Advertising on YouTube and expecting high returns mean extra effort and capital. In this episode, Adam Lyons talks to Tom Breeze, the Founder and CEO of Viewability, who has revolutionized the YouTube advertising game. He has created a system where he not only runs someone’s YouTube ads, but also pays for them so that he can control how fast they scale. He’s so good at it that he is willing to put his own money behind it so that those advertisements grow and build faster than any other on social media. Learn more about Tom’s YouTube ad formula and be on your way to getting your ad online.
Listen to the podcast here:
Viewability with Tom Breeze
We’re going to be talking to Tom Breeze who is a very close personal friend of mine. He is also an expert when it comes to YouTube ads. Tom, thank you so much for joining us.
It’s great to be here. How are things?
I’m good. I’m going to jump right in because you’ve made a name for yourself as someone that understands YouTube ads. Your model of doing it blows me away because essentially, tell me if I’m wrong here, but you put your own money into your client’s ads to make them grow.
The way that we do business is we work on a CPA basis, which means that when we work with clients, we’re much more invested. They will pay us on a results-based format. It might be a cost per lead or cost per sale model. We will go and fund the advertising. The clients pay us for the results. There are many benefits to it doing it that way. The client feels like there are zero risks, which it kind of is. It’s zero risks for them, but it also means that we have this ability to go and test and explore different avenues without having to pay you with client money. We can do it ourselves, but then we learn so much that we can apply it to everybody else. It gives us a huge advantage as well for the growth of our agency.
This is one of the most amazing psychological hacks in the world. It’s one of the reasons why I wanted to lead with this because in the show, we’re always thinking about how can we hack our own psychology to get better as a CEO and as a business owner. What you did is you solve one of the biggest problems that most agency based businesses have, which is people don’t believe that they’re the real deal. The agency’s problem is that they want to explore and test new ideas, but they’re using the client’s money and you made all that go away by saying, “I’m so good at running YouTube ads that if I believe in your product, I’m going to spend my own money to test things, grow it and be results-based because I know this is going to work.”
That’s definitely a standpoint we started with. I fell into CPA deals with clients through coming out in the back of an SEO company. We lost some rankings on Google and YouTube with some of our clients. Immediately I was like, “What do I do?” I started spending my own money to try and get results for them and I knew the advertising game well. I fell into it out of pure stress and worry about clients leaving. I said to the clients, “Are those leads working? Are they buying stuff? Are they making money?” They’re like, “It’s working well.” We had the conversation, I was like, “I can carry on if you like.”
They were like, “Yeah.” I was like, “How much do you want to pay for these leads?” They’re like, “I’ll give you $10.” I was like, “That works for us.” We don’t take less than $10, but I’m just happy to keep the client. That’s all I was caring about. I realized that through that process, two things happened. One is that you end up in a much closer relationship with the client because you’re so much more invested, but you’re doing it like a team. They are not treating you like an agency any longer. They’re treating you like a partner, which is a big difference because if I want to go and do something, the client is like, “Let’s do it. Let’s go for it.” Whereas if it’s an agency, there’s a relationship where it almost feels like the client says to the agency, “You do this. This is how I want you to run the account. Here are your margins and here’s what you need to work on.” Whereas when it’s a partnership, it’s like, “We’re going to do this together. Does that sound cool?” It feels so much better. My team loves working with our clients, which is cool.
The other thing is it’s like a bit of an NLP technique. It’s like I future-paced it anyways. If you imagine you’re working with somebody and it’s working, then everyone’s happy and you can move forward and it’s working well. If it doesn’t work out, then it normally fizzles out after 30 days, 60 days as an agency anyway. It doesn’t matter what the pricing model is. It’s whatever way it’s going to work. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. You might lose a little bit more money when it doesn’t work out because you’ve invested your time, your energy and your money to try and get results.
If you’re clever about which clients you want to take on, then you end up realizing, “If it’s going to work out, I get paid better. I have a better client relationship than if it didn’t work out, but I’ve got a much better future with that client as well.” Whichever way you look at it, you’re going to end up working with the client or not. You just got a different perspective on it and the wins and the losses are better for you in that respect. While it sounds riskier, it’s less risky in my head. I feel like we’ve got to get results anyways. We might as well be paid well for results as opposed to being paid a monthly fee for it.
What I love about this, and this is one of the psychology hacks that I try and tell people, is almost all of your best successes will come from failure because the mother of all invention is necessity. You needed to do this in order to solve the other problem that you had in your business with the SEO clients disappearing. That need, I believe, generated a model for agency work that’s better than almost any other ad agency I’ve ever heard of.
