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The Ultimate Guide To Successful Youtube Advertising

Barbara Harris
YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world with over 800 million monthly unique users watching over 4 billion videos daily, it’s the equivalent of nearly half the planet’s population watching a video on YouTube every day.

The growing usage of YouTube is not surprising, as it acts as a video hub for content on every subject known to mankind, be it music, pop culture, cute cats, e-learning and much more.
So we know that YouTube is a media empire, but is advertising on YouTube actually effective? If you use it like you’re supposed to, the answer is Yes!

YouTube is not nearly as saturated by advertisers as Google AdWords. Because the competition is much less prevalent on YouTube, you could reach your target audience even when they’re searching for extremely popular/generic terms. Even if you’re a small time business you will be able to reach your target audience, get a respectable amount of impressions and clicks and pay a fraction of the price.

While it’s true that YouTube advertising wasn’t all the rage when it was first launched, it all took a turn for the better in December 2010, when Google introduced “TrueView ads”.

What Are TrueView Ads?

First and foremost, a short clip:


TrueView’s functionality creates a win-win situation.
The main feature which gives TrueView its’ value is the fact that you only pay when people choose to watch the video. This way you don’t waste your money on impressions that don’t result in viewers watching it.

There are 4 formats of TrueView ads:

In search 21. In-Search

The In-search ads will show up when you’re searching for a certain video. The ad will appear at the top of the search list, placed above the relevant videos you have searched for. This ad might be a bit more expensive than the others because this ad tends to get the best CTR, it’s the only format that finds users while they’re searching (and not whilst watching other videos).

In display ad2. In-Display

The In-display ads are the bread & butter of YouTube advertisement. There are two kinds of “In-display“ ads:

  1. The first kind will be placed at the side of the video (Next to the “Suggested Videos” section)
  2. The second kind will pop up while you’re watching the video, placed at the bottom.

 In slate ad3. In-Slate

The In-slate ads show up before YouTube partner videos that are longer than 10 minutes. The viewer is presented with two choices, either watch one of three types of ads or skip the ad. The skipping choice leads to commercial breaks at regular intervals.

In stream ad 24. In-Stream

The In-stream ads appear once you select a video you want to watch. These ads present the viewer with the option to skip after 5 seconds, however if the viewer is interested the ad will play out to the end. This ad is mostly used when people want to give a certain product instant large-scale exposure.

Now that you know your weapons, let’s go straight into the “How” and get some work done.

 Creating Your First Video Campaign

Just a small note: this is a step by step guide that will take you through creating a video ad campaign on Google AdWords. I recommend opening up an extra tab and taking my hand through this process of creating your first campaign.

We’ll start by creating your Adwords account and linking it with your YouTube account.
To open an AdWords Account go to: http://www.google.com/ads/video/

Open an account by clicking on: Get started button 21  and follow the instructions to the letter.

If you already have an AdWords account simply navigate to “New Campaign” -> “Type” tab -> choose “Online video“):

If you have an account 21

Once you have an account, you should link it to your YouTube account.
I recommend you do it is because it’s the only way you can advertise your own YouTube videos (that’s probably the reason you came here in the first place).

How to link your AdWords and YouTube accounts:

At the left side of your “Campaigns” you’ll have a panel.
Below “Shared library” you’ll see “Linked YouTube accounts” or “Link your YouTube account“.

When the page opens, just go ahead and click: Link accounts 1 21

Once you click that you’ll have to log into your YouTube account (or create one) and Voilà! You’re done. (Linking your YouTube and Google AdWords accounts gives you other extra options which I’ll discuss later down this post)

 Campaign Settings

After you’re done linking the accounts, go to “Campaigns” and click the new campaign

Then choose the “Online video” option.
As you can see, the page is divided into 4 main parts, let’s get acquainted with them:

General – Name, Budget & Delivery Method

General 21

Here you’ll decide on one of the most important aspects of your campaign (besides choosing a kick-ass name) – your budget.

You’ll have to decide how much money you’re willing to spend on advertising, on a daily basis. I’ve got to stress one thing: the figure you enter will represent the average amount spent over a month, the amount spent daily will not be divided evenly.

