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Sure, you know video content is huge these days, but maybe you think that you don’t have time to show ads on YouTube, or you have no idea what kind of impact they have. Or maybe this sounds like you: “I am just worried about conversions, and I have enough trouble acquiring those leads at a good cost on Facebook and Google, which are my primary concerns right now.” Or, “I’ll get to YouTube when I actually have a video. Plus, YouTube ads are annoying, who even pays attention.”
In this beginner’s tutorial on YouTube Ads, we will show you the real importance of YouTube for your marketing efforts, and how easy it easy to get and measure results that are tangible for your business.
Last year, YouTube surpassed 1.5 billion logged-in monthly users. Video content demand is higher than ever before. So, right off the bat, we know tons of people are on YouTube, and their main selling point – online video content – is shooting through the roof. Those are some decent reasons to pay attention to YouTube.
But advertising on YouTube? How’s that going to work? Well, there’s this company called Google that owns YouTube. Google is the advertising king. YouTube is advertised on Google Ads, the same platform for Google Search Ads and Google Display.
YouTube is its own beast, though. And the overlap of channels within the Google Advertising realm can be confusing. In this article, we’ll go through everything you need to know about YouTube advertising – whether you manage your advertising efforts on your own or have an experienced agency help you – so you won’t get left behind on one of the largest growing trends in the world.
You’ll want to form a Google Ads account and YouTube account, and link them to each other. Bonus points if you get a Google Analytics account and link that with your Google Ads account, as that will help you optimize your YouTube advertising once you’re up and running.
Via Social Examiner
There are many ad formats for the YouTube platform, and what is considered YouTube advertising can be difficult to understand because Google Ads has so many different ad formats that can overlap across channels.
For example, you can post video, text, and display ads on the Google Display Network, and one of the placements you can focus on is YouTube. That’s right, YouTube is a placement on the Display Network that you can exclude or target.
Display banner ads constitute one type of ad that can be shown on YouTube. These banner ads can be 300X250 or 300X60. They appear on the right side of a feature video and above the Video Suggestions list. Theses ads only appear on desktop.
Another banner ad format is the in-video ad overlay, which can be 486X60 or 728X90. These are semi-transparent banner ads that can also include text ads. These ads appear on the lower 20% of the featured video and also appear only on desktop.
But YouTube is a video platform, so why are we talking about banner and text ads a part of YouTube advertising? Let’s dig into the details of video ads for YouTube advertising.
(Formerly In-Display Ads)
One of the really confusing aspects of this ad type is they used to be called In-Display Ads, and now they’re called Discovery Ads, but people still use both terms – and they’re the same type of ad! Also, in-display sounds like they’re just Google Display ads, but they’re not!
Anyway, TrueView Discovery Ads are videos that you get charged for only when someone clicks on your ad that goes to a video, so these videos can be longer without risk. They are also charged when someone watches the whole video or at least 30 seconds of the video, whichever is shorter.
One of the first things you probably do when you go to YouTube is to search for the right video. As you can see, the top result is an ad. This is one of the places you can appear with TrueView Discovery Ads; specifically, in the ‘search’ area of TrueView ads.
Via Blue Corona
Or Discovery Ads can appear as a thumbnail of a video while a related video plays
Since thumbnails are an aspect of Discovery Ads that can get clicked on, you’ll want to create the best thumbnail possible.
After the ad/video is clicked on, a companion ad can appear that links to brand’s landing page.
The companion ad that can come with a Discovery Ad is a 300×250 banner ad and is optional. It appears on the right side while your Video Ad runs.
Discovery Ads have better view rates than Video Ads because users make the choice to view your video by clicking on your ad.
Try to tell a story instead of doing a typical commercial video so that the user wants to see the video all the way through. Discovery Ads are more for top-of-funnel engagement, so try to avoid the hard sell.
To summarize, Discovery Ads can be be shown in search results, on related YouTube videos shown on the right side (YouTube video watch page), on the YouTube mobile app homepage, and mobile web search and watch page.
