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YouTube Advertisement Experiments

So recently I had a video made I was pretty proud of.  Originally it had about 500 views on YouTube from posting it on a few newsgroups & what not, which I don’t think is bad for a studio project that has been more or less defunct a few years.  But I thought it had more potential.

So I experimented with using the YouTube/Google Adwords promotions to publicize the video.  I was familiar with how quick the money can add up on those kind of campaigns, so I low-balled at $0.01 per click & a budget of $1.00 a day. 

The result over two months was spending $52.20 (pretty close to the $1 a day budget) providing the additional 5,220 views that would be directly caused by this.  After the two months the video only hit about 5,800 views & now (two months after closing the ad campaign) the video just hit 6,000 views.  Which means essentially no one who clicked an advertisement to watch the video shared it with anyone.  Also there has not been any type of sales spike associated with the video views.  (I’d hoped for a sales increase near the level to pay for the ads - a 0.1% click through to purchase sounds reasonable….)

So what’s the moral of my story?  That paying for views doesn’t create any sort of true buzz for a band or generate revenue?  Maybe.  But I can tell you this for sure, if you want to generate 10,000 views of your video on YouTube, it’s as easy as spending $100 & I believe (though I haven’t tested the theory yet) that if you want to try to use an advertisement campaign as an attempt to make a video go viral you should probably invest all the money over a two day instead of two month period.  I’ll report back when I’ve tried that experiment.  Let me know what tools you’ve used to push your videos.

If you’re interested, here is the video:

Brian John Mitchell runs Silber Records & the webzine QRD & makes music as Remora, Vlor, & Small Life Form.

Reader Comments (20)

Brian, great info! Also, enjoying the tremolo on the track...

July 8 | Registered CommenterTim London

@Tim Thanks. The secret to the weird guitar tone on the main guitar is that it doesn't have stings on it, but pieces of wire from a spool at the hardware store tuned to just two notes for the six strings.

Your video is great, but adverts don't generally bring in sales for musicians unless they are a household name and have a new single out with video. Even then, the sales are sluggish. Engaging with your current fans in conjunction with new material is a better option. You had a lot of views which is all good in terms of name branding and the more repetition in peoples minds the more likely to react.

July 9 | Unregistered CommenterMike Borgia

It's interesting in my experience how much ads in general function just as sponsorship to a website rather than generating any income (even more so with print media). It gets to the point where you wonder who clicks on the things. Of course with the video I wasn't trying to get the clicks to generate directly to purchases, but I was hoping that I'd average 3 views per click because of people sharing the video rather than 1 for 1.

There is always brand awareness.

But how would we know that these visitors where all new to your brand.

This is a great post, the point of view is identical to the majority of MTT readers.

July 11 | Unregistered CommenterMartinT

Very thought provoking post here. You've definitely spurred a few ideas here that I'm going to test with my next two releases.

Hey Brian,

I must have been one of the 5,000 viewers. I believe I viewed this video on MTT sometime prior (not sure though)? I liked the video and I showed it to my 9 year old twin boys. They loved it.

I am not a video expert, but my reaction is: would viewers ask themselves: was this video made by one person and the song by another?

I thought the video would have carried the day if live shots of the band were mixed in (25% of the minutes). That way there would be no question about the originality of the song combined with the video.

Perhaps you could do some A or B testing?

I like the song and the video. Good luck.


July 12 | Unregistered CommenterBruce Warila


I added two tags to your post (lego and stop motion). You may want to attempt to make sure every kid that is creating stopmotion video using legos - sees this video.

I suspect that this video/song combination has not found it's audience yet. Keep trying.

Upon thinking about this for five more minutes. Yes, go after the stop motion audience. Create another post on MTT Open Titled "How To Create a Stop Motion Music Video Using Legos". Also, (prior to the MTT Open post), create a new YouTube page with the same title; link both pages together. (this all helps with SEO). Describe the hours and effort you put into this. There are stop motion lego videos that have millions of views, and yours if far more entertaining.


