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May 11|

COVID-19 YouTube Trends

This is part of a series of updates that provide data-driven insights and experience-based anecdotes that will hopefully help marketers and brands weather the COVID-19 storm. If you have feedback or questions, please send us a note at

Trends Through May 11, 2020

With over 73% of US adults on YouTube, the Google-owned video platform can be a valuable component to any brand’s marketing mix. But in the age of COVID-19, with overall internet usage soaring and advertisers pulling back their spends, the platform can give you even more ROI.

YouTube typically yields CPMs (cost per 1,000 impressions) in the $8–12 range, with the highest rates occurring during Q3 and Q4 and aligning with traditional holiday pushes. In mid-March, we saw a dramatic decline in YouTube CPMs, as well as other key metrics, as advertisers cut their budgets due to the impacts of COVID-19 and the marketplace became less competitive. CPMs dropped 36% to a new average low of $5.44. However, the first 11 days of May are showing the opposite trend, likely due to consumer behavior shifting as the country’s stay-at-home orders and commerce regulations change.

YouTube CPM trends through May 11, 2020

This trend was mirrored in video view metrics. Typically, YouTube’s average CPV (cost per 30-second view) ranges from $.03–$.04. In mid-March, this dropped 42% to an average low of just $.02.

YouTube CPV trends through May 11, 2020

What Marketers Can Do

This means that marketers still reaching a highly captive audience on YouTube (overall video consumption has increased) but at a significantly reduced cost (fewer advertisers on the platform results in to more competitive rates).

Consider a mix of ad formats and video lengths to develop nuanced messaging funnels, save additional dollars, and create more impact. Aside from traditional in-stream YouTube ads (users can skip at the 5-second mark, but advertisers only pay if the user watches for 30 seconds), consider newer YouTube ad offerings like 15-second non-skippable pre-roll (billed on a CPM basis) or six-second “Bumper” ads (billed on a CPM basis). These ad formats require more specific video lengths and therefore are utilized by fewer brands (fewer brands = better rates).

Layering these ad formats together allows for brand storytelling in sequence, creating greater impact. Traditional in-stream ads can offer a sweeping brand perspective, whereas 15-second non-skippable and 6-second Bumper ads can add frequency and focus on specific products. Retargeting in-stream viewers with 15-second non-skippable ads and Bumpers allows you to create a messaging “funnel.”

We do expect YouTube costs to normalize in the next several months and ramp in Q3 and Q4. If creative is on-hand now, it is certainly worth considering investing on YouTube.

Melissa Haupt

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We look forward to learning more. A Backbone team member will follow up with you directly.

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