Thank you. That is born out of that absolute necessity to drive results and almost like you have to work out the best way forward at that time. You start becoming a lot more resourceful. We have it on a daily basis in some respects. When I’m working with a team, we don’t get results where you plug it in and on day one it works well and you don’t need to tweak it again. There’s a lot of work that goes into what we do. When we do it, we’re not always getting great results every single time. We need to work on it and need to work out different ways of making it work.
On almost a daily basis, we have that need to have to get better results. We’re always trying to work out new strategies and new approaches, but that’s part and parcel of being an agency. I do feel like as a YouTube ad agency, there are not that many people doing it. It feels like I can’t lean on other people and say, “What are you doing? How are you getting results?” We’re out here by ourselves. We feel like pioneers, but we also get arrows in our backs. We don’t have that potential to easily lean on other people to help us out. I thrive on that as well. It’s what pushes me every day as we’re working stuff out for ourselves.The great thing about YouTube ads is you don't need a big subscriber base or a big channel. Click To Tweet
There are two main things I’d like to tackle with you at this point. The first is you’re a family man. You’ve got a new child on the way. How do you balance being the CEO running this big agency with partners? You view your clients as partners. In many ways, you run multiple businesses, just as you run one aspect of them. How do you balance that with being a family man? Do you get work at home? What does it look like?
It’s really tough, that one. I still feel like I’m working that out. I desperately want to spend as much time as I can with my kids. I’m lucky enough to be able to wake up in the morning and decide when I go to work and all that good stuff because most of my clients are US-based. Most of my calls, if I do have calls with clients, will start after lunch and then it all goes into the evening. I spend my mornings with my kids, getting them up, having breakfast, spending a good two hours with them, then walking them into school. I love that. That’s the part of my day that I’m dedicating to them and then weekends are purely for the kids.
That’s what they get and then in the evenings, normally I’m working. I am a wager at that time, but I have pure dedication. I used to be very much the dad that would be half present. I feel like I was there, but I was checking Facebook or Messenger or emails every now and again. That’s all stopped. I turned off my phone completely. I just dedicate my time and attention to that. That was off the back of a book called Essentialism. That book changed me big time. It’s doing the “Hell, yeses.” Do those things ridiculously well. Everything else that’s like, “No,” just say no, definitely. It’s just prioritizing and saying, “What am I going to work on?” and clear away everything else and get good at saying no, which I’m terrible at. There is that attention to what I’m doing at that moment in time. I can very easily shut off things in my mind. If I’m with the kids, nothing else matters unless I need to be at the office. Then it’s a full 180. I’m definitely on the work stuff. I can separate my mind sometimes and have work mind and have a family mind, but I’m dedicated to those times when I’m there.
We have a program called Launchpad where we help CEOs develop and become better. You’re describing one of the key modules, which is time blocking, where we get people to divide up their day in blocks. When you’re working on a block, you’re only working on that thing. Some of those blocks are for family. You’re only working on the family during that moment. It’s divided up clearly so between 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM is just for family or what have you. You divide up the day like that.
I try not to beat myself up about it as well. Sometimes my business does need more time and sometimes my family needs more time. I break the rules slightly every now and again. It’s important that I do that because I need to make sure that I don’t beat myself up about not being there one morning or something or going away on a business trip and not being around for a little while. It’s important to let the kids know that I’m always there as well. They’ve got to fend for themselves sometimes. They’ve got their mom. I’m not leaving them by themselves.
Let’s get into YouTube. Let’s show off for a bit. How big in terms of subscriber account would be one of your biggest clients? Brag a little bit.
We got a couple of clients with over a million subscribers. We don’t judge it based on that. We’d normally judge it based on spend and growth of clients. I’m never too sure about whether to say this or not, but I’ll say it with confidence. According to Google, we are the highest spending performance-based YouTube ad agency worldwide. We spend a bit and we oversee a lot of spends as well. We’re overseeing about $100,000 worth of spend a day across our agency clients and we also do some consulting for some clients as well. We’ve got our fingers in lots of ad accounts working on things all the time and that’s growing all the time. I don’t think there are many YouTube ad people out there that are doing it purely on performance-based and also focusing on direct response. We’re purely focused on generating leads, sales and profits at a scale. That’s what we do, but we’re not the client that will be looking to get brand awareness ads out there. This is much more about results-focused.