July 12 | Unregistered CommenterBruce Warila

@ Bruce (& in general)

I didn't make the video, a friend/fan did. You may notice it actually says "Vlor" on the wall behind the band. The thing with Vlor is that it's a long distance collaboration project. I recorded the guitar parts in Raleigh, Jessica Bailiff recorded the drums in Toledo, & the vocals & bass were done in Myrtle Beach by the rest of the gang on that track. So a bit hard to get live footage.

The keywords I used were:
iggy pop
proto rock
punk rock
stop motion
watch me bleed
weird music video

"Lego" & "Stop Motion" got the most clicks followed by "Punk Rock." Not sure what else would be appropriate to promote it.


Call me on Wed, Thurs, or Friday if you want to talk about figuring out how to get traction for this video. +1.978.368.1424

July 12 | Unregistered CommenterBruce Warila

@Brian & Bruce,
I expect to see a new post after you guys put your plan into effect about what you did to get traction... lol

Good video Brian and good experiment. Let us know how you get on with advertising over a shorter period of time. You'll probably have to spend a bit more per view though if you weren't getting the full amount of views you would've paid for per day...

July 22 | Registered CommenterShaun Letang

Brian, thanks for sharing your experiment - offers real insight and I will definitely see how it works with a shorter timeframe, in hopes of it helping push a video viral - scheduled for couple months from now and will let you know the results.

I wouldn't have thought to do this so, again, THANK YOU - you consistently provide great posts, loaded with hard data - rare in today's uncertain music marketing environment!!

July 22 | Unregistered CommenterDg.


Thanks for the kind words.

Doing a couple more little tweaking experiments & one thing I've discovered is your title should have some of the things I previously just had in my keyword list. The new video for Remora "049" (still me, but a totally different type of music & video) seems to have gotten some extra unsolicited views since I put the words "optical feedback" (description of the type of video), "music video" (obviously it should be there, but I wasn't putting it in my videos), & "chiptune" (genre description). I did this because I noticed with the Vlor video that when I type "Lego Music Video" on YouTube I wasn't coming up on the first ten pages, right now I'm coming up on page 4. The Remora track is on the first page for both "optical feedback" & "chiptune music video" & #1 for "optical feedback music video." I'm not going to try for an ad campaign on the Remora videos (there's another new one here directed by Bob Freville) because I don't think they have the same commercial viability either as videos or as songs as the Vlor does. Working on another article, hard to balance everything in life....

I think getting viral on YouTube requires commenting. If your 5000 views produced lots of comments, Likes and viewer engagement (and I definitely think you can improve that with what you do in the video, annotations, blah blah blah) then you'll probably get carried up the rankings.

But at the end of the day, it's all about targeting. I mean at $50 you can hardly go wrong. But most PPC campaigns lose money and never yield anything because we mistarget and don't call to action properly. For most of us, social media - engaging with the right bloggers, forums, twitter/FB users, etc is much, much more effective...

Thanks for the post mate.


------- Free Music Marketing Info

July 26 | Unregistered CommenterChris Cox

Woah hang on a sec. I think we need to evaluate hoiw and why we are doing Youtube ads.
If the objective is to kick start a viral campaign then it will become apparent pretty quickly if we have a hit or not. If you have a hit it will start to fly out of the door. If not then it could be a slow burner or possibly NOT a hit. This is not different to how singles are marketed in the UK.

Coming from a pop/dance music background this was the formula.

1. You mailed your record to a selection of 50-100 tastemaker DJs. Their reaction will tell you whether to take the next level. If the reaction was good, you take the next step.

2. Step 2 would be to mail it out to 500-1000 club DJs. This would produce a club hit and you chart high in the club charts (assuming you have a hit of course).

3. At this stage you bring in your licensing team and sign with a major or you go to the bank and press 10 to 50 thousand CDs because you will have a chart hit.

The system was simple and effective and of course cheap. You only had to invest 200 pounds to kick things off. If the tastemakers said your record sucked you PULLED the release. You are paying for their opinion and they will play it at clubs and tell you what the audience thought.