YouTube Discovery Ads that show up in search results can be an alternative to Google Search Ads, which can be more expensive. Indeed, YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world, so it’s basically like you’re advertising on Google Search Part II.
For ad components, you get a headline that is 25 characters max. You also get 2 lines of 35 characters max (each) for the description, and a thumbnail of the video. The video count is also displayed, as well as the channel name. Here’s an image straight from YouTube to help clarify the different components of a typical Discovery Ad.
(Formerly In-Stream Video Ads)
Google is going through a transition period right now in terms of branding, such as the switch from Google AdWords to just Google Ads. They’ve done the same thing with YouTube, unfortunately. In general, Video Ads can be skippable or non-skippable ads, and they also include bumper ads. Essentially, this covers all Video Ads across Google and its partner sites.
That’s right, they kept the ‘in-stream’ part around to describe certain Video Ads, because Google is really cool like that.
TrueView In-stream Ads (the Skippable kind) are ads that you only pay for when the user watches til the end of the video, or at least 30 seconds of the ad – whichever is shorter. These are usually shown before or during another video. This is why they are also called ‘pre-roll ads’.
When the video is shown during the video it is ‘mid-roll’ and if they are shown at the end of a featured video, it’s called ‘post-roll’. Users have 5 seconds to choose whether to continue watching the video or not. These ads are good for impressions and top-of-funnel goals.
There can also be other elements of your ad, like cards, and when users interact with these elements, you’re charged. But otherwise, if users skip your ad, you’re not charged.
These fall under the category of Video Ads, and also under TrueView In-Stream Ads; the only difference with this type of ad is you just can’t skip them. They are also known as pre-roll ads, because they can show up before a video starts, but they can also appear in the middle (mid-roll), or at the end of a video (post-roll), just like the Skippable ads.
These videos need to be a maximum of 15 seconds, and users are forced to watch these videos all the way through. TrueView In-Stream Non-Skippable Ads have more engagement – but, people also bounce/abandon these videos the most.
However, these videos can have good ROI if you’ve targeted properly with correct keyword or placement.
The CPC model so make the click worth it (i.e. use a CTA).
Bumper Ads are 6 second videos for top-of-funnel awareness and brand lift.
These are the only Video Ads paid for by CPM (or cost per impression). Since these ads are so quick, you’ll have to be very targeted about how you want to use them.
They also will be watched. Before the viewer has a chance to be annoyed that there is no ‘skip ad’ button, the video is over, and you will have made an impression with the six-second story of your choice. In that regard, these ads can be quite useful.
There are examples of success on these ads, and checking out what works for other companies can help you hone in on what could work for you.
YouTube Cards are a great way to enhance your YouTube video ads by adding more engagement opportunities – such as a poll, a link to a website, to drive donations, or to promote a playlist or other channel.
These are a great opportunity to plug in a CTA at the right moment in the video.
If you own a channel with a Live Stream going, you can run In-Stream Ads for your Live Stream – if you can hire an encoding company to do the heavy lifting of setting up and monitoring the ads and the live stream. Self-service live streams are not allowed for the ad format. The encoding company has to have access to your YouTube account prior to the live stream.
Within Google Ads, you’ll first want to form a campaign and choose a campaign type.
App promotion and sales are the only campaign types that you can’t use for video ads.
You’ll fill out the typical campaign attributes, like scheduling, budget, and bidding strategy (CPM cost per thousand impressions or CPV cost per view). You’ll want to use cost per view unless you have a really good understanding of how CPM helps you reach your campaign goals.
You’ll also want to choose which networks you want your videos to be shown on.
I would pass on the Display Network if you’re just starting out and want to focus on just YouTube. We’ve gone over Discovery Ads and In-Stream Ads, so you have an idea of where you want your videos to show.
You can choose ‘inventory type’ now as well. Although ‘standard’ is recommended, I would start off ‘limited’ at first. Anytime Google recommends anything, red flags go up; there is, afterall, some conflict of interest.
