Interested in the world of YouTube ads, but not sure where to start?
We have the guide for you.
These days, YouTube ads are much more than the frustrating 5-second previews you’re forced to watch before the real video plays.
They’re an increasingly effective way to reach a massive audience. As of now, more than 500 million hours of videos are watched on YouTube each day.
As such, video ads now account for more than 35% of all ad spending online.
Successful brands know that their advertising plans need to start turning to video. Keep reading to find out the kinds of ads available, how to use them and why they’re right for you.
Why You Need Them
Perhaps the better question is why don’t you.
With more and more people spending their time on video sites rather than traditional media channels, brands will soon be faced with a dilemma: embrace the world of video marketing, or risk losing exposure to a rapidly increasing audience.
Google explains YouTube ads have the potential to “increase the millennial audience your video ads reach by 42%, multiply engagement by 10X, and boost views of past videos by 500%.”
Do I have your attention yet?
Good. Now let’s take a deeper look.
You have options when it comes to YouTube ads.
While some display and banner ads can be purchased directly through YouTube, we’re focusing solely on video display ads.
These are run through Google AdWords, and come in three formats:
- TrueView In-Stream Ads
- TrueView Discovery Ads
- Bumper Ads
Google explains “TrueView is built on the promise that you’ll only pay when someone chooses to watch your video ad.”
It’s meant to specifically target users who are interested in your product; if they aren’t, they’ll simply skip the video, at no charge to you.
But if they’re curious, they’ll watch to completion, and you’ll get more views from an audience you know is interested in what you’re saying or selling.
In fact, “viewers who completed TrueView ads—watched to completion or at least 30 seconds—were 23X more likely to visit or subscribe to a brand channel, watch more by that brand, or share the brand video.”
Now let’s take a look at the options available, and which is right for you.
TrueView In-Stream Ads
These are likely the ads you’re most familiar with.
In-Stream ads run before or during another video. Viewers are able to choose to continue watching or skip the ad after 5 seconds.
The benefit here is that you only pay if a viewer watches for at least 30 seconds or until the end of the ad (whichever is shorter), or clicks on a card or other element of your in-stream creative.
The trick is that you need to make those first 5 seconds as intriguing as possible.
Major Benefits: These are great for getting as many views as possible, because they are imposed on the viewer. If maximum exposure is your goal, go for in-stream.
Possible Drawbacks: The possible ad annoyance factor is increased here, since viewers are forced to watch at least 5 seconds and therefore may be tempted to skip as soon as possible.
TrueView Discovery Ads
Formerly known as In-Display ads, these appear alongside other YouTube videos, in YouTube search pages or on the Google Display Network that match your target audience.
In-Display ads will appear differently depending on where they run. For example, in the YouTube watch page they can appear in the related video section, or as an overlay on the video you’re watching.
The beauty here is that you only pay for these when someone clicks on your ad to view it.
Google recommends using call-to-action (CTA) overlays on the videos to drive users to the site.
Major Benefits: Because these aren’t required viewing, only those with a genuine interest in your service will click, giving you a more solid viewer base likely to subscribe to your channel.
Possible Drawbacks: Overall exposure may be limited, as it requires more action on the viewer’s part.
Bumper ads appear before other videos and are six seconds or less. Viewers aren’t given the option to skip these ads.
Advertisers pay for bumper ads per impression.
While six seconds may not seem like much time, Google explains “while Bumpers are short on time, they’re long on impact. We tested over 300 Bumper campaigns this year and found that 9 out of 10 drove a significant lift in ad recall.”
Major Benefits: YouTube recommends using these ads when “you’d like to reach viewers broadly with a short, memorable message,” therefore making them ideal for upper-funnel goals like ad recall and awareness.
Possible Drawbacks: These also have the potential to frustrate viewers, as they aren’t given the option to skip.
Which Ad is Right For You?
Ultimately, the format you choose will depend on your goals.
If you’re going solely for maximum exposure, in-stream is your best bet. If you’re going for a solid subscriber base, in-display may be more your style.
You’ll want to experiment with each format to determine which best fits with your strategy.
We’ve tried them all and had success with each, but to reach the most amount of people we like the in-stream option because it allows people to watch your ad without even having to click on it.
Setting Up Your Ad
YouTube ads must be run through Google AdWords, so that’s where you’ll start.
Go to the campaigns section of AdWords, click on “+campaign,” and select video from the dropdown menu.
First, you’ll want to give your campaign a name that is easy to identify.
The next step is choosing which ad format you’d like to run. For this example, we’ll go with In-stream ads.
Then we get to the budget. Specifically, the amount you’re willing to spend per day. It doesn’t need to be a big figure, and we generally recommend starting small if you’re new to YouTube ads.
Next up is networks. Here you have the option to choose if you want your ad to show up in YouTube Search, YouTube Videos, or Video Partners in the Display Network.
Google explains the choices:
- YouTube Search shows YouTube ads on YouTube search results pages. You can use video discovery ads only.