People don’t realize how often direct response ads are used. One of my favorites is I work very closely with a number of direct response people. The guy that created the George Foreman Grill is a close friend of mine. GoPro video cameras will launch as direct response as well. Let’s say there was somebody who has never used YouTube ads before. They’ve got a little bit of a business going, maybe someone with local business, maybe a mortgage broker or something and they’re reading this. They’re like, “I love the idea of using YouTube ads, but I have no idea how I would go about doing this.” Let’s say there was a view that they wanted to come and hire you to help them out. What steps should they have to do? Should they start their YouTube channel before talking to you? Should they have something in place first? Should they come to you first? What’s the right way to go about this?
The first thing with any business is to make sure you’ve got some vehicle to turn leads into sales that work, that’s tried and tested and it’s working well. Before you turn on advertising, you want to make sure that you’ve got a scenario whereby you’ve got the ads or whatever ads you’re going to turn on that’s going to put traffic at a particular page. That’s going to turn those people into kind of opt-ins or turn them into customers, depending on what the product is or the service you’re providing. Make sure you’ve got some funnel in place that is able to do that and it does it well. That’s number one. The great thing about YouTube ads is you don’t need a big subscriber base or a big channel or anything like that. Most of our clients will start up new channels and start from zero subscribers. We run the ads as unlisted ads so no one can even find them on YouTube. It’s hidden away, but you can still run them as ads.
You don’t need to have a presence on YouTube yet, but you do need to create a good video. That will come down to a couple of things. One is you want to make sure that you know who your audience is. What’s the customer’s avatar? Not only is it male, female, age range, but also a big part of YouTube is search. What are they looking for? What do they want to know? Do they want to do something like watching how-to videos? Do they want to buy something? Are they reviewing products or something? Thinks about what your customers are going to YouTube for. Once you’ve got a clear idea of that and you know there’s an audience there, I would type that into YouTube and see the videos that are there.
Make sure there are good view counts like over 10,000 views per video on average when you look down the search results. If you’ve got that data in front of you like, “My customers are going to YouTube. They’re typing this type of stuff up. It looks like lots of other people are doing the same thing,” now’s the time we say, “YouTube might be a viable way of targeting for me.” Once you know who those people are and what they want, what they’re searching for, it becomes a lot easier to start creating specific ads for them. I would be specific with who you want to run an ad to and what your messaging needs to be. A lot of that will come down to not only the communication but what can you claim that your product or your service can do for people? How would you back that up with testimonials or reviews and show people how you do it? Maybe there’s a three-step process to getting results. Make sure you focus on their problems and solving those problems.
If you build all of that in and then build a bit of what your credibility in there as well, along with a good call to action, all of those pieces of a video should lead towards that offer that you’ve got for people whether it be something for free, whether it be something for pay. Get that real attention to that video. Make sure you know exactly what you’re going to say to who and then start running your ads in such a way where you’re targeting them based on their search terms or the videos they’re watching. If you start there, YouTube can work incredibly well for you. It gets the ball rolling. You can get your 100 leads a day coming through and then you can start growing from there.Professional ad buyers know when to take action at the right time when it makes sense. Click To Tweet
Let me make sure I got this right. The idea is they are going to make this initial video that has all of the elements that you mentioned from explaining what the process is, showing the testimonials, that kind of thing. They are not running that as an ad, they’re running ads to that video.
That’s an interesting point. I would have said the former. You can create that ad and run that ad as a video. The video would be about two minutes in length with a link to the website at the end of that video. That would run as a YouTube ad. You’re probably familiar with YouTube ads, which are like the pre-roll ad where you go onto YouTube, you press play on one video and then an ad pops up. That’s the kind of ad that we’re running. What used to be called the most annoying ad in the world, we’re running those ads.
It’s a two-minute pre-roll. People have to choose to watch the whole thing.
Here’s the great thing about that. With YouTube, you pay when someone clicks to go to your websites, when they watch past 30 seconds, or if they get to the end of the video. This means that if someone watches 29 seconds of your two-minute video and then thinks “This isn’t for me,” and they skip the ad, it won’t cost you a penny. You’re only going to be spending money on people that are super engaged in what you have to say because 30 seconds’ worth of video content is a long time. As soon as you start your messaging with people and they’re watching for more than 30 seconds, you’ve got their attention. They’re listening to what you have to say. If you’ve targeted your audience in the right way and you have compelling message and you have a good call to action, normally what we’re looking to do is try and get your click-through rates, which is the number of people that click from the number of people that see your ad load, which has an impression to be around about 2%.