Choosing a delivery method:

  1. Standard method Your ad impressions will be divided evenly throughout the day. This option will ensure you don’t reach your daily budget early in the day.
    I recommend starting out with this method, especially if you’re running on a limited-budget campaign.
  2. Accelerated method – Ads show as soon as reasonably possible. Meaning that your ad will be shown as much times as possible starting at the beginning of each day. If your campaign has a limited budget your ad might stop showing early during the day (when the daily budget is depleted) and will only continue showing on next day’s cycle.
    This method is recommended to use after you’ve optimized your campaigns, ads, and scheduling hours, and would like to get more impressions and scale up.

Locations and Languages

Location and language 21

Locations – Choose the geographical location of users you want your ads to appear in.
You can also choose to exclude locations that you don’t want your ad to show in.
Locations are primarily detected by Google using the user’s IP address.

Languages – Here’s how Google explains what it considers as a users language:
“To decide where to show your ads, AdWords looks at a user’s Google language setting or the language of the user’s search query, currently viewed page, or recently viewed pages on the Google Display Network (GDN)”

What this means for you is that you should target any language that might be the language setting of your target audience.
For example, if your location target is set to the United States, I would consider adding “Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, etc..” as additional languages.

 Select a Video

Ad 1 2

In this section you’ll be able to choose the YouTube videos you want to promote.

By pressing “Select a video” you get access to every video that’s currently on YouTube. Once you select a video you want to promote (doesn’t have to be your own video, but I assume that’s what you’re here for), you can choose the format you want your ad to show (any of the 4 types of ads I wrote about in the previous section) and give it a Headline, Description, Thumbnail and other various attributes.

You’ll also have the option to input a Display and Destination URL’s, choose the YouTube landing page (I suggest opting for the Channel page if you have one) and use Companion banner.

Companion 2 248x300A companion banner is a banner that works in-sync with the in-video overlay.

Basically it’s an additional banner in these two sizes 300×250 or 300×60. These show up on the right side or inside the video.
This banner can attract users attention and entice them to click to learn more.

Advanced Settings

This section is divided into 3 sub options.

  1. Schedule – Decide when you want your ads to show up (which days, which hours).
  2. Ad Delivery – Here you decide how the impressions of your ads will be divided between the different ads in each Ad group.
A. Optimize for views this option will give most of the impressions to the ad with the highest CTR, regardless of any conversion metrics.

B. Optimize for conversions  this option will give most of the impressions to the ad expected to generate the most conversions. Calculated like so: Conversions divided by Impressions (that way both CTR and Conversion rate are taken into effect).
Important Note – you must have at least 30 conversions before you can use this feature)

C. Rotate evenly; the name does exactly as it suggests. It will show your ads evenly for each enabled ad-format you choose.(the aforementioned 4 TrueView formats).
Opting for this method will show your ads evenly per format, per ad.
This means that if you have a few ads in 1 type of format, they will get equal number of impressions. Same goes for ad formats, if you have 1 ad in 3 different formats, each format will get an equal number of impressions.
This method is recommended for advertisers who want full control over the ad-rotation, which means you’ll have to analyze and optimize the ads yourself.

Frequency capping – Enables you to set a cap on the number of impressions a unique user will see in a given time period (day/week/month)
Whether you prefer to spam people a gazillion times a day (within reason, mind you) or go easy on them and set it to 10 impressions a day for each unique user.
(note that this does not affect the in-search format)

  1. Device targeting – This option will allow you to choose on which devices your ad will show up on.
Device Targeting 2

Although it’s recommended for new advertisers to use the “All available devices” options, I would recommend to examine each case on it’s own.

For example, If the landing page of your ad is not compatible with smart phones, you may want to disable your ad from showing on mobile devices and thus save yourself from unwanted clicks. You wouldn’t want your potential clients watching the ad only to find themselves unable to view your product, would you?

Congrats! Now that you’re done fiddling with the advanced setting you’ve actually completed the core of your advertisement campaign (don’t forget to choose an awesome name!) and we’ll be ready to move onto the next step.

Press : Save and continue  .

Bidding &Targeting

Here you’ll select target audience and decide on bidding expenses.
This part is divided into three main sections:


Setting a bid means deciding on theBiding 2 21 the highest price you’re willing to pay for a each view of your video.

You can also “Customize bids per format” so you’re able to choose a different bid for each type of ad.
I would recommend starting out with the same bid, and changing it later as you see the results for each of the ad types.

Once you set your bid you’ll see performance predictions(on the right side), according to your campaigns’ settings.

Target People Watching Content

In this section you control the targeting of ads that’ll show on web pages and videos.

