YouTube Ad Testing Framework (Copy Testing)

The internet is a ruthless medium that exposes poor content by its insignificance. On the upside, truly engaging campaigns get spotted quickly on the web and can then be rolled onto the relatively expensive conventional media with greater confidence.

As such, the net is a low cost, efficient medium to pre-test ads. A video advertisement uploaded on online platforms like YouTube could be tracked on success measures such as view time, VTR (view-through-rate) or completion rate, and interactions such as click-through-rate (for those with call-to-actions) and viewer comments.

A/B Testing could also be performed to evaluate two or more options, or test for different approaches to the execution.


Copy testing or pre-testing ads on YouTube adopts the A/B testing approach, where different versions of the campaign are tested to see which performs better. These test campaigns are usually rotated evenly across different platforms to measure their individual impact.

A large sample is required for each creative because VTR (view-through-rate) tends to be low. It usually takes more than 10,000 impressions to achieve statistically significant results.

The minimum duration for these tests is 1 week.


Advertisements are evaluated on the following performance metrics:

  • Video Impressions.
  • View-Through-Rate (completion rate).
  • Video Click-Through-Rate (CTR) (to advertiser’s landing page).
  • Video Quartiles (First, Midpoint, Third, Complete).
  • “Skip” button clicks (for skippable ads).
  • User Comments (qualitative).

Advantages and Disadvantages

Online advertising testing provides hard and precise measures that advertisers will find difficult to refute.

The prime advantages are that it precisely targets audiences, employs accurate web analytics-based success measures and yields unsolicited feedback from viewers. That it is real-time considerably shortens lead times making it more efficient. Moreover, the analytics for YouTube advertising is automated and free-of-cost, providing advertisers with valuable insights into their campaigns.

Online ad testing is however weak on measuring attitudinal engagement and lacks diagnostic. Therefore, combining online ad testing with quantitative and qualitative research methods such as Millward Brown’s Link test could be beneficial. These methods are particularly strong in measuring attitudinal engagement and can provide valuable diagnostic insights.

The other main drawback of testing online is that it exposes the test ads to competitors. They get information about products, strategies and tactics, prior to the launch of the advertising campaign. For this reason, marketers are wary of using online platforms for testing purposes.

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