YouTube Is Introducing New Ways to Help Small Businesses Make Better Video Ads

Including a free app with music and editing tools

YouTube wants to turn video ads on its platform into a DIY possibility for small- and medium-sized businesses.

Today, Google is launching three ways for SMBs to create video ads for YouTube that are—at least for the most part—free. With a new app called YouTube Director, the video juggernaut is helping businesses with little or no marketing budget create commercials on their own. The app includes a number of templates, music and editing tools and is free to use.

According to Diya Jolly, Google's director of product management, the biggest struggle smaller businesses face on YouTube is the lack of quality of their videos.

"The reason we did this is because we believe, obviously, that video is becoming a more and more important medium on the internet," Jolly said in an interview. "And today what we see is we have a lot of big brands being able to advertise on video because they have the resources for a video campaign, and while we have SMBs, we see that the quality of the video isn't as high."

One small business that has used the app is The Barber Shop Club in Los Angeles, which used it to shoot and edit a spot to coincide with an AdWords campaign. According to Google, the business saw a 73 percent increase in ad recall and a 56 percent lift in brand awareness.

Here's the video ad The Barber Shop Club's created with the video app:

Along with the app, YouTube is also introducing two services for those who don't want to mess with making their own video. Another service will take existing assets—such as a logo or app screen shots—to make a video.

YouTube is also working to connect businesses with nearby filmmakers to make extremely cheap spots. Through its YouTube Director onsite service, businesses in select cities that commit to spending $150 on YouTube advertising will be able to have a YouTube-vetted filmmaker visit their business to film a spot for them. Right now, only six U.S. cities are open to the service—Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco—but Jolly said more could be added later.

While Jolly said YouTube already has a "relatively healthy mix" of SMBs advertising on the platform, she said the overall percentage of ads on the platform is weighted much more heavily to larger businesses with larger budgets.

Jolly said SMBs create ads that on average have significantly lower quality than larger businesses. Larger businesses also tend to refresh creative a lot more often, while smaller ones use the same older, lower quality spots for a longer period of time.

"If you think about it logically, if your creative is bad, using it for a longer time is worse for you," she said. "Also because campaigns are shorter, they tend to try and then they stop and then they try and then to stop, which basically leads to a very choppy results for them."

There are no signs of YouTube slowing down its growth. According to Google, watch time on YouTube is up more than 50 percent for the third year in a row. (At its BrandCast event last month during the Digital Content NewFronts, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki boasted that YouTube now reaches more 18- to 49-year-olds on mobile devices than any TV network.

According to eMarketer, digital advertising is expected to surpass TV spend next year for the first time with a total of $77.4 billion.