1. Demographic
Here you’ll be able to choose the ages and gender of people you’d like to be exposed to your ads. Since this is monitored by Google+, I recommend keeping the default setting “All Genders, All Ages”

2. Viewing content in (aka Topics)
Here you can target videos within the huge assortment of topics and sub topics available. A “topic” means a specific category of videos users may be inclined to watch. For example, if you want your target audience to be spoiled teenager girls who spend most of their day searching for celebrity news and gossip, you’ll probably want to choose the:

Arts & Entertainment” -> “Celebrities & Entertainment news” pack.

I recommend choosing as many topics as possible (within reason and considering your daily budget). Try them out, and once you’ve collected enough data, pause the under-performing one’s and stick with the winners.

By what people watch

3. User interested in:
This method seems similar to the aforementioned one but works in a slightly different way. Here you’ll be able to choose your target audience by their interests and previous “viewing behavior“.

For example, if you’re targeting “Sports” and Google knows a certain person likes Fantasy Football (many fantasy football videos in his viewing history) then this person would be a likely candidate for viewing your ad, even if at that moment he’s watching a Justin Bieber video.

Targeting “Interests” can be very powerful. I suggest separating them into a different campaign in order to have full control of the cost and effectiveness.

 Advanced options:

1. Show ads on specific content (aka Placements):
With this tool you can be very specific and precise about where you want your ads to pop. You will have 3 options at your disposal:

  1. Targeting a specific placement on the GDN.
  2. Targeting a specific video on YouTube
  3. Targeting a channel on YouTube.

Specific content 2

Tip: Target your competitor’s videos and/or YouTube channel.

2. Remarket to viewers:
Remarketing is the ability to create a list of people who visited your website (or a specific page on it) and then target that list.

This is a very powerful targeting method since you already know what people were interested in (e.g. Users who visited a specific product page on your site), and you have the ability to decide which video ad they’ll see (a video about that specific product).
This subject will be analyzed further later on.

3. Specify content keywords
This option enables you to choose keywords that will affect the the placements of your ad. This applies only to YouTube Videos and Google display network.

When choosing this method it’s important to choose tightly grouped themes of keywords that represents a concept.
Using tight groups of keywords helps Google understand the topic you’re interested in targeting, and in return your ad will show up on relevant pages on the GDN.

Example of a tight set of keywords (5-15 keywords):
Weight loss plans, Weight loss diet plan, Free weight loss plans, Healthy weight loss plan, Best weight loss plans, etc.

Example of a non-tight set:
Weight loss, Training, Diet, Sports, Healthy food.

Target People Who Are Searching

In here you control the keywords that will trigger your ad on the search result page.

If you’ve chosen any topics or interests in the previous section, YouTube will display a list of suggested keywords that are popular with the audience you’ve chosen to target. You can also insert your own list of relevant keywords.

Keywords 2

As opposed to the content keywords, where you want to have a tight group of keywords all targeting the same keyword concept, in here you can allow yourself to mix it up by putting in different keywords.
The reason is that in search (as opposed to content) each keyword is a standalone unit, and is not affected by the other keywords in the group.

Once you’ve made up your mind and decided on your selected audience, you’re officially done with your first campaign (!).
Wasn’t so hard now, was it?

What do you do from here?

Campaign Structure & Optimization Tips

The main panel of your campaign consists of 4 tabs:

4 campaign tabs

1. Ads – view all the active ads in your campaign.
You’re able to add new ads:

Ads tab 1

You can preview your ads and see how they would look like in the 4 different ad formats:

Ads tab 2

2. Videos – view all the videos you currently have enlisted to your campaign. Here you can see statistics that entail how long people watch the video including the specific time-stamp when they stopped watching and last but not least call-to-action overlay details. Note that this data is aggregated from all your target groups.

3. Targets – view the target groups you’ve created and add new target groups (the same process you went through when creating your first target group).
Targets are the equivalent of ad-groups in a regular AdWords campaign, with one significant difference, video ads are placed in the campaign level (and not ad-group level like in an AdWords campaign), and for each target group you create, you have the option to choose which ad you want to enable.

4. Settings – control the settings of your campaign; name, budget, delivery method, ad rotation, etc…

Once you know your way around the main panel, you should start making your campaign bigger and better. At the moment, your campaign is still in its diapers and consists of one ad with one target. To make your account more comprehensive you’ll have to start adding more campaigns, target groups, ads and videos.

How do you go about expanding your campaign?

