How to Make a YouTube Ad That's Good Enough to Watch: TubeTalk 189 with Rob Towne of Purple

Want to know how to create ads and other branded content on YouTube that really connects with your audience? Find out on this week's TubeTalk.

Have you ever watched a YouTube ad knowing full well that it's an ad, but it's so well done that you don't mind sitting and watching the entire thing? Yep, me too. So today on TubeTalk, we speak to one of those companies who does this really well and they are going to be sharing tips and tricks on how to keep an audience engaged. Let's learn from them.

We know that one of the best ways to keep your YouTube channel growing is to build a very engaged audience. The problem that we most of us face is that we launch a video, we think we did a good job, but we look at our retention graph and realize the audience has left really, really early on.

So, you have to wonder how do these companies get that engagement to the point where viewers actually want to hit that subscribe button or buy their product. I’m joined by Rob Towne, Director of Performance Marketing at Purple to understand how can a video titled ‘How to Use a Raw Egg to Determine if Your Mattress is Awful’ got 182 million views. In this episode you will learn:

  • Why storytelling is at the heart of a great YouTube ad
  • Why you need to identify your audience before you start advertising to them
  • How your audience is a collective with many needs and requirements
  • How to work with influencers as a brand
  • How affliate links work for your brand

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How to Make a YouTube Ad That's Good Enough to Watch: Full Transcript

Liron Segev: Rob you're on YouTube, but your guys sell mattresses. What's going up? Tell us about your channel.

Rob Towne: So I joined Purple about a year plus ago, and the YouTube channel had 100K subscribers when I came on board, now it’s up to 175,000. And even to me that was surprising because I come from a background of LinkedIn advertising for B2B companies and things like that. But the fact that Purple's found such success with what they're doing on YouTube, I think we've done a great job of using that as an opportunity to both entertain and educate.

And mattress is a noisy space. So people are always talking about it's comfortable or whatnot. But what we're doing there is we're trying to entertain and show people how ours is different from all the rest.

Liron Segev: All right. So for those who don't know what the Purple brand is, how would you describe that?

Rob Towne: So the Purple brand and the way that we express ourselves, we don't take ourselves too seriously. We have a lot of fun with it. I mean, there's decades of innovation and rocket science that into the actual product itself. We have medical patents that have been used by the co-founders before they moved over and started Purple as a direct to consumer company. But in essence, it's the idea that sleep doesn't have to be something that you dread. You don't have to wake up in pain every morning.

And for a lot of people, they can improve their whole quality of life and their sleeping. People aren't just trying to go to bed and then wake up in the morning and do nothing. They have something that they're passionate about. So we just want to help people to be better at living those lives that they want to live their best life. And that's by bringing them a better opportunity to sleep on something that's different than anything they've ever experienced.

Liron Segev: Do mattresses and pillows have a place on YouTube? Because YouTube is all about GoPros, vlogging, foodies and techies doing their thing, but a mattress company is essentially doing really, really well on the platform.

Rob Towne: So that's really exciting for us. And so we think that for anybody who's looking on YouTube, whatever they're into, our audience is anyone who sleeps because we can just give them a better experience in life.

Liron Segev: And essentially that's pretty much everybody.

Rob Towne: Yeah, exactly. And so we've seen that people love our videos. In a pre-roll situation, anyone can skip after five seconds but our average watch time is over a minute. People are actually enjoying what we're putting in front of them.

We have over a billion minutes watched on YouTube, and so it's an exciting place to be where we see people aren't just watching it and skipping it. They're watching it for a continued duration. They're subscribing to our channel and they're sharing it with their friends. So we have a lot of earned views on top of the paid views.

Liron Segev: It's not your typical content that you would expect to find on YouTube. And yet the content is so appealing. People are not only watching, but they're also subscribing. So down to good old content, content, content, content.

Rob Towne: Exactly. And I can't say enough about the team that we have that's so creative and works really hard to put out these videos that are amazing and incredible. We've collaborated with other production studios in the past. We've been flying out to different cities to do shoots on-site and really it comes down to the creative direction and what we're going to put out there.

Our writers, our videographers, the great acting talent that goes behind it has really helped us to be in a position where we're not just telling our story and we're not just talking about the technology, but we're giving people something that they enjoy and they're going to come back for more.

Liron Segev: So take us through that process if you can, from the time that somebody comes up with an idea, what do you guys do to flesh it out to see whether it's worthwhile doing?

Rob Towne: That's a great question. Any of our products before their launch, there's a lot of research that goes into them. I mean we're looking at competitors out there, we're seeing what's on the market and what's not on the market. We're seeing where there's frustrations where people are saying, oh, for instance, if you've got a pillow, people love that feeling of turning the pillow over and finding the cool side of the pillow.

Well, what if both sides were always cool and they never heat it up? Like how can we solve some of these issues for people so that they never have to worry about it again? And then once we have that idea, we get our research involved and then we start to take different materials testing.

We're flying internationally, pulling in textile samples, building in our lab, everything that we produce, we have 900 plus employees, just in the state of Utah where we're manufacturing a lot of stuff. We're innovating in our labs so R&D is a huge part of what we do. And so we take it from an idea to some conceptualization and testing and then we put it in front of customers and we do some in-home product use because a mattress or a pillow or something isn't going to give you a full experience when you just sit or lay on it for a minute in the store, you've got to actually experience it for weeks on end in your home.