- YouTube Videos shows video ads on the YouTube homepage, watch and channel pages. You can use in-stream ads, video discover ads and bumper ads.
- Video Partners extends the reach of video ads to a collection of sites and apps in the Google Display Network (GDN). You can use in-stream ads, video discover ads and bumper ads.
You’ll then choose a location. This can extremely broad, “all countries and territories,” relatively broad, “United States and Canada,” or targeted by state, city, zip code, etc. using advanced filters.
The location you choose will depend on your goals.
If you want to get as many views as possible and boost popularity or have international customers you’ll want to choose a broad range. On the other hand, you’ll want to target down if you’re trying to drive direct sales in a certain area.
Afterwards you’ll select your campaign start and end date under Advanced Settings.
This will go back to your allotted budget. Say you’ve elected to spend $50 a day, with an overall budget of $200; you’ll only want to run your campaign for four days to avoid going over budget.
You also have the option to select specific days and times to run your ad.
The next stage is selecting the ad you’d like to run. You’ll first to need to make sure that video is uploaded to YouTube, then copy and paste the video URL.
Then you’ll select your chosen Video ad format: in-stream, discover ad or bumper ad. If you do choose discovery ad, you’ll also have the chance to select a thumbnail and copy for your ad.
Next comes bidding. This is the amount you’re willing to spend per view of your ad, and will depend heavily on your targeting. Generally, bid amounts range from .3 cents to .15 cents.
The next – and perhaps most difficult – part of the process is targeting.
Google offers and explains the following targeting methods:
- Demographic: These are the traditional filters such as age, gender, parental status, or household income of the audience you want to reach.
- Interest: You can choose from available audience categories to reach people interested in certain topics, even when they may be visiting pages about other topics.
- Affinity audiences: These allow you to target customers who have expressed interest in products or services similar to the ones you sell.
- Custom affinity audiences: With custom affinity audiences, you can create audiences that are more tailored to your brands using more specific keywords. So instead of a general keyword ‘healthcare’, you could use something like ‘nurse.’
- In-market audiences: These are used to find audiences that already seeking and researching products or services like the one you offer.
- Video remarketing: This allows you to reach audiences who have already interacted with your videos.
- Placements: You can choose to place your ad on unique channels, videos or apps within websites. Placements can include:
- YouTube channels
- YouTube videos
- Websites on the Display Network
- Apps on the Display Network
- Topics: This allows you to target your videos so you can reach a range of videos, channels and websites related to a selected topic.
- Keywords: You can show your video ads based on words or phrases related to a YouTube video, YouTube channel, or type of website that your audience is interested in.
We’ve tried all of them, and all have their merits.
The thing about YouTube is you have the opportunity to get in front of so many people. So oftentimes, we simply go with big branding parameters to get the most exposure.
For example, under interests you would select “business professionals” and “social media enthusiasts” – that’s likely a few million people. And that’s it for targeting.
Of course, your goal may be entirely different, so make sure you scale your targeting to your specific needs.
From there, click on Save Ad Group, and your ad is ready to go.
So You Can Make an Ad. Now What do You Put in it?
Like any other kind of marketing, this will depend heavily on your target audience.
This is where all your homework into buyer persona and psychology comes into play. Know your audience’s interests and motivations, and you’ll be much closer to knowing what kind of videos will appeal to them.
Below are a few popular ad formats:
- Talking heads: These are particularly useful for demonstrating thought leadership and industry expertise
- Product Showcase: Video is the ideal way to demonstrate the many impressive features of a product. After all, Online shoppers who view demo videos are 1.81x more likely to purchase than non-viewers (DMB Adobe), and 4x as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it (Animoto).
- Storytelling: Think of movie trailers. They attract viewers by telling a story — quickly — and leaving them with just enough plot to want more. Consider taking a similar approach with your ads.
Whichever way you decide to go, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Play up your strengths. Always answer the question: why should viewers be interested in your brand? Tell them why it’s unique and why it’s worth more than 5 or 6 seconds of their time.
- Cut to the chase. Don’t make viewers wait to find out why your brand’s so great. Try to hook their attention within the first 5 seconds.
- Get Creative With ad formats. Embrace the different formats and what they can offer. For example, Geico got around the ‘skip’ feature by making an ‘unskippable’ ad. They made their point in 5 seconds, and ended with “You can’t skip this GEICO ad … because it’s already over.”
- Use a Call-to-action. Tell viewers what you want from them, whether it’s to subscribe to your channel or click through to your website.
- Have a plan. Make sure your video is well thought out, scripted, and professional. If you’re going the talking head route, make sure your on-screen character is engaging and well-spoken.
Get Started With YouTube Ads
More and more people are turning to YouTube for information, making YouTube marketing a must for brands in the future.
While the idea of creating and producing a video ad may seem daunting, remember to approach it like you would any other marketing material: with a goal and well-defined target audience.
From there, a little creativity and execution will go a long way in gaining big results.