The first thing you want to do is expand your targeting, thus expanding your reach.
To do so you’ll need to come up with as many relevant target groups as you can. They can be content keywords, YouTube keywords, new topics or sub-topics, different interest categories, or specific placements or videos.

Then what you do is create a separate target group for each of your targeting methods, it would make it that much easier for you to track and analyze later, since you will see all the target groups in one place.

Another reason is this, when combining multiple targeting methods in a single target group, YouTube will apply all of them. Meaning that if you target certain keywords, a topic, and demographics, your ad will show only to people who meet all these requirements.

Example of a campaign’s target group structure:

  1. Target Group #1 – Topic
  2. Target Group #2 – Youtube Keywords
  3. Target Group #3 – Interest X
  4. Target Group #4 – Interest Y
  5. Target Group #5 – Remarketing List
It’s a classic numbers game, the more different target groups you test, the better are your chances to find the winner that’ll send a massive stream of cheap video traffic.

With that said, do not overload a $10/day campaign with 20 different targeting options. If you do so it will take ages until each of the target groups will receive enough data for you to make a statistically valid decision.
Your goal should be to receive a decent amount of data (impressions, clicks, views, etc) for each of your target groups in the shortest amount of time possible, as a rule of thumb I would recommend aiming for at least 200 views a week for each target group.

Once you gather enough data you’ll need to decide where a bid change is necessary or where immediate termination is required. Once you paused the “losers”, go on and create new target groups.

Follow this method, and you’re well on your way to become a YouTube advertising master.

When should you create a new campaign?

There are some cases in which you’d need to create a new campaign in order to achieve maximum results. Reasons to open a new campaign include (but aren’t limited to):

  1. When you want to control the budget of a specific targeting method or a video.
  2. When you want to target more than one country (it’s possible to do it in the same campaign but not recommended)
  3. When you want to promote a few different products, each product should have it’s own campaign (which will also allow you to control the budget)
The most popular scenario in which you’d want to open a new campaign is when one of your targeting methods is receiving significantly more clicks than the other targeting options. This targeting method will consume most (or even all) of your daily budget, and won’t give the others enough resources to prove themselves worthy.

When this happens you should create a new campaign only for this targeting method, and at the same time pause it from running in the original campaign.
That way you have full control over its budget, and your other targeting methods will now be “forced” to run in order to reach their daily budget in the original campaign.

 Advantages of Linking Google AdWords With YouTube

Linking your AdWords and YouTube accounts gives you 3 super important perks:

  1. Data and metrics 
    You’ll be able to get thorough information and analytics on how many people have watched your video ads.
  2. CTA Overlay (Call-to-action overlay)
    Free tool, a great advertising tool which might help you bring more traffic to your website.
  3. Remarketing 
    Another very important tool you’ll have to use to make your ads as relevant as possible. You’ll be able to create lists of users that have already watched some of your ad or videos. With this tool you’ll be able to reach the right audience.
In-depth explanations:

 Data and Metrics

Once you have your campaign running you’ll probably want to know what’s going on with it; How many clicks you get on every ad, how much it costs you, how many views you get, etc.
When you go to your Ads section in the Google AdWords main panel you’ll see something that resembles this:

StatisticsAs you can see it’s divided into 6 different columns:

Impressions – Divided to two tabs, the video column shows all the impressions your video got when it was playing at the beginning of another video. The thumb column shows the rest of the impressions (in search results page, and featured videos that shows on the right side when other videos are playing)

Views – Will show you how many times your video was actually watched by a viewer.

Avg.CPV – Will show you the average cost per view for that ad.

View Rate – Views divided by the sum of impressions.

Total cost – Your total spent on video views.

Website clicks – Will show you how many people clicked your Call-to-action overlay (which led them to your website)

CTA Overlay (call-to-action)

Google offers you the use of a very powerful feature to make your advertisement campaign even better.
This feature is called “Call-to-action” overlay, or CTA overlay.
Note that this feature would only be available after you’ve linked your AdWords and YouTube accounts.

To better understand CTA overlay, watch this video:


The CTA overlay is a valuable tool and every advertiser should take advantage of it.
The reason is, this is your way to bring viewers to your landing page. That’s why you’re advertising, isn’t it?

How do you make a CTA-Overlay?

It’s important to mention you can only make a CTA overlay on an ad you own.
In other words, you can only use the CTA option on videos you uploaded into your own YouTube account or videos you have administrative rights to.

In your Ads section in the main campaign panel, find the ad you want (and own) and press the “+ Add call-to-action overlay“.

