Part 2: Paid Advertising Campaigns

In our last post, we covered setting up a branded YouTube channel. In part 2 of this series on getting started with YouTube, we’re breaking down the platform’s paid advertising opportunities.

With 2 billion monthly viewers, YouTube is the world’s second most popular website. It has the most reach of any video marketing platform. Coupled with its powerful targeting capabilities, this makes advertising on the platform a no brainer … except that it’s also not always the easiest ad interface to use.

That’s where we can help.  Below is a beginner’s guide to advertising on YouTube.

Set up a Google Ads account. YouTube advertising is done through your Google Ads account. If you’re already running paid search and display campaigns on Google, you can skip this step. If you’re not, your first step is to set up an account, which you can do here.

Upload your video to YouTube. Advertisements on YouTube must be hosted on YouTube and must be public. To do this you will need to create a brand YouTube channel if you don’t already have one. Then upload the video. If you don’t want your ad video to show on your channel, you can set it to Unlisted.

More on how to create your channel and upload your first video here.

Connect your Google Ads account to your YouTube channel. Linking the two allows your Google Ads account to access the metrics from your YouTube video. This can be helpful for retargeting purposes, as well as understanding engagement with your video. Here are complete instructions on how to link the two accounts.

You’re ready to run your first campaign! Your next step is to choose which ad type is right for your video.

There are six main types of YouTube ads:

  1. Skippable in-stream ads
  2. Non-skippable in-stream ads
  3. Video discovery ads
  4. Bumper ads
  5. Non video ads
  6. Video sequence ads

Let’s a take a look at each of them in a little more detail.

  1. Skippable in-stream ads

Skippable in-stream ads run before, during or after other videos. These ads can be as long as you would like. After the video plays for five seconds, the viewer can choose to skip the ad. As an advertiser, you only pay if the viewer watches at least 30 seconds of the ad.

Note: You may have also heard these called TrueView ads. TrueView is YouTube’s name for any ad that you only pay for if the user chooses to watch it.

Here is an example of a skippable in-stream ad for Grammarly on YouTube:

This ad is running before a video from the Hamilton soundtrack. There is a five-second countdown in the lower right-hand corner and a call-to-action to visit the Grammarly website in the lower left-hand corner. You can see that the entire ad is 57 seconds long. After five seconds, the countdown is replaced with a skip ad button that allows the viewer to choose whether to keep watching.

Now, let’s be honest, most viewers are going to skip most ads. And that’s okay! As an advertiser, you are not paying for viewers who skip your ad. You’re only paying for those who choose to continue watching. And anyone who chooses to keep watching past the five second mark is likely interested in what you are offering and has high potential to become a customer or lead.   

  1. Non-skippable in-stream ads

Want to make sure your entire message gets in front of as many people as possible? Non-skippable in-stream ads are for you. These ads must be 15 seconds or less. They guarantee that viewers will see your entire message and are great for broad brand awareness campaigns. With this ad type, you will pay based on the total number of ad impressions (CPM).

  1. Video discovery ads

Video discovery ads only appear on YouTube and reach people in places where they’re discovering content. Think of these more like a paid search result than a traditional commercial. They appear alongside organic results for other videos.

When a viewer clicks the thumbnail for your ad, YouTube will send them directly to your YouTube watch page or your channel page to view the video, instead of playing it within an ad unit.

Content is important for this ad type. Viewers aren’t likely to click on something that’s a traditional commercial, so if you choose discovery ads, make sure you have video content that is engaging and offers something of value to your intended audience.

Below is an example of how these ads appear in an organic search results page on YouTube.

Discovery ads are also considered TrueView ads because an advertiser only pays when a viewer clicks on them.

  1. Bumper ads

These quick little ads must be six seconds or less, and they are not skippable. Bumper ads can appear before, during or after another video. Since they’re not skippable, you will pay for them by total impressions. They’re best used for general brand awareness and should have short, memorable messages.

  1. Non-video ads

What if you don’t have a great video to run? Not to worry, you can still get in front of YouTube’s massive audience with display ads. These ads have a headline, image and short amount of copy. They appear alongside relevant video content. Below is an example of Wayfair ads for garden planters alongside a search for videos on container gardening.

  1. Video sequence ads

Video sequence ads allow an advertiser to serve an audience a series of videos over time that tell a story. These sequences are comprised of individual in-stream and bumper ads knitted together to form a larger story. Once a viewer sees the first video in the sequence (based on impressions), they can be shown the second and then the third, etc.

This is a new and more advanced type of YouTube advertising. We recommend familiarizing yourself with the other ad formats before jumping in and experimenting here. You can learn more about this ad type and how to set it up here.

Now that you know which ad type you want to use, you’re ready to set up your campaign using Google Ads. Click from the Overview page, click the +New Campaign button. Google Ads will walk you through the process. Essentially this boils down to whether you are looking for impressions, clicks or conversions. Google will give you ad options based on the objective you choose here.

Make sure you choose Video ad in the next step.

Then choose one of the ad types we reviewed above.

Now you’re ready to set your bid strategy and target your audience. One of the benefits of YouTube advertising is its powerful, granular audience targeting capabilities, so we want to spend a bit of time here.

Google Ads has three general audience targeting buckets.

  • Demographics: This includes things like age, gender, parental status and household income. Having detailed personas can help you take full advantage of this category. It’s pretty straight-forward.

  • Interest: This is the most powerful targeting section and where things get interesting. YouTube allows you to target views based on keywords and topics. Their algorithm will then place your ad in front of people it knows are interested in your topic. You can get very granular in this section. Layering interests on top of demographics will allow you to find niche audiences that you know are interested in your products or services.

  • Remarketing: This is where you can market to people who have watched one of your videos or visited your website.

Note: Video sequence ads an only be targeted based on audience and demographics. You cannot target them based on interest and keywords.

As always, we recommend starting with a small budget, testing ad types and formats to see what works with your audience, and slowly growing your campaigns from there. Need help setting up your first YouTube campaign? We’d love to help.