The Lazy Marketers Guide To YouTube Advertising

Posted 8 months ago by @megroy_

Hey guys, Meg here!

And today, let's talk about YouTube.

Everyone’s favorite place for cats, makeup tutorials, vlogs, goofs, and generally anything you can think of. It’s on YouTube.

I mean, I even use YouTube to set the mood at holiday parties with classic “10 Hours Crackling Firewood” 

Why Advertise on YouTube?

All this to say that anything can be found on YouTube and that is reflected in how many people actually use the platform each month. Being the second largest search engine (behind only Google), there are 1.8 billion logged in users every month, and that’s not even counting people that aren’t registered users. There is an active user base and basically unlimited audience on YouTube for advertisers to promote their brand, sell products, and create a community. People use the platform for entertainment, news, and research.

 But how much does it cost? Bottom line, YouTube is very cost effective because there are different cost models. You can pay on a CPM basis for more brand awareness goals. But even better, cost per view is also an option for more consideration goals (like site traffic). A view is counted if someone watches 30 seconds of the ad (or duration if the ad is shorter than 30 seconds) or interacts with the video (like clicks on companion banners or call to action overlays). That’s up to 30 seconds of FREE watch time. With a compelling video ad or precise targeting strategy, users will spend more time watching, more time engaging, and more time learning about the brand.

YouTube Ad Types

It’s important to understand the different types of ads on Youtube because there are several. Mostly, they’re based on location within YouTube and the length of the ad itself. But let’s focus on the two big ones.

  1. TrueView – As mentioned before, Trueview ads are free for up to 30 seconds (or played in full if under 30 seconds) or interacted with by clicking companion banner. Viewers have the option to skip, so the goal here is grab the attention of users within the first 5 seconds.
  1. Bumper Ads – These guys are non-skippable and whose purpose is for reach and awareness. Bumper ads only last for 6 seconds and operate on a CPM basis. These videos should very quick to get your message across, which makes them great for mobile. For inspiration, check out YouTube’s leaderboard on the top 20 bumper ads:

Audience Targeting for Video

 So you’ve decided to launch your first YouTube campaign and asking “what are my targeting options?” Strategically reaching the audience will help reduce wasted spend, so it’s important to understand what the goal of leveraging video would do for your brand. Do you want to retarget to previous site visitors or want to capture cold leads to people who maybe have never even heard of you? Good news is that you can do both!

Reaching New Customers

It’s good to breakdown cold targeting audiences into a targeting funnel to accurately know where in the customer journey you’ll be reaching a user. This is important because you can customize messaging based on where in the journey someone may be or how much to invest to a particular segment.


  1. Affinity and Custom Affinity – Affinity audiences are Google curated audiences who have been determined to have a liking to a particular segment, ie beauty products or cars. You can customize Affinity with… guessed it, Custom Affinity audiences by combining keywords, interests, URL’s, and apps to create a completely unique set of people.
  1. Topic – Topic targeting is a little less audience focused and emphasizes the content of the video or site. This allows your video to align with certain content and get in front of that audience. For example, say you’re a fitness brand, you can utilize topical targeting to Gym and Health Clubs or Bodybuilding. Your video ad will then appear in line with these types of topics.

  1. In-Market – Also Google curated, in-market audiences are people who are actively research products. They are basically likely buyers or converters.

  1. Placement – Leverage placement targeting when you want to get in front of specific channels or videos on YouTube. No matter the audience you’re targeting, you can still see performance by placement within Google Ads. If there are several channels that are performing well, segment these to a new ad group or campaign to better target and invest your spend.

  1. Custom Intent – Similar to Custom Affinity, Custom Intent audience can be built by the advertiser based on keywords that are most relevant to your brand.
Encouraging Users to Return 

Most of the time, someone will not convert on the first visit to a site. Traffic to site is great, but if none of that traffic ever converts, then it’s been a giant waste of money, and no one likes that. That’s where retargeting comes in – actively engage with the user to encourage a return and push them down the funnel to capture a conversion.

  1. RLSA – Remarketing lists of Search Ads (RLSA) is a great way to start a remarketing strategy. Google Ads now creates some audiences automatically if the global site tag is on the site. These include simple audiences like all visitors or all converters. Nothing crazy, but a really great place to quickly launch and retarget these people. However, we can take it one step further and segment visitors by specific actions on the site like read a blog post, visited a specific product page, or went to the shopping cart. These are all valuable actions on the site that point to an engaged user. Target these guys, they’re great!

  1. Google Analytics audiences – Another cool way to retarget is to get a little fancy in Google Analytics. We can create audiences based on time on site, how many pages someone visited, if the user completed a micro-conversions (say like signed up to the email newsletter or downloaded an ebook). Create an audience and get in front of them on YouTube. Remind them why they downloaded that ebook. They actively engaged with the brand, so bring them back for more goodies.


Measuring, Optimizing, Testing, Repeat

No matter the channel, there should be a constant cycle of launch, measurement, test, repeat. This pushes the media to work for you. For YouTube, there are endless tests – which video length performs best, what audience is generating the best view rate, what placement is performing most efficiently. This leads to ways to measure and optimize for YouTube:

  1. View Rate – view rate is defined as the percentage of how many people watched the video. Basically, it’s like the CTR of video, measuring total views of the video divided by impressions (including thumbnail for video discovery ads).
  • View rate is engagement with the video. If the view rate is high, people are watching your ad or clicking on a companion banner, actively interacting with your brand.

  • If a certain audience doesn’t have a great view rate, it’s time to optimize out of this audience or test new creative.
  1. Campaign Settings – Each month, no matter how long I’ve managed an account, I’ll always check the campaign settings as part of a monthly audit. For video specifically, you have the option of inventory type, excluded content (like mature or explicit material, you can exclude this), language, location, frequency capping, etc. Always check these to ensure you’re not wasting money or negatively impacting performance.
  2. Re-invest in better performing targets/placements – As mentioned above, if a view rate isn’t performing well or the cost per view is high comparative to other audiences, reinvest! It’s OK if not all audiences don’t perform too well. It was tested, proven to be inefficient, and now we are all the wiser. Shift that budget to a better performing targeting.

Now, go forth and create a great YouTube campaign!

Key takeaways:
  1. Make great ads and capture attention early
  2. Strategically segment your targeting strategy
  3. Test, Test, Reinvest 

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us at Search Sprints. Our calendars are open, and we always love to talk shop with advertisers. Let us know how we can help whether it’s getting your campaign up and running or managing it start to finish.