How to Advertise on YouTube in 6 Easy Steps

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world behind Google, with over 1 billion users globally. That’s one third of internet users worldwide. So it’s no great surprise that almost, if not all of the biggest brands in the world are advertising on YouTube. If you’re not already doing so too, the simple answer is that you should be.

YouTube and online videos continue to grow year on year, and there’s no sign of a downward trend anytime soon. By 2020, 80% of internet bandwidth is expected to be video. If you’ve not yet got a YouTube channel set up for your brand, we can’t stress enough the importance to get one set up and start advertising on YouTube, as you’re being left behind.

Why should I be advertising with YouTube?

YouTube is a key channel to connect with your existing and potential customers. Regularly uploading content to your channel and promoting it via an ad campaign will help build brand awareness, influence consideration, drive action and grow loyalty, depending on what stage of the funnel your brand is in.

There’s no shortage of advertising space, with over 400 hours of content uploaded to YouTube every minute. With the right targeting methods applied to your campaign, there’s no need to worry about directly competing with huge brands.

I’ve set my channel up. What happens now?

Once you’ve got your channel set up, the next step is creating a video, or ideally, videos, and deciding on the formats.

The two most common types are TrueView in-stream, where your ad plays before, during or after a video someone has clicked to watch, and TrueView in-display, where your ad appears as a clickable link at the top of the suggestions list.

TrueView in-stream ads are skippable after 5 seconds and you’re only charged for the view once a user has watched 30 seconds, or the entire ad if it’s shorter; meaning those who have pressed ‘skip ad’ but viewed some part of it, won’t have cost you anything and your ad can be seen as free brand awareness.

In an ideal world, nobody would skip your ad, but in reality this will happen, no matter how engaging your content is. We would measure the success of the ad on view-rate and would consider 15% to be above average. That might not sound like a lot, but with attention spans waning, keeping 15% of users engaged for 30 seconds or the entirety of your ad is an indicator of a successful campaign.

Targeting mobile users

Over half of all views on YouTube are now coming from mobile devices, with people watching videos on the go in the mobile-first world; it therefore makes perfect sense to also have a campaign targeted towards mobile users.

Bumper ads are non-skippable ads, which, like in-stream ads, appear before a video and can be up to 6 seconds long. They use CPM (cost-per thousand impression) bidding, meaning you don’t pay every time a user views the ad and they’re another great way of building brand awareness, running alongside a TrueView in-stream or in-display campaign.

TrueView in-display, or discovery ads as they’re sometimes referred to, appear to the right of the video a user is watching, on the YouTube mobile homepage or in the YouTube search results. The user has to click on the thumbnail to start watching the video, and you’ll only be charged once they have done so, rather than paying for impressions like with Bumper ads.

Creating engaging video content

After you’ve decided on the format of your videos, the next step is to create and upload some engaging content for your customers. You need to decide if your video is going to be educational, entertaining or inspiring, or use a mixture of the three? You need to make sure the content fits in with your brand and it’s incredibly clear who you are. Something as simple as having your logo visible in the opening 2-3 seconds of the ad is vitally important, that way the user viewing your ad has to see your brand, even before they have the choice to skip.

Let’s say you’re a travel company who has just launched a new luxury package holiday to an exotic location that your competitors don’t offer and you want to set up a new campaign on YouTube to advertise this. The customer in this instance primarily needs to be inspired. They also need to be educated too if they are to eventually book the holiday, but at this initial touch point in the customer journey, they’d surely want to be watching an inspiring video of someone taking a leisurely swim in an infinity pool, overlooking a white sandy beach and a clear blue sea, rather than the finer details such as flight times, hotel availability, are they ATOL protected, what the local currency is, what the local delicacies are, being endlessly listed.

If you find that you’re struggling to get creative with content or your struggling to shoot the video, then you’re in luck. Google have recently set up a new service called Director onsite. You’ll have a number of calls with video specialists at YouTube to write a script for and plan the shoot. They’ll advise on the length of the ad, choose a video template and then, once complete, will travel to your location to do the shoot. Of course this comes at a cost, but all it requires is a £350 investment in a campaign over any period of time.

Now that you’ve decided on the format and content, the next stage is targeting and there is no shortage of options.

