YouTube might be the new TV. The video platform generates the second-most site visits in the US, behind only its parent Google. Along with YouTube’s popularity, however, comes an extremely competitive search landscape. To stay ahead, brands shouldn’t sit idle as competitors race to capture top-of-page real estate.

Although most brands adhere to YouTube video best practices, many fail to defend against competition on their own branded terms: 40% of brands tracked in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Auto suffer from competitive ads on the platform. Value brands are the most susceptible to competitive bidding, with 73% of searches for value brand terms yielding a competitor’s ad as the top search result.

The most aggressive bidders are Ford and Kia. For example, a video highlighting Ford’s new F-150 truck shows up against every brand with a truck lineup. Similarly, Kia features its Niro model against brands with economy SUVs. Meanwhile, Lexus is the sole purchaser of ads against luxury brand terms.

While bidding wars can become expensive for both parties, it’s key for brands to determine whether YouTube users searching for them might be likely to click on a competitor’s ad. If so, that brand has no choice but to bid against its own terms to regain top-of-page visibility. Beyond fighting back via paid strategy, brands should ensure organic ownership over the rest of the search results page via search optimization, including creating compelling long-form content and generating comments and views by engaging with users.

TV has maintained its significance in the auto marketer’s playbook, but YouTube isn’t far behind. As brands continue to adapt to an increasingly digital-oriented audience, it’s becoming clear that a comprehensive YouTube strategy can far extend the lifetime of TV ads.

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