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Does YouTube PreRoll Advertising Increase Brand Awareness?

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Spoiler alert: we wouldn’t have written a whole blog about it if it didn’t.

Where Is the Best Place to Spend My Marketing Dollars?

Our clients ask us this almost every day and every dental practice has wondered this at some point. While we wish we could give a definitive answer, that simply isn’t possible. Effective marketing needs to be customized for your practice and the market you’re in.

In order to make the best marketing decisions for you, we need to look at your dental practice individually. Getting to know your practice allows us to reach your patients better. That said, almost every business can benefit from some form of digital marketing.

The great thing about digital marketing is that it lets you target your patients very effectively. This means your marketing dollars are spent on people who could actually be your patients, instead of wasting money on people who will never visit your practice.

Your Marketing Options

In order to understand whether digital marketing is a good investment, it’s important to also understand what other types of marketing are out there. Some non-digital tactics that could increase brand awareness and ad recall include:

  • Radio
  • Television
  • Billboard
  • Digital Display Advertising


There’s no denying the effectiveness of radio. It’s easy to segment listeners by location and listeners are typically exposed to ads at a high frequency. Most listeners will tune in every day, meaning that they will listen to ads every day.

Radio advertising is cheaper than a TV spot, but like TV it’s difficult to measure exactly how many people are getting your ad. Radio also has the drawback of not capturing people’s full attention, and many people use it as background noise.

The price point is better than TV, however, it’s impossible to measure how many people are listening at any given time. Also, many radio listeners aren’t actually listening, the radio is often background noise. In addition, you often need to purchase ads on multiple different stations to reach all your potential patients.


It’s undeniably, well, sexy to see your practice on TV. It’s also hard to say that television advertising doesn’t work. Television advertising definitely does work, but is it the most efficient use of your marketing budget? No.

TV ads are expensive and they’re difficult to target. All that money you spend on TV ads isn’t necessarily reaching your potential patients. It’s just not the most cost-effective option.


Seeing a larger than life representation of your practice on a billboard is a great feeling. It’s tangible and visible. It’s not, however, the smartest marketing investment. Are the people driving by your billboard potential patients? How do you know who’s actually seeing it?

People driving by billboards are, obviously, driving. They may also be having a conversation, changing the radio station, or any number of things. Bottom line, drivers aren’t focused on your billboard when they drive by.

Billboards do, however, have the benefit of staying in the same spot. Assuming drivers take a similar route every day, those people will be exposed to your ad continuously. Over repeated exposure (known as frequency), people become more likely to notice and remember your ad.

Digital Display

You’ve probably seen a digital display ad before even if you don’t know what they’re called. They’re the ads that follow you around online and appear beside articles you’re trying to read. As a type of digital marketing, digital display ads have many of the benefits of digital marketing.

Digital display ads allow you to target your exact demographic and location. Plus, you only pay for the people who actually click on your ad. They’re cost-effective and it’s easy to see where conversions come from. It’s easy to measure and easy to see results.

We Did Some Experimenting…

Onto YouTube preroll ads. We wanted to see how they compare to other options available. Do they increase brand awareness and ad recall? We set out to test YouTube preroll ads, so we could confidently recommend the best marketing options to our clients.

Parameters of the Experiment

We worked with a residential HVAC company in a large Canadian city. When we ran the experiment, they were doing about $12M in annual revenue with a digital marketing budget of around $800,000, with very little being spent on YouTube. They also invested in radio and direct Mail.

  • The Objective: Raise brand awareness and ad recall for a Canadian HVAC business.
  • Campaign Run Date: 10/6/2015 – 10/12/2015
  • Budget Spent: $9,465
  • Total Impressions: 416,326
  • Total Video Views: 84,279
  • Average Frequency: 1.9
  • Average Cost Per View: $0.11

How Does Brand Lift Work?

Our experiment ran for 6 days, with the help of Google (who owns YouTube). There were two randomized groups; Group 1 saw the ad and Group 2 was a control group who never saw the ad.

1)   Robust research design

  • Google technology creates 2 randomized groups
      1. Exposed group (the group that sees the video ad)
      2. Control group (the group that doesn’t see the video ad)

2)  Tagless Implementation

  • Surveys get served to both groups
      1. They measure the efficacy of the video ads by asking people from both groups if they’ve heard of the brand in question
      2. They measured 2 factors: brand lift and ad recall

3)  Fast and Inexpensive reporting

  • They gather the responses and compute the results within 2 weeks

The Results We (& Our Clients) Saw

After the experiment, we saw brand lift increase by 30% and ad recall lift by 11.6%. Great results, especially considering that we only ran the ad for 6 days. Typically, to get these kinds of results, ads need to be running for at least 3 months. So, you’re probably wondering, what made the difference.

The amount of time an ad runs for isn’t the only factor to consider when purchasing media, but even we were surprised by how far $9,000 went in 6 days. We learned that ads need to reach the user at least 3 times (for a 3 frequency) for campaigns to have full effect.

Our Learnings

Our frequency throughout the experiment was 1.7. That means most people who saw the ad saw it between 1 and 2 times. With a frequency of 3, the results would have been even better.

After benchmarking the success of the campaign, our ad recall lift score was “below average”, but brand awareness was rated “best in class”. Some of the brand awareness score can be contributed to other campaigns outside the experiment.

Moving Forward

YouTube is now an essential part of the experiment company’s advertising and we’re only continuing to improve the results. We know to target a small enough demographic that frequency is always at 3. Doing this allows us to stay on budget while getting results you don’t normally see from traditional advertising.

All things considered, YouTube is much more effective than TV or other traditional advertising. YouTube campaigns are easy to measure and easy to target. We’re able to create ads that speak to specific patient segments, and only show those ads to those patients.

If you’re interested in YouTube preroll ads for your practice, contact us today. We specialize in digital marketing for dentists, so we know the most effective ways you can reach your patients. We can’t wait to see what the power of digital marketing can do for your practice.

Written by Shelbi Bernhard

Shelbi’s been engulfed in the world of marketing since 2014, starting out with a small freelance agency. Since then, she’s grown into the role of creative and marketing director for several national brands and now works specifically as a marketing director for SmileShop.

Thanks to an extensive background within the creative industry, including photography, graphic design, and web design, Shelbi has a massive foundation of knowledge which shes can leverage to help companies with their large-scale initiatives.

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