YouTube users spend an average of 19 minutes per day on the platform. That’s like, 120 hours per year. And with it being the second-largest search engine in the world, you can bet that YouTube advertising will give you a hefty reach (to be exact, 32.4% of the total population and 51.8% of internet users).
In this beginner’s guide to YouTube advertising, you’ll get everything you need to create a profitable ad campaign on this massive platform.
In this year’s Google Marketing Live, Google placed heavy emphasis on visual content and even announced the new feature of advertising in YouTube Shorts. Let’s take a look at some more benefits to advertising on YouTube.
Just as with Google Ads costs, this varies based on your business and goals, but here are some general benchmarks for YouTube advertising costs from LOCALiQ:
For more help with YouTube advertising costs, we’ve got six tips for more profitable YouTube advertising.
When you think of a “YouTube ad,” you’re probably thinking of a 30-second in-stream skippable ad. But you probably didn’t know it’s called that! There are many different YouTube ad formats available to achieve different goals, and of course, they’re constantly changing. Currently, there are six YouTube ad formats:
Here are some of the key considerations to make when choosing your YouTube ad format:
It’s really important to understand the difference between a “view” and an “impression” for YouTube ads.
Remember this when building your YouTube ads strategy! You cannot remarket to people who have seen a bumper ad, since bumper ads are non-skippable and therefore only serve impressions, not views. But, you can serve bumper ads to people on your remarketing list.
And don’t forget to monitor these four underrated YouTube metrics:
Before launching your YouTube campaign, decide whether you’re going to focus on awareness, consideration, or conversion.This will impact what format and bid strategy you pick later. For example, an awareness campaign’s goal may be to get as many impressions as possible, so you would bid for impressions, whereas a conversion campaign’s goal may be online sales, so you would bid for conversions. We’ll cover this in greater detail later. That said, let’s go through the steps.
Open up your Google Ads manager and select New Campaign. When prompted, I always choose “Create a campaign without a goal’s guidance.”
For your campaign type, select Video.
For your campaign subtype, choose the appropriate option based on the goal of your ad your objective and format. If you’re not sure, you’re probably going to want a Custom video campaign or a Drive conversions campaign. You can always come back and change this later.
Depending on which campaign subtype you chose, you will only have one or two options. In this example, with a Custom video campaign, the bid options are Maximum CPV (cost per view) or Target CPM (cost per thousand impressions).
Bidding: if you thought that Google Ads bidding was complicated, meet YouTube ads bidding. Each format has its own bidding requirements, which will be made available (or unavailable) to you based on the format you choose. We’The potential options are:
If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like Search partners and Display Network in your Search campaigns, you’ll want to deselect Video partners on the Display network. Note that with certain campaign subtypes or even certain bid strategies, you may not be allowed to deselect some of these options.
Most advertisers will be fine with Standard inventory. If you are very concerned about serving ads next to potentially sensitive content, you can choose Limited inventory. If you don’t care where your ads show, choose Expanded inventory – this will open you up to many additional placements, potentially at a lower cost due to lower competition.
More context exclusions: even if you choose Standard inventory, you have the option to exclude certain types of content. I generally exclude Live streaming videos and embedded videos, but that’s personal preference rather than best practice. Again, if you’re concerned about what kind of content your ads show next to, exclude Content not yet labeled, DL-MA and potentially even DL-T.
This part of the YouTube campaign setup is often overlooked. Don’t forget to add related videos from your channel to increase engagement, and if you have a Google Merchant Center product feed connected to Google Ads, be sure to opt in here so that you can show product cards with your video ads. If you did want to fiddle with the finicky things like frequency capping or ad scheduling, you’ll find those hiding under “Additional settings.”
YouTube campaigns give advertisers the full fleet of targeting options in Google Ads. Every type of audience is available to you, plus a wide range of contextual options.
When you select your campaign targeting, you’ll notice two main options: people vs. content.
I generally prefer to use people targeting rather than content targeting, but you can choose from a wide range of options and even layer them together to narrow your reach. For example, you could target people who are in-market for Child Car Seats, only on content related to Child Car Seats.
Time to create that ad. Note that in order to use a YouTube video for your video ad, it must be uploaded to YouTube. Don’t want your ad to show up on your channel? No problem, simply set it to “Unlisted” instead of “Public.” Paste the URL for your YouTube ad here, and then options will appear depending on your campaign subtype. In this example, we can create a skippable in-stream ad (the “normal” kind) or an in-feed video ad (the kind that shows a thumbnail and description)
Set your bid, and then you’re ready to launch! In this case, I’d usually start with a Max CPV bid of $0.05 to $0.10.
How do you pick the right metrics for your campaign? First, remember if your objective is Awareness, Consideration or Conversion. If your YouTube campaign has been built around generating awareness, it won’t make sense to measure success based on the conversion rate!
As a general rule of thumb for any Google Ads campaign, I like to pick one reach metric (impressions, views, clicks, etc.) and one efficiency metric (cost per view, view-through rate, click-through rate, etc.).
If you have a dedicated Google representative and you’re spending five to six figures on YouTube Ads each month, ask them about running a Brand Lift study. This is a special survey that Google can run for you to evaluate how well your campaign drives key outcomes like brand awareness, ad recall, search lift or purchase intent. It does require a minimum investment over a set time period, which varies by location, so ask your rep for current program requirements.
The most important component of the ad is neither the targeting, nor the format, nor the bidding—it’s the creative!
YouTube developed a framework called ABCD, which is a data-backed guide for creating effective video ads. Great YouTube ads have a few things in common:
To see examples of some of the most successful YouTube ads, check out the YouTube ads leaderboard for inspiration. You might also want to browse through our tips for creating more memorable YouTube ads.
Jyll Saskin Gales is a digital marketing consultant, coach and teacher. She worked at Google for 6 years, and is now a Marketing Mentor at The DMZ and Elevate, a Digital Marketing Instructor at Jelly Academy and her own Google Ads course, and a corporate trainer for businesses across industries and sizes. You can find her on TikTok @the_google_pro and Twitter @jyllsaskingales.
See other posts by Jyll Saskin Gales
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