreciate the insight. And while we couldn’t get YouTube to work, I now know the messaging that I need for X, Y, Z platform in this path though. You know, there’s case studies like that. I think you know, more recently we have a B2B brand that is spending, you know, a lot each month, and you know, they’re in the education space and we’ve been able to take their CPA down. I think we cut it in half by just switching to, you know, a better bid strategy focusing on audiences and really looking at this stuff day over day. I think YouTube is one of the platforms that you can really optimize, you know, and I don’t think anybody is you know, has made it kind of like their expertise yet. Like, I don’t think like Facebook, everybody’s a Facebook expert, right? It was in our feed all the time. And it’s just, you know, I don’t think anybody’s talked through this this YouTube thing, but I think there’s, there, there’s opportunity there. So, you know, in the B2B space, eCommerce space, I think it’s, I think it’s good.

Kathleen (31:09): So one of the things I’m really curious about, with so many options, is I work with a lot of startups and they’re, they’re, you know, high growth companies that are, they want to be high growth companies. When you are, you know, when you’re small and nobody’s heard of you, maybe you have a great product and you go to advertise, how do you think about like correlating that with the format of advertising? And what I mean by that is, do you generally take an approach where you recommend they invest in like raising brand awareness first and then follow more with lead gen or the reverse? Or is it just always kind of a complete mix of both? Like, how does that make sense in terms of calibrating, the, the goals and the format of their advertising to the trajectory of their growth path?

Cory (32:00): Difficult question. But I mean, I would say, you know, to start with a multi-platform approach, you know? I think there’s enough tutorials and there’s enough stuff out here. I think for any founder or CEO, very smart people, you know, if they can build, you know a platform and app, you know, a company, I think they can do well enough to launch, you know, a Google ads account as well as a Facebook ads account. And so when you launch those two platforms, you get Instagram, Facebook, Google discovery, Google display, which stretches across so many different websites, premium, you get YouTube and you get Google search. That is six, you know, you put between like tier one and tier two platforms depending on the product or service that you have. And so I would say with those two platforms and Google analytics, how much can you possibly learn about your audience?

Cory (32:57): Even just spending five grand, you know, spending 500 per platform. But that’s what I would put a startup. That’s where I would put their growth if they did that for three months, you know? And again, the more money they have to start with the advertising. Again, the more they’re going to learn. If you did that for three months, like how much more would, you know, right. You take that information, you go back, you retool and then you go at it again. And so I think it’s kind of like a sprint and learn. Let’s sprint, let’s learn, let’s sprint, let’s learn. And then, okay, what do we know? I think a lot gets lost in the data. I think a lot gets lost of, Oh, let’s throw in these campaigns. Oh, what did we learn? Oh, I don’t know. We switched agencies. Oh, you know, so, and so is here.

Cory (33:33): We hired him as an intern. And so it makes, it makes us industry very elusive. But I still think that any founder, you know, I’m challenging those founders out there, you know, there’s Facebook, UI, Google UI, Google analytics, three platforms, you learn those things. Even at a basic level. You can, you can learn so much about a brand because what I continue to hear more is that the marketing and advertising is the most important piece. Now it used to be the technology. And now it’s like, no, you can have great technology, but if you can’t market it, you know, this stuff. So that’s what I would say is I would say minimal spend those two platforms. You can learn an extreme amount, you know, about an audience and you can reach as many people as you want. And small audiences, big audiences.

Kathleen (34:18): And how long do you, how long do you go before you abandon it? Meaning like, if you’re trying YouTube advertising, you know, you’re doing different experiments, but you’re just not seeing results. I was just talking with a marketer the other day about exactly this, where he’s like, pay-per-click is just not working for us. I’ve tried, I’ve tried, I’ve tried different messaging, different images, different platforms, different channels. How long do you let it go?

Cory (34:43): I don’t know. You know, I don’t know. I think you know, I, when I, when I think about marketing and what I’ve always told our advertisers, like personally, is that I can’t guarantee results. I can’t double your business. I might do it, but I, I can’t guarantee that. What I can guarantee you though, is that advertising is an amplification. So what do you have to amplify, sir? You know, what am I going to amplify? And the brands that I see do the best, do their piece, you know? Like I can’t solve the world. And so when I think about like, Hey, you know, when do you give it up? It’s like, I don’t think you ever give it up. You slow it down and you figure out how to make it work, you know, in my opinion. But you know, there was a LinkedIn post that came out the other day that said, you know, is there a brand that has succeeded without advertising? Brands or brand that have succeeded without doing paid ads? And I immediately responded. I said, absolutely not.