Once you had a buzz hit you then did club promotion. At that stage you would not only have got the vital info you needed but you also would have been able to sell 500 to 1000 records in between and then fund your record.

Now fast forward to 2010. The system is still the same.

We are adopting this approach on our future releases.

1. You need tastemaker feedback. A sample of 1000 Youtubers or Jango people could be key. Do a competition perhaps giveaway a branded prize like a Flip Camcorder or cash or dare I say an iPhone/iPad/iPad. Limit it to 1000 people and perhaps cap your total spend to $300

2. If every comment tells you your record sucks JUNK the release. Remix it or re-release it at a later time but do NOT take it further.

3. If your reaction is great and people start sharing it then by all means invest in a larger promotional strategy and go for the viral.

4. Instead of paying for Youtube views I would suggest you do a Google video Ad and direct people to your website where the reaction sheets live. People can still comment on Youtube but for what you need you need emails and people on YOUR site.

5. Monetise your site and voila you can recoup your investment.

Would love to know what you think about it and share your own ideas.

July 27 | Unregistered CommenterKehinde

"You need tastemaker feedback. A sample of 1000 Youtubers or Jango people could be key."

...have you ever read through Youtube comments? I would test market to dogs before I turned to 1000 people on Youtube. 200 DJs are all DJs -- 1000 random people on Youtube, you're lucky if you get a single human being who functions above a grade school level.

Otherwise, great comment, though.

July 27 | Unregistered CommenterJustin Boland

Sounds like an extremely practical approach (which a lot of artists WON"T take due to fear of discovering the truth), However, to get an accurate read I do think the numbers have to be higher than 1000 AND accurate targeting will be key.

So figuring out/dialing in the best target audience on Jango may take a couple attempts, and finding ways to direct your target audience to the vids is vital (per Justin's reasoning).

also @Brian (and anyone else who has used Jango and Google ads for YouTube promotion)

From your experience, do you think Jango or Google ads are more effective for an artist with limited budget that wants to help jumpstart a release/see if it has what it takes to gain traction and justify further investment? Or split the couple hundred dollars between them?

Definitely will be experimenting with a new artist this way soon so greatly appreciate this discussion - MTT ROCKS!!

July 27 | Unregistered CommenterDg.

Hey Justiin well I would use feedback on my own site rather than Youtubers but you can also screen the youtubers and weed out the numbnuts and then compile a list of decent users.

The alternative would be to use DJs as per the old skool method but another reason why Youtubers could be good is that it is now the default online indicator of a hit. I haven't heard the media use any other site as a yardstick. It is often to Youtube people refer when guaging an online hit.

July 27 | Unregistered CommenterKehinde

My experience with Google Ads not pertaining to this experiment is I get an amount of branding of value to me though it doesn't generate enough revenue to spend more than I do. I mean, I'm getting roughly a million impressions for spending $10 in a month, so it generating around a sale a month (which is unfortunately realistic) brings it to even.

The Vlor Legomotion video is a different thing, because it is intended as a potential viral because not only are their a lot of Lego videos that have gone viral, the director even had one previously (though it was with a relatively well known song). The thing with a video actually going viral I think in my limited knowledge thus far isn't so much about having a decent video (of which there are plenty) as much as being hooked up with a high volume site like Boing Boing or a big deal video blogger. I do these stick figure comics & I made videos of a few of them. They are all very similar in quality & content. One of them was featured in a daily paper in Belgium as a "best video on YouTube" type of thing (the author is a fan of my work) & that video has about 3000 more views than the others, but I find it interesting people would watch one of them but not all of them. I also had one of my stickfigure cartoons that had a religious edge put up on the Christian-only equivalent of YouTube, where it was by a lot my most viewed thing so far (about 15,000 views with me never even mentioning it being there in my own blog). But eventually it comes back around to, if you are getting people to view your video & stumble across it on YouTube, what good does it do? Is the goal to get a video with a lot of views or to sell music or to get your music heard? When I finish the follow-up articles (& videos), we'll all see what has happened.

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