How to target the right YouTube users

Firstly, you can target users by demographic groups such as age, gender and even household income. With your new luxury travel ad, you can use your data from Google Analytics to identify who your customers are. If you find that it’s predominantly women aged 45-54 who book your luxury package holidays, then narrow your targeting so only these users can view your ad.

Interest targeting allows you to choose different audience categories from a list of topics that users are interested in, and target those users, even when they may be viewing a video on another topic. This is where your Google Analytics data is once again vital, looking at traffic and conversion data to decide which groups to target.

Affinity audience targeting allows you to target users who have a strong interest in relevant topics. If Google Analytics shows that your luxury travel customers may also be categorised as ‘foodies’ then utilise this data and target them on YouTube.

In-Market audience targeting allows you to target customers who are researching products and actively considering buying a product similar to yours. Again, use you Google Analytics data to target the most relevant audiences.

You can also target certain videos or channels if appropriate. If a certain travel vlogger is talking about your new destination, then it makes perfect sense to set up targeting around this video and some of their other videos, as well as their channel.

Just like on the Search & Display networks, you can target customers using keywords that are related to videos or channels. If you want to promote your new holiday destination, then you can simply add ‘luxury holidays to…’ as a keyword and your ad could appear before a video based on that particular holiday destination.

Similarly, topic targeting allows you to reach users who are viewing videos of a certain topic. Using the holiday example again, you can select ‘hotels and accommodation’ as a topic to target.

It’s important to remember not to make your targeting too narrow, as it would significantly limit the number of impressions your ad would receive. We would generally advise to only use two of the above per ad group in a campaign.

Don’t forget to capture users who have viewed your video in your remarketing audience lists. As soon as you’ve set up your YouTube channel, we highly recommend you link it up with your AdWords account. If you don’t, then you lose the ability to use remarketing on YouTube.

Setting up a remarketing list

There are various remarketing lists you can set up, such as anyone who has viewed one of your ads, anyone who has viewed your channel, etc, etc. It’s important to show fresh content to these users and to tell a story, moving them further down the funnel towards a purchase. With the luxury holiday example, for those users who have seen all of the initial ad, you now have the chance to remarket to them by offering a different video with more information, perhaps offering flight prices and hotel features. You can then set up a remarketing list on this video to show users a third ad, which contains even more information, and so on.

You can also use your site remarketing audience lists too. For instance, add an abandoned basket remarketing list to your video campaign to re-capture the attention of users who weren’t too sure about booking a holiday. Or you might want to remarket to users who have previously booked a holiday with you before to promote the new location. The importance of video is not to be ignored in the path to purchase; interestingly, 42% of online shoppers will use video for pre-purchase research.

If you’re an ecommerce business then you should already have Google Shopping campaigns, but you can also have Shopping listings in your YouTube ads. In your ad promoting your new little black dress, you can add a clickable shopping ad of the exact product or products featured in the ad to make your ad interactive and encourage users to simply make the purchase.

Measuring the success of your YouTube campaign

To measure the success of any campaign we would look at view rate as already touched upon, (number of times your ad is viewed divided by the number of impressions) and we generally see view rates above 15% in most of our campaigns, with some over 30%. Other metrics we would consider are views, impressions and cost per-view. As with any campaign we would also consider CTR (clickthrough rate) but with YouTube campaigns they’re generally a lot lower than Search campaigns, at anywhere between 0.1% and 0.4%.

Cost-per-views are often a lot cheaper than clicks on Search Network campaigns. As with Search campaigns where you set your maximum bid for a click, for video campaigns it’s max cost-per-view.  In the successful campaigns that we run, we’re seeing CPVs as low as £0.03-£0.04, so your budget will certainly stretch far.

We can also specifically measure what percentage of users viewed 25%, 50% or 75% of your video as well as the entirety, to give a full breakdown as to where users stopped watching. Further to this we can track earned actions, earned views are where a user watches other videos on your channel after viewing the ad, earned subscribers when a user subscribes to your channel after viewing an ad, as well as shares, likes and playlist additions.


There are almost endless possibilities when it comes to advertising on YouTube, with various targeting methods and ad formats and differing purposes, targeting users at different stages of the customer journey. But the one key thing to remember, in the words of Google, is to ‘BE THERE’ – because if you’re not, then you can be sure that other brands certainly will be.

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