CTA1 2

Once you click that, a pop-up will appear.
Here you’ll be able to make your CTA from scratch (Don’t forget to add your relevant website’s page and a nice image).

CTA2 2


First of all, what is Remarketing?

Remarketing is the act of creating lists of users who visited your website or your YouTube channel (using cookies), and advertising to them, regardless of what content or videos they are watching at the moment.

Most of you have probably experienced it on the user’s end. You visit a certain website, and from that moment on you see their ads everywhere and (almost) all the time.
If the advertiser is careless it can be a pervasive experience, but when done well this method of marketing has been proven to bring advertisers great results.

There are 2 main types of remarketing lists:

1. People who visited a page on your website.
2. People who watched your video, or subscribed to your channel on YouTube.

Creating remarketing lists of people who visited your site is a very easy process, but it will require adding a code to your site. Here’s a step by step guide on how to do it.

YouTube Remarketing Lists:

Once you link your YouTube and Google AdWords account, you’d be able to create remarketing lists for any of the following:
1. People who watched your videos.
2. People who visited, subscribed or unsubscribed to your YouTube channel.
3. People who Liked, Disliked, Commented or shared any of your videos.
4. People who saw your video as an In-Stream ad.

To create a YouTube Remarketing list simply navigate to:
Shared Library > Video Remarketing.

And select  download

Let’s go over the fields:

Remarketing 2

List type – Choose the type of remarketing list you want to create according to the above listed options.

Select Channel – Choose the channel and/or video you will use for your remarketing list.
You can only choose one channel per list, but you can combine lists in the Standard AdWords remarketing view (outside of AdWords for video).

List Name – Give the list a descriptive name.

Membership duration – How long will users be active in the list. On one hand you want to have them for a long period of time, on the other hand you should take into consideration that the longer it’s been since they’ve seen your videos the lower the odds of them interacting with your ads. As a rule of thumb, the recommend period is around 180 days.

Status – Open or closed. That’s an easy one… 🙂

Initial list size – You can choose between opting to include users that have met your criteria in the last 30 days. Or create a list from scratch.
Unless you have a clear cut reason why not to include past visitors, go ahead and include them. It will save you time, and you might be able to start your remarketing campaign immediately (rather than waiting for your list to meet the 100 users threshold)

Best practices for using Youtube Remarketing Lists

Following the same methodology I presented earlier in this post, you should create separate target group for each of the list types you wish to target.

The first ones I recommend you try are:

1. Viewed any video from your channel
2. Visited a channel page
3. Subscribed to a channel page
4. Viewed certain videos
5. Viewed certain videos as ads

All of those are supposed to generate a decent reach, and they all indicate some sort of interest in what you have to offer.
In each target group it’s best to have at least two ads (Anybody mention AdWords practices?) for testing and optimizing. If you only have one video, you can test different thumb images, or different ad text.

It’s advisable for beginner advertisers not to combine Remarketing with other targeting methods. In theory, you have the option to blend your remarketing list with any of YouTube’s targeting methods, such as Topics, Interests, Keywords, etc. However, this isn’t recommended for those new to advertising.

As I’ve mentioned before, if your target group will contain multiple targeting methods (remarketing and others) your ad will only show to users who meet the criteria.
That’s why I said “In theory”. In most cases it’s recommended to use only the remarketing list in your ad-group, and to enable all TrueView formats in order to target a much broader audience.

This concludes our magical quest together, and by now you should have a campaign live and ready to rock.

Let’s recap our journey

  1. You can let go of my hand now.
  2. You should spend at least a portion of your marketing $ in YouTube. Try it out.
  3. The 4 types of TrueView ads are: In-Stream, In-Slate, In-Display, In-Search.
  4. How to link your AdWords and YouTube accounts.
  5. Campaign settings overhaul.
  6. How to find your target audience using Keywords, Topics, Interests, Placements and remarketing lists.
  7. Setting up your Bids.
  8. Campaign structure introduction.
  9. Ongoing optimization tips
  10. Advantages of Linking AdWords and YouTube accounts.
Well, this is it folks, hopefully I’ve managed to make launching your first YouTube advertising campaign a comfortable experience for you first timers, and perhaps even taught a couple of new tricks to you veterans out there.

Feel free to share you opinions with us; Also, if you were experiencing any difficulties, let us know. We’ll be more than glad to help.

Special thanks to Peter Tsykounov for his tremendous help compiling the content for this article.

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