Finally, you’ll choose the targeting, and you’ll want to approach it the way you would any PPC campaign. The more granular you can get with each ad group or campaign, the better you’ll be able to see which attributes perform to optimize your campaigns later.
To begin, it is good to form various campaigns using either keywords, topics, or placements. The demographic information should be the same for all the campaigns, unless you don’t know who your target audience is.
Speaking of audiences…the audiences available are similar to the ones that you would use for a typical Google Ads campaign: Custom affinity/affinity, which is based on a user’s interests.
You have In-market, Life Events, and Custom Intent – which is Google’s algorithm pinpointing qualified users based on their behavior.
And finally, you have Remarketing and Similar Audiences. Remarketing might be better for TrueView In-Stream Non-Skippable Ads, because they are further down the customer sales funnel.
Placements are where you can really narrow down a campaign’s target. If you know what your audience likes on YouTube, you can target a specific channel (or even a specific YouTube video) that shows your ad.
It doesn’t get more specific than that, and you’ll know exactly where you’re spending your money, so it is worthwhile to spend some time understanding what your target audience likes on YouTube.
Do some YouTube keyword sleuthing on your own. While the Keyword Planner is always a great tool to find keyword ideas, you can also just go to the YouTube website and search different topics and keywords and use the suggestions to help you discover keywords and video content that is popular.
Focus on educational, interesting, humorous videos that will delight your user. How-to videos are growing 70% year-over-year.
Video marketing is on the rise, but the videos aren’t just viral videos that many people would think are the most popular. The explosion of video content includes more run-of-the-mill videos like:
Consider what works best for your industry based on thorough research about your buyer journey in relation to video content.
Keyword research on YouTube taps into what videos are popular and helps you with targeting by placement or keyword, but it also helps you brainstorm ideas for new video content.
Remember, the video is the ad, and ad copy – as we all know – can always be improved by constant testing and tweaking. We all know the saying ‘good marketers copy, great ones steal’ – but what works is simply what works, and you’ll want to know which ads/videos work so you can improve your own.
If your competitors do it first, so what? As long as you don’t copy them outright, you can use aspects of their content to improve your videos.
You’ll want some order to how you structure campaigns and ad groups. You can have many ad groups within a campaign, with each ad group differing by targeting, video ad, or some other variable.
Split campaigns similarly in that you want campaigns to have a distinct goal or purpose. Maybe each campaign promotes a different product, or takes users to a different landing page with an associated CTA. Whatever the difference is, just make sure the segments make sense for your business.
You’ll want the campaigns and ad groups segmented and named appropriately. Always name your campaigns and ad groups with as much detail as possible so you can refer back to what you were doing in each particular segment. You’ll be testing different advertising variables after you get up and running, and if your naming conventions are easy to understand and organized, it will help you immensely.
Just like other PPC ads, you want as seamless a transition as possible from your YouTube Ad and your landing page. You want the call-to-action (CTA) on your ad to be clear, and the same CTA once the user gets to the landing page.
Keeping the online message symmetrical allows the user to be less confused, and more likely to perform the action you want them to perform after they click on your ad – which is what you want!
Like all landing pages, you’ll want a solid headline that matches with the CTA.
Explain your unique selling point and/or benefits quickly (and in bulleted form if possible), and in a format that is easy to understand by your viewers.
Testimonials are huge. Users want to be able to see companies you worked for, and where you’ve been seen. This means that you’re at least a minimum level of usefulness, which also means the user has more reason to trust you. The more a user trusts you, the more likely they are to do whatever action it is that you’re calling them to do.
Don’t include navigation or any other links that take the user away from the landing page. If you have a bunch of actions and ways for the user to interact with your page, you’re just adding more variables and reasons why a user didn’t convert. This can conflict with how you measure the effectiveness of your landing page.