If you can get 2% or more, you’ve got a strong video ad that can help you scale. You got to make sure the rest of the website works. That’s why I say getting a funnel that actually converts. If you have a video ad like that and you have good targeting, then you should be getting good results. You can then use that video, whatever you create for your YouTube ad, you can use it on your website if you wish to. You can use it on Facebook. The video is an effective way of communicating. We have formulas like ad scripts formulas that we use to make them work well. The best thing you can do is and make sure that the experience with people is relevant and it’s compelling. That’s the most two important things.
What I love about that is there are so many people that are creating thousands and thousands of videos hoping that one of them will be the lucky ad that works. Whereas what you’ve got is a formula, a step-by-step to do this and you’re talking about making one good video.
What is amazing about this is exactly that. We create one that we’ll probably shoot in two or three ways just to give it a bit of potential to maybe an intro or we want to split test a couple of intros. We just run a couple of intros once we do the shoot on the day for example. I can’t stand it, especially as a CPA agency when we’re doing performance-based stuff to go and create 100 videos and see which one works. That’s expensive work. I sat in front of my computer screen on and off for about eighteen months doing mathematics, going through and being like, “How does that ad perform and why did it perform well? I’m looking purely at the mass of the situation and saying, “What was the view rate? How many people are watching the past 30 seconds? How many people decided to click?”
When we worked it all out, there was a structure to the scripts that was like, “When it has these elements, it tends to work better. If we split test how we put these elements together, then that works even better as well.” We started making this formula and we moved from a process of what we call Aducate which is an acronym for video scripts to now more of a duct tape process. What we’re doing is we’re saying, “Here’s the most effective way of communicating,” and then adding in the testimonials or case studies or showing someone who used the products live in front of you. It means that as a viewer, you’re compelled to be like, “I’ve got this problem. This is one of the solutions. It’s been presented to me in such a way where I can’t deny that the result is ridiculously good. Maybe I should click and find out more about it.”
That’s the message we need to have for people. The magic comes through when you’re concentrating on the viewers’ status. If we understand exactly where they’re at and where they want to be, it’s not just about desired states and problem states. We’re more looking at what the transformation for somebody is and who will they become that they can associate with or make them feel amazing. We’ve been doing this with a guitar client. When people type in things like how to play the guitar, they might want to look for a new strategy or new way of playing the guitar to play better. Through a lot of analysis from their audience and all this other thing, we’re realizing that a lot of them just want to play the guitar to have fun. They know they’re not going to become Jimi Hendrix in their lifetime, so we can let that dream go.
We can play it and have fun and play how we wanted to when we first picked up the guitar, not how we were taught by our guitar tutor and we felt guilty because we haven’t progressed quick enough or something, but then it was not about to even the fun of playing that guitar. It’s being in a group of other people that you can enjoy your time with. I have now the confidence and I can call myself a guitar player. I felt confident enough to call myself a guitar player because I can stand in front of my family and play a song or I can go to the bar and play a song live in front of a mini-crowd or whatever that mini-goal is for you. You have a community supporting you to get to beyond that journey.
That’s what it is for a lot of people. It’s that ability to say, “I’m a guitar player. I may not be the best in the world, but I feel confident myself to say that and I enjoy playing the guitar.” That’s a bigger message to have within your ad. If you can get that and filter it into your ad, it’s so much more compelling. You realize you’re tapping into something that’s much more psychologically attractive to people as opposed to just saying, “Here’s a new strategy you can learn.” That works, but it has a big status change for people where they can view themselves as a different person as a result of doing this training that you’re providing to them.
It reminds me of a good friend of mine who used to work as a salesperson for Aston Martin. He said, “No one ever comes to Aston Martin to buy a car. Everyone comes to Aston Martin because they want to be James Bond.”
That is exactly right. As ad writers, we feel like we hijack some of that ability sometimes. You can be really compelling with your messaging if you know that’s what they want. For example, they’re buying an Aston Martin, they want to become James Bond. They know they’re not James Bond just yet, but they could be in their heads. Now they will be so much more likely to behave in a way that James Bond would behave if you asked them to. What that behavior that James Bond does is it aligns itself with your call to action. You can be so compelling in your call to action because you’re almost saying, “What would James do? In this instance, James Bond would click that link and buy this product.” I’m very overt with it, but what I’m saying is you can start to borrow the traits of the people that people want to become and saying, “You should start behaving like those people now and their behavior will be such to do this.”
That’s such a good psychological hack for advertising. I want to make this clear for everyone because this is a killer. Essentially, what you’re saying is who does my audience wish to become? Not what skills they want to have, not what tricks do they want to have, but who do they want to become, then show them that your product will help them become that person. Ask them what would that person do? That person would already own our products and they would buy it.
