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‘‘ Video ad views also count towards your video's public YouTube view count. With a $30 ad spend, you can expect 2000 - 3000 new views. ’’

By Vincent TseOctober 18, 2017

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Hi Vincent, can you briefly describe your channel to new viewers?

Hi! My channel produces tech accessory reviews with a niche focus on iPhone cases. Rest assured, I also cover Samsung cases. Occasionally, I will review other tech accessories like mounts, batteries, and gimbals. But the main focus is smartphone cases.

What is your professional background? Why start a Youtube channel?

After graduating with a degree in Industrial Engineering, I got a job as a Campaign Manager in online advertising. I helped brands manage pre-roll video ads on major social networks like Youtube and Facebook. (Pre-roll ads are the video ads that you see before a video plays.)

Initially, I thought the job was pretty cool but I was drained after a few months. Maybe I am a quitter or a privileged millennial? Not sure, but I dreaded going to work every morning. I just didn’t want to deal with that feeling anymore – So I quit.

At the time, I was also running a personal blog called EXCESSORIZE ME. I wanted to improve my site so I started to study front-end web development. I figured I’d write a few tech product reviews here and there while studying HTML and CSS. Become a coding ninja!

Turns out, I had a very short attention span, terrible memory, and not all that great at design.

On top of that, I really sucked at writing.

So I started making videos about the products instead.

How did you come up with the concept? How competitive is this category and how have you differentiated yourself?

Nothing new about reviewing tech products on YouTube. But I chose to review smartphone cases because that was what I had readily available at the time. Plus, no one else was reviewing them in detail.



In terms of competition, there is one channel called Mobile Reviews Eh that has a sizeable following. And the large tech reviewers also cover cases here and there – but it’s not their bread and butter. So there is room to grow and scale here.

I differentiate my content on 3 areas – information, time, and entertainment.

I want to give you the information you need – no fluff scenes that don’t provide value. Second, I make sure the video is concise. If I’m asking for 4-5 minutes of your time, every second should count. Finally, I’ve watched enough ‘reviews’ to know that they get boring real fast. Lot of ‘reviewers’ like to hold the product in their hand and state, “This is X, Y, and Z,” with little-to-no visual cues. I make sure that something is always happening on camera as you take in audible information. If I’m saying this case is scratchproof, I’m scratching away at the case. If it’s drop proof, you’re watching a drop montage.

Overall, my style is a little destructive. You’ll see me dropping and banging the cases and phones around. As some viewers have commented, I’m the HowToBasic of tech reviews.

What kind of planning do you do before filming a review?

I test the cases for a few days to develop an opinion on (1) who this case is for and (2) what this case is for. Unlike many reviewers, I don’t simply compare cases by specs. This leads to reviews that don’t offer proper context.

For example, take a slim case. You won’t get a lot of protection from it. But that’s not a ‘con’ per se. It’s wasn’t designed for protection. Its designed for users who are not overly concerned about protecting their phone. Sure, they may want some scratch or smudge resistance but are really deciding based on the price point. So to rate the case poorly because it doesn’t offer good protection (which I’ve seen way too many reviewers say) is missing the intended purpose of the product.

In regards to the filming process, I used to shoot first and then script according to the footage. But, now I do the exact reverse. I script the videos first and then shoot footage (which seems like the obvious thing to have done from the beginning).

Let’s talk about marketing. Can you describe your general approach to marketing? What channels do you routinely use?

The bulk of my channel’s views come from subscribers who have turned on YouTube notifications. Then of course, the social media. My Twitter is linked and will send out a tweet when I publish a new video on YouTube. I also share a snippet of my video (if it’s a cool slo-mo drop, etc.) on Instagram, which has the bio link routinely updated to the latest video.

Now I also like to purchase ads to extend my reach. Specifically, I use pre-roll video ads from Google Adwords. (I will provide details in the next section). That is my primary marketing mix.

Lately, I have also been cross-posting my blog posts to Medium (with a link to my YouTube video). It has resulted in pockets of traffic here and there. So I’m working on boosting my searchability on Medium.

Can you elaborate on the pre-roll video ads? How effective are they?

There’s a staggering 300 hours of new videos posted onto YouTube every minute – that’s a lot of videos to compete with! It’s a nice way of saying that your video will most likely never be found organically (especially for new or smaller channels). So what to do?

One way is to use Google AdWords. You can promote your new YouTube videos via preroll video ads (reference image below). Why? Because ad-views count as real views! Meaning you can pay for exposure.


In the past, I have invested $20-$30 per video in these pre-roll ad campaigns. A view cost roughly $0.01. So you can get 2000 – 3000 new views for every $30 spent.  A view is only registered when a viewer watches the ad for 30+ seconds. So if a viewer hits that “skip ad” button after 5 seconds, you’re not charged for it! So you know that the 2000 – 3000 new views are from viewers who were interested enough to sit through the ad. (Or were just too lazy to press skip :] )

With a boost in views, new videos will rank higher in YouTube search results (assuming that the video has been optimized for searchability – video title, description tags, etc). Higher ranking in YouTube search equals more organic views.

But a few caveats to consider before purchasing these pre-roll video ads:

First, are you building your YouTube channel into some sort of a business? If not, forget about the paid media. Make content you love, and if people watch, they watch. Grow it organically.