You want to know that the user did or did not convert – that’s it. If there was an enticing link on the page, and they still did something valuable on the site when they clicked away from the landing page, that’s great, but how do you measure that type of activity? What if they clicked around to 3 different pages after you led them away from the landing page, what then?
This is also why you want to be clear about a CTA, and stick with it. Again, don’t confuse the user, and make the conversion as easy as possible.
Know your buyer persona, and target your videos on social media using the right attributes to gain views. The more views your video has prior to advertising on Google, the better chance they have of being viewed all the way through on YouTube. It’s a domino effect.
Relevance is important, as seen in relevance scores across all platforms – including Google. If you are targeting a specific keyword, and your video speaks to that keyword, and it has the views that show other people are interested, it has a good chance of being viewed and clicked-on ahead of organic search results. Indeed, your Video Ad is listed at the top of the search results to give you the best chance of getting clicked over videos that weren’t promoted.
There are an endless number of metrics that you can track for your YouTube video advertising campaigns, but you’ll want to track the most important metrics to save time. What are the most important YouTube metrics? There are a lot of metrics that you can get lost in.
Watch time is a metric that measures how long users viewed your video. Pretty simple. It makes sense that the longer the watch time, the better. Gaining insight into how long users view your video can highlight where a video could improve. And you’ll want to improve watch time as it is one of Google’s top ranking factors for videos.
By ranking high within Google’s video ranking system, Google will recommend your videos more for relevant searches, without you needing to promote or pay for the clicks. This is huge, and is the equivalent of having YouTube SEO juice. Thus, the organic gains from improving watch time alone make it worth it to pay attention to this metric.
Audience retention is another way to monitor the watch time. You can figure out absolute retention or relative retention (how your video compares to the average video in your sector).
Via Social Examiner
Views are also a metric that publishers pay attention to, but this metric is not very insightful. This is just a general metric that lets you know if people are even interested in clicking on or watching your video, but that decision tells you nothing about the quality of the video.
View rate is a good metric to look out for because it shows you views in relation to all the users that were exposed to the video. If you have a low view rate, maybe your content doesn’t match up with your target audience.
Sometimes the metrics don’t coincide with each other. There are also a few cases where view rate is high but conversions are low. You could just be giving away too much information, which lowers curiosity on the user’s end, or there could be something wrong with the saliency of your CTA. Analyzing these metrics and asking questions that don’t assume a lot will help you figure out possible solutions.
Demographics and devices metrics can be interesting if you did not target in these areas to begin with and there are any fluctuations in performance within these categories. If you’ve already segmented a target based on these criteria, then these metrics should only confirm the accuracy of Google’s targeting.
Subscribers, likes/dislikes, and comments are good for measuring engagement. If you have videos that are providing good engagement, you’ll want to note the qualities that make these videos so successful and replicate the content.
Traffic sources and referrals are good to find out how people are finding out about your video. If you’ve just started out with advertising, most users should be coming in from your ad campaign, but verify and see if there aren’t other ways users are finding your video. You can find these out with help from your Google Analytics account.
From here, you can see how your YouTube videos and advertising efforts drive traffic and engagement on your website. The more you learn about how YouTube users interact with your site, the better you can cater the right content to them at the right time in their buyer journey.
You can add clickable links or annotations to your website throughout your video to drive action during key moments within the video
If you have a Google Shopping campaign through the Google Merchant center, all you need is to connect your YouTube account with your Merchant center to start running Video Ads for specific products in your inventory. You can only use the TrueView In-Stream Ad format for Shopping campaigns, but you can have up to 6 cards show specific products linked to product pages on your website.
These ads are shown dynamically, pulling information directly from your product data feed.
You can even expand the reach of your products to videos other than your own.
As you can see, while YouTube ads can require a learning curve to get past the initial jargon, they can be super helpful in driving traffic and conversions on your website. And online videos are growing fast. With so many people watching, it’s just a matter of whether you take advantage of this potentially targeted audience, or if your competitors hoard the advantage for themselves. Happy YouTube advertising!