YouTube Ad Testing Framework (Copy Testing)

The internet is a ruthless medium; it 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-action) and viewer comments. These behavioural engagement measures are covered in more detail under the section Advertising Engagement.

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


Copy testing (pre-testing) ads on YouTube adopts the A/B testing approach. Different test campaigns (rotating evenly) are run on different platforms to gauge their individual impact.

The suggested sample, to achieve statistically significant results for a 1% difference in VTR (view-through-rate), is greater than 10,000 impressions for each creative. Large samples are required because VTR tends to be low.

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 hard to refute.

The prime advantages are that it precisely target audiences, employs accurate web analytics based success measures and yields unsolicited feedback. That it is real time considerably shortens lead times. Furthermore, the analytics is automated and free-of-cost.

It is however weak on measuring attitudinal engagement and lacks diagnostic. It would therefore combine well with copy testing, which is particularly strong in these areas.

The other main drawback of testing online is that it exposes advertising 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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