That’s exactly it. For example, if I’m selling YouTube ads, we have a YouTube ad course I’m selling, professional ad buyers know when to take action at the right time when it makes sense. They were making logical decisions but also they know to go on their gut sometimes as well. That’s the truth. The ad buyers need to look at data and be like, “I can’t analyze everything. I’m not sure how the algorithm is going to work. I can make a gut decision that I can feel confident in and I’m taking a little bit of a risk, but I’ve got to take action. I’ve got to be moving forward all the time.” That trait lends itself perfectly to someone who’s thinking about buying my course because I can say, “If you want to be a true ad buyer, then you need to know when to make decisions that are right for you. If you can’t make a decision right now, that’s completely cool, but you’re probably not an ad buyer.” I wouldn’t say it quite like that, but you could. It’s almost like saying, “If you want to become an ad buyer, you need to make decisions which make you buy things like this and further your education.”
All ad buyers have taken a course in ad sales like in advertising. They’ve all done it.
Exactly. You’re letting them know who they want to become and how they would act if they were that person right now.
That is one of the best psychological hacks for advertising I could ever imagine. I know somebody who’s going to be reading this are going to be like, “I want to hire Tom Breeze, his company. I want Tom to be my partner and help me have success with my YouTube ads.” What do they have to do? How does somebody do that? How does somebody contact you or sign up? Because you can’t just take everyone because that’s not how your business model works. How does it work?
The way to do it is on our site, which is Viewability.co.uk, we have an application form. You can fill in a few details, get in touch, then we have a qualification process to go through what your numbers look like. We are promoting whether it was a good fit on YouTube, there’s a good audience, all these types of things. Once we do that, we have an internal meeting. We review it and then we let you know if we think we can work with you or not and give you guidance on what to do if we can’t. If we can, we partner up and we work in the very best way we can.
I know you haven’t done anything too much with it, but you gave me a little bit of a golden egg before the start of this. I find that people that listen to podcasts tend to read a book or two. You made a book and didn’t tell anyone, Tom.
That’s exactly how I do things. I wrote a book, Viewability and it’s how to start advertising on YouTube and the most effective way possible. It focuses on starting with the user in mind. It’s understanding where your customers are at, what are they thinking about and where can you intercept them on YouTube with the perfect message. How do you build your campaigns in the right way? It’s just getting started and getting the first few results with YouTube. You can get that on both Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. Viewability is the book. You can also get it from our website, which is Viewability.co.uk.
I want to share with you something because we haven’t spoken for a little bit. When we first met, we challenged each other to grow YouTube channels. There were three of us and Tom decided he was going to grow a YouTube channel using ads and I was going to grow it organically. We did say we were going to touch back in a year and see how we’d done. I know we both forgot about it and moved on. No hate if you haven’t done it, but I stuck with my YouTube channel that we started that day. We’re about to cross two million views and we’re at 25,000 subscribers purely organically.
You win big time.
I was curious, but it was using the same model. We both sat down in a room and we were outlining our strategies. I suspect your channel has made a lot more money than I was during that time. It depends on how you define wins because that’s what you’re all about.
We’ve been focusing purely on client stuff, so we haven’t had the time to put it into our own stuff, but that is all changing. If we have another cool in another year’s time, then I’d like to see where we are at compared to you, but I will give it a go.
It’s so funny, we started the channel with, “Let’s give it a go and see what happens.” That was on demonstration. We were like, “This is how fast we can build an organic channel.” We had it as a side project and we forgot about it. We kept it ticking over and then it’s growing the organic way. It kicked off. We had a few videos that racked up over 100,000 views. We’ve been pushing it. It’s still going and it’s fun. Tom, I want to say thank you so much for coming aboard and taking the time to do this. If there was one psychological hack that you could give somebody to help them be more successful or to take the leap into the YouTube ads or to balance their home life, what would it be? What would be your one big top-secret Tom Breeze psychological hack?
The one big takeaway that what I would focus on and something that served me ridiculously well is sitting with the question of how do I make this work? You know what you want to happen and you know why you want it. It’s a conscious decision of, “This is what I want.” Even though you don’t have the answer to how it’s going to come together just yet, sit with that for a little while and let your brain work on it. It’s amazing when people give it a bit of time and attention. The how comes to you over time. Once you’ve got that, you can start making much bigger steps forward, just sit with how for a while.
Tom, thank you so much for taking the time to come and join us. We appreciate you here.
- Tom Breeze
- Amazon.com – Viewability book
- Amazon.co.uk – Viewability book