But if you intend on profiting from your channel in the future, consider the $30 ad-spend as a small investment. You’ve already spent 7-8 hours making this video. Why settle for 300 organic views from your social media? Then about the 7-8 hours you put in! Personally, I’m willing to spend a little to extend my reach to a few thousand people.

But again, don’t purchase ads if you don’t have a monetization strategy to recoup those ad expenses. View it as a hobby and enjoy making content for the sake of making content.

Third, don’t promote your videos too early! Make sure you have quality content – ads can’t breathe life into shitty content. You also want to build up a portfolio of videos – don’t begin promoting when you only have one or two videos. If you lack content, there’s no reason for the viewer to come back to your channel.

Finally, you will most likely NOT see a huge spike in subscribers from running this ad campaign. Why? The pre-roll video ads are interrupting the viewer from watching a video they actually want to watch. Of those 2000 – 3000 views, you will find that less than 100 viewers will actually click through to your channel (0.3~0.5%). And an even smaller percentage will actually like, comment, or subscribe (low views/engagement ratio). This campaign will boost views but most likely won’t help your audience engagement rates.

This was a long answer. To briefly summarize: It’s almost impossible for viewers to find videos from new or small channels. Smaller channels need to amass a certain level of views to begin ranking in YouTube search results. Pre-roll ads are a cheap and under-utilized source to accumulate these views. It will help your videos rank higher in search results on YouTube. And thereby increase the number of organic views. Paying for views make sense for those creators who are trying build a business around their Youtube channel.

Your subscription rate had a few spikes in Oct ‘16 and Jan ‘17. What happened?


Well, the most first milestone was actually in October 2015 – where you see the graph go from nothing to something. That’s when my DIY Glow In The Dark iPhone 6 Case video (shown below) went crazy, relatively speaking. The success of this video is the sole reason I decided to continue pursuing YouTube. It still brings thousands of daily views and has passed 2.7+ total million views. I attribute my success to it.

On October 2016, I released my Best iPhone 7 Cases video in collaboration with Canoopsy (a fellow tech reviewer). Through this collaboration, I gained a lot of new and ‘relevant’ subscribers from Canoopsy’s fan base.

In Jan. 2017, there were 2 things that happened. First, I reviewed the SwitchEasy Glass Case (a revolutionary case made of glass to show off the Jet Black of the new iPhone 7). They had a very successful crowdfunding campaign and I was the first-to-market with a review. It brought in 200k views in 2 weeks (big win, as I only had ~25k subs then).

I also participated in one of TechSource’s videos, “What Tech Do We Use? – Episode 1”, which at the time had 1 million subs. This collaboration also brought in lot of his subscribers who liked my style.

The takeaway is to collaborate as much as you can (with relevant channels)!

Is your channel profitable? If so, how long did it take to break-even?

I don’t have a lot of overhead as I live at home and I don’t have many bills to pay. (If I wasn’t at home, I would definetely still be in the workforce). My current expenses look like this:

  • Domain hosting (~$20/year)
  • Server hosting (~$150/year)
  • FreshBooks for invoicing (~$350/year)
  • Evernote (~$50/year)
  • Shopify (~$35/month)
  • AdWords ($100-$500/month)

I couldn’t really tell you when I broke-even. I was always sort of in the profitable side since I am living at home.

What monetization channels are you using? How much does each channel contribute to your total income?

My income streams are: AdSense, Amazon Affliates (including a few other affiliates), Patreon, my new e-commerce shop, freelance work, and sponsored content.

But the money is being generated primarily from these three categories:

  • 70% sponsored content
  • 20% AdSense
  • 10% freelance work

My Patreon never blew up – just a way for friends and loyal viewers to help out. I have some Merch for sale (branded cases with RhinoShield) but my e-commerce shop is still fairly new. So the revenue is insignifcant at the moment. I’d like to change that next year and focus on growing this shop. Never just count on one revenue source!

How many smartphones have you broken during your reviews?

I’ve only ever broken one during a review. That was the Samsung S8 during my RhinoShield CrashGuard Bumper Review. I actually show the result in the video above. I have broken a few phones outside of the video reviews, just randomly though which is ironic…

Finally, what’s next for you (and your channel)?


I’d like to expand my coverage to Every Day Carry (EDC) products – wallets and bags mainly. Then build up my ecommerce store. I’d like to carry stock of cases and build that to become my main revenue driver in the near future.

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  • cynthiajoines

    Thanks for sharing that Vincent! Are there any ways to estimate how many views would be needed to rank in the Top-3 search results for a specific search term in YouTube?

  • Risto Raisanen72

    Hi Vincent! I remember seeing Tai Lopez doing something similar to promote his informational products earlier this year. I didn’t know the CPM was as low as $0.01. Is that the normal price still today?

    • hello

      Hey! You set your own bidding price – I recommend you do bid a max at $0.01, but that means you’ll be getting a lot of cheaper inventory. This is mostly found outside of Canada or the US (where it tends to be quite a bit higher, if estimate around $0.05-0.07, but AdWords suggests a bidding price for you if you really wanted to win premium inventory) so you’ll views from India or elsewhere where other brands aren’t competing for that same ad space.

      • Risto Raisanen72

        I see. The logic seems very similar to what most apps do to get organic downloads on the App Store. Buy App Install Ads from FB and get X downloads to shoot up the charts … then hope for organic downloads from there. Never thought to apply that to YouTube! Make sense – but as you say, if you have a business model.