And so we put it out in front of people. If they give feedback, we tweak it, we improve it until we get to the point that we're very proud of this product that we're putting out. We're very confident that it's going to be successful. And from then on it's just about awareness and helping people know that we've got something.

Liron Segev: Speaking of the awareness part, now that you've got the product, you have confidence, you want more people to be aware of it, what's the next step to get it onto the YouTube, into advertising, into in front of people?

Rob Towne: I think any company needs to really look at what type of impact they're having. Well, first know who your audience is. If you don't know who your audience is and you're speaking to the wrong demographic, then you're not going to get anywhere. But once you know who your audience is, they still are not a single individual. There's still a collective and there's a lot of different purposes that people have in their lives. What emotion strikes them most? What benefits and features are going to matter most to them?

So we found, for instance, if we're looking at just our mattress line of products, there is a huge consideration in across device tracking of the different things. But when we're looking at across spouse conversion tracking, that gets even harder.

So we consider that somebody is in the market for a mattress, but it might be the male of the household who ends up making a purchase. Well, that's being highly influenced by a female who's in the house. So we're strategically guiding our message towards that her. She's really essential in the buying process and we need to make sure that we're speaking to her.

And so from our evolution of growing as a company, from a single Kickstarter to where we are today, we need to keep that in mind in our messaging that we're making sure we're hitting the right target audience and that we're bringing them the right message.

Liron Segev: Do you work with influencers? Do you work with people that are out there that have got audiences that you maybe you want to tap into those audiences? What's your process around that?

Rob Towne: Yeah, 100%. We love working with all of the influencers because they know their audience best. They've reached out to people in very authentic ways and so because our product might take a little bit of understanding, it's unlike anything out there on the market. They're able to tell the story a little bit more than we can if we just give somebody a 15, 31 minute video kind of advertisement.

We want people who can authentically speak about their experience. Then we'll work with them to be able to tell the story of what makes sense best for them. I was talking to somebody earlier and saying, for some they're just doing a house tour and they're talking about improving the room. For others they're very adventurous. They're riding dirt bikes and mountain bikes and they'll take their old mattress and tow it behind a pickup truck in the grass and then talk about it in their own way.

We just love to be that kind of brand that's easy to work with and we're not going to dictate the story. You know your audience best. You know your content best. We're going to trust you to tell that as long as it's a brand safe, family friendly type of way, we'll let you kind of go in the direction that makes sense.

Liron Segev: And that's perfect. Being authentic is number one in any advertising place.

Rob Towne: It's just super easy for the audience to see through when you're not being authentic.

Liron Segev: You've got some guidelines for influencers being family-friendly in line with your brands and what you expect that you would be safe to watch. But they know their audience, and you let them serve out that content that makes the most sense. And some of it's going to work really well. Some of it maybe not so much as you expected, but it's about learning, adapting and rinse and repeat until you get it right.

Rob Towne: And there are some times where I would totally not expect something to work out the way that it does, but I'm so excited when I can allow a creator, somebody who's already on YouTube to just run with an idea. They bring it to us and we talk about a little bit and I'll say, listen, I couldn't have thought of anything that was as good as you just came up with right now. Go for it. We'll see how the results look. And more often than not, it surprises me as having very positive return on investment.

Liron Segev: And how do you track that return on investment? Is it from an affiliate link or do you look at video views? What are your metrics?

Rob Towne: Yeah, I mean depending on who we're working with and what type of a deal we've negotiated, we'll have an affiliate situation where somebody can continue to earn revenue years on after. I mean that's a great thing about YouTube is it's evergreen. So when we get an affiliate link into the description and somebody chats about that in their video, they just say, hey, look at the link in the description for the best deal. That can just go on and they keep on getting these royalty checks month after month after month.

For others, they'll be more interested in taking an upfront type of deal and we'll say, how about we work with you, if you're the right size, you're the right brand and we'll outfit your family or you and your spouse with a good set of products.

And then we work with them on that set and for us then we just kind of measure the cost of those goods against what type of sales, revenue and profitability we have. In some cases, we have to work with a lot of small creators to get a lot of small progress. Sometimes we'll work with a large creator where there's a higher level of investment. Obviously, we have a higher return that we expect on that higher investment. And the biggest thing for us is not just number of subscribers but it's the engagement. Are those users going to actually listen to you and take some type of action off of it?

We don't expect you to be like a salesperson in a mattress store because that's what we're trying to avoid. We're trying to fix that broken system. But if somebody's listening to you and they're really qualified audience, then they'll just guide themselves through the rest of the process.

Liron Segev: Totally, totally love it. If people want more information, where should they be looking out? What's your website? What's your YouTube channel?

Rob Towne: Yeah, so if you just go to you can find all of our latest products. If you look on YouTube for the brand Purple, we have our own channel. I mean it's really exciting to have over a billion views and so many videos out there with millions and millions of views. So if anyone wants to go check it out, subscribe, we'd love to hit 200,000 it was great mile mark for us to hit the milestone of 100,000. So we're just really excited where we are.

Liron Segev: A lot of it is very, very funny. People watch it for the entertainment value and it's absolutely amazing. Definitely go check out the website. Definitely go check out the YouTube, hit that subscribe button and then thank you for hanging out with us on TubeTalk.

Rob Towne: Thank you so much. It's been great being here.

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