Kathleen (35:38): Well, there wasoOne in the beginning. I know Spanx. They didn’t advertise at all in the beginning, but now they do. I mean, like at some point you can’t avoid it forever. Right?

Cory (35:52): Absolutely. And they go through the whole list and there’s really only one today that doesn’t do it and that’s Tesla, but Costco is another one back in the day that never did it, you know. And they do it now and everybody does it now. And because it’s important. So I wouldn’t tell a brand, you know, to give it up. I tell it to more. I tell them more to slow it down and then, you know, retool the product. How can we cut the product in half? How can we get more people to use it? Because I think the more conversions you see in the beginning, the more that you can eat it in the beginning. And see the conversions, the more you know about your audience, you know, for the next that’s, what I’ve seen work well, is that like the brands that really know how to eat it in the beginning, take the lower conversion rate, take the lower return on ad spend, really take that one to one and not make the best amount of money, learn the most about their audience. And what a lot of advertisers fail to think about is that just because that impression didn’t convert that day or that 30 days of just cause that clicked in convert that day, that 30 days you still branded them, they still saw it and they could come back one day.

Cory (36:47): So we failed to believe in those impressions and clicks and really focus on the conversions. But that’s what I would say, you know, because I wouldn’t give up on the advertising. It’s, it’s the one way to reach people. It’s the one way to put your brand in front of people. We were having this argument the other day. We would call them. You want to call them.

Kathleen (37:07): Without advertising it’s definitely winning ugly. That’s for sure. Well shifting gears, because we will run out of time if I keep going on this and I could forever. There’s so much to learn about YouTube. You know, on this podcast we’re all about inbound marketing. Is there a particular company or individual that you can think of that that’s really killing it with inbound right now?

Cory (37:32): I don’t know. I’d say Joe Martinez and then Michelle I, you know, they’ve got their Paid Media Pros, you know, YouTube channel and you know, in my opinion, that’s the best inbound marketing, you know? I remember, you know, recently I came across a guy that was doing, you know, just a live stream of him talking about, you know, mortgage rates. And I ended up calling him the next day or texting with him and it’s like, this is, this is new. This is for it. Like, how did this happen? And so you know, I follow their channel, I watch a lot of this stuff. And I think if I was going to run any sort of media, you know, like that would be who I would go to if it wasn’t somebody on my team. And so I don’t think they’re reaching out, but I think it’s a very passive way, you know, to show education expertise. And the fact that I can get face to camera and tell you about my business.

Kathleen (38:21): Oh, that’s great. I’ll definitely put a link to that in the show notes. Second question is, all the marketers I talk to, their biggest pain point is keeping up with all the changes in digital marketing. You know, even YouTube is a great example. It’s changing so fast. On this podcast, you mentioned like new ad formats and, and things that are changing. So how do you personally stay up to date and keep yourself educated?

Cory (38:45): I think you know, if you have a rep, you know, stay very close to your rep at these platforms. Ask them to send you, you know, new things. Ask to be a part of, you know, alphas and betas. I think when it comes to those, a lot of different YouTube channels, I think are talking about paid media in the right way. It is hard to filter through it in our industry because you have a lot of, you know, pay me for this course, pay for that course. But I think I find the most, most value in some of the you know, presentations that are posted to YouTube. Some of the podcasts, you know, out there that like, like your own. But the YouTube, I think, presentations for like media posts, you know, some of the European ones that I watch I think are just really good, you know, education sources for me.

Kathleen (39:34): Great. All right. Well, this has been so interesting. Cory, if somebody is listening and they want to learn more about Variable Media or they want to connect with you, what is the best way for them to reach out and connect with you on that?

Cory (39:49): It would be @Coryhanke on Twitter, and then Cory[at], you know, if they want to reach out. But yeah, open book. Should be some questions.

Kathleen (39:57): And that’s C O R Y for anybody listening. H E N K E. Again, I’ll put those links in the show notes. So head there to check that out if you want to reach out to Cory. And if you’re listening and you learned something new today, of course, I would love it if you would leave the podcast a five star review on Apple podcasts. That’s how we get found by more listeners. And if you know somebody else who’s doing kick ass inbound marketing work, tweet me @workmommywork because you never know, they could be the next person I interview. That’s it for this week. Thank you so much, Cory. This was really interesting.

Cory (40:30): Thank you, Kathleen. It’s been awesome. Thank you so much for the opportunity.

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