YouTube launches a free, DIY tool for businesses in need of short video ads

YouTube today is launching a new tool aimed at small businesses that need a simple, low-cost way to create videos, but may not have the creative experience or technical know-how required to do so. The YouTube Video Builder, as the new tool is simply called, has been in testing with a small group of customers for months but has been rushed to launch more publicly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, where in-person video shoots are no longer an option, and many small businesses are strapped for cash.

“We think Video Builder can help businesses of all sizes who need quick videos, especially now, when we’ve heard from many businesses that they need to update their messaging to customers quickly and easily,” said Ali Miller, director of Product Management at YouTube Ads.

To gain access to the tool, the business will need only a Google Account that can be used to log into Google’s services, like Gmail and YouTube. If they don’t have one, they can link their non-Google email address to a Google account instead. And to save and publish the video, the business will need its own YouTube channel. 

Using the tool is fairly straightforward. The beta version of Video Builder can animate a business’s static assets — including images, text and photos — which can be set to music from YouTube’s free audio library. Users can also select from a variety of layouts based on their messages and goals, says YouTube, and then customize their colors and fonts quickly to generate either a six-second or 15-second video.

When finished, the video can be uploaded as Unlisted to the business’s YouTube Channel — unless the business wants the video ad visible to the public browsing the channel, in which case they can change the setting. The video can then be used wherever the business sees fit, including embedded on other websites or shared elsewhere on social media. And if the business chooses, they can run the videos as ads through Google Ads.

The tool is now one of many DIY solutions on the market for businesses looking to create their own video ads. Vimeo in February released an app that helps small businesses create professional social videos, for example. Last fall, Facetune maker Lightricks launched a full suite of apps for small businesses to use for their social media marketing campaigns. There also are dozens of video editing tools already on the market, including those from incumbents, like Adobe and Apple, as well as from others like Magisto, Canva, PicsArt and many more. Most of these specifically target small business owners with features like templates, easy editing tools, access to stock content and support for one-click multi-platform publishing, among other things.

In the case of YouTube’s Video Builder, the advantage is that the tool produces videos that are optimized for YouTube viewers and integrated with the Google Ads program.

Before today, Video Builder was tested by businesses that ranged from those with hundreds of employees like interior designing service Havenly and sandwich shop Which Wich to those with thousands, like grocer Central Market. In some cases, businesses wanted to alert customers to changing hours or new services, like pickup and delivery. In other cases, brands and agencies may want to use the tool for supplemental videos or experimentation with new concepts.

For today’s public launch, customers will be able to use the tool via the desktop, after gaining beta access. The tool itself is only available in English but the videos it creates can be in any language. YouTube believes it will be able to accommodate all those who sign up, we’re told.

Miller says the tool was initially developed to help businesses quickly and easily create video ads for YouTube.

“While we’ve accelerated the development of the tool to help businesses keep in touch with their consumers, as they are sheltering in place, we still believe it will be helpful to those that want to get started with video creation on YouTube to reach new consumers,” she added.

The new tool is now one of several services for businesses that YouTube has launched in recent months, following last May’s debut of Bumper Machine, a fast way to adapt existing videos into short six-second clips using machine learning. It also recently added new partners to the YouTube Video Directory, which include firms offering a range of services, including lower-cost video editing.

YouTube Video Builder is free to access, after signing up here. 

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