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Google AdWords

The Advertiser’s Guide to YouTube Video Ads

Advertising on YouTube gives you and your business access to 1 billion engaged people. It’s a 2 billion eyeball opportunity you simply can not pass up.

Getting started, though, is no small task. There are annoying nuances with YouTube ads that make set up and reporting tricky. Even with proper set-up, it can be tough to understand how you’re being charged, what a “view” even is, and how to choose which videos your ad shows before.

This tutorial is for advertisers who already have a video ready-to-go. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out our favorite YouTube ads and how you can mimic them.

[Scroll to the bottom for a video tutorial using the old AdWords interface]

Let’s get started!

How to Set Up YouTube Video Ads in AdWords

Step 1: Set Up Your YouTube Advertising Account

  1. Create an AdWords Account or get access by sending this video to your AdWords account manager.
  2. Create a YouTube Account

Step 2: How to Set Up a YouTube Video Ad Campaign

  1. Make sure the video you would like to use for your ad is uploaded as a public or unlisted video on your YouTube channel.
  2. From the AdWords Dashboard click the  +CAMPAIGN  button
  3. Select Video  from the dropdown
  4. Name your campaign
  5. Select “Standard” (we’ll cover Mobile App Install & Product Overlay YouTube ads in future tutorials)

Step 3: Choosing Your Network – Where You Campaign Will Show! [VERY IMPORTANT]

In this step, you are setting the campaign level targeting and placement. You want to be careful here because there are a lot of different steps and distinctions that can really trip you up. After learning about YouTube Search Ads (In-Display Ads) and YouTube Display Network Ads (Pre-roll or In-Stream Ads), you may want to leverage both ads for your business. To run YouTube Search Ads AND YouTube Display Network or Pre-Roll Ads, you will need to create an ad group for each. To do so, you will simply select multiple Networks here and then repeat Step 5 for each Ad Group.  

1. YouTube Search Ads (YouTube In-Display Ads): Similar to AdWords Search ads, YouTube ads with YouTube Search Network checked will show for relevant keywords within YouTube Search & related videos based on targeting specifications made at the ad group level in Step 5. Keywords and Video type will be set in Step 5. Pictured below are the various placements on YouTube.com for your YouTube Search Ads: YouTube search results, YouTube related videos, YouTube overlay, Partner websites.

Youtube Video Search Ads

YouTube In Display Related Video AdYouTube Search Ad placementin display ad youtube

2. YouTube Display Network (YouTube In-Stream Ads): Also known as Pre-roll ads, video ads with YouTube Videos Network selected will be able to target based on who is viewing the video, which video to show before, and/or which video topic you would like to show for. More on that later.

*Smart Tip* You will only be charged when a viewer clicks on the ad or if the viewer watches the first 30 seconds of the ad. If your ad is shorter than 30 seconds, you will be charged when a person views the entire ad

Youtube Pre-roll Ad

3. Video partners on the Display Network: Just as you can move outside of Google.com to show Text and Image ads on the display network, you can show pre-roll videos on Google’s partnered sites. This includes:

  • Pre-roll ads shown before any video embedded in sites you choose
  • Pre-roll ads shown before any video embedded in sites of a certain topic
  • YouTube Search Ads on Google partner sites

YouTube In Stream Display Network Ad YouTube Search Ad on Display Network

Step 4: Set Campaign Location, Language, and Devices Targeting

  1. Set your preference for Location.
    *Smart Tip* 80% of YouTube views come outside the United States, so location targeting is crucial to finding the right audience.
  2. Set your Language targeting
  3. Choose which Devices to show for.
    *Smart Tip* Is your landing page mobile responsive? Run your site through Google’s Mobile-Friendliness Test
  4. Advanced Settings Overview: If you’d like to have a start date and end date of your campaign, or would like to set up an ad schedule for when your ad will show, do so under Ad delivery.
  5. Click  Save and continue 

Step 5: Creating Your YouTube Video Ad Group

As mentioned in Step 3, if you’re only doing pre-roll ads for a single video, or only doing YouTube Search for a single video, you only need to create 1 Ad Group. For multiple ad groups, simply repeat this step for each Ad Group.

  1. Name your Ad Group. I suggest including the intended placement, In-Stream or In-Display, in the Ad Group Name
  2. Paste your ad’s URL from YouTube
  3. Choose In-Display versus In-Stream. Scroll up to Step 3 to see the difference.
  4. Set your maximum CPV or Cost Per View bid strategy.
    • Bidding for Pre-Roll / In-Stream Ads: You will be charged on a Cost Per View (CPV) basis. A view is a broad term that is counted when someone watches 30 seconds of your ad OR if someone clicks on your ad.
    • Bidding for Search / In-Display Ads: You will be charged on a Cost Per View (CPV) basis. In my opinion, this terminology is super confusing because a user clicks on your ad to view the video, but you are charged when the user clicks. So, for all YouTube ads, a click is equal to a view.

      *Smart Tip*
       Bids normally fall between $0.07 and $0.73.
      *Smart Tip* Think: what is the highest price you are willing to pay for someone to view your video? For more insight think about it this way: How much is a conversion on your ad’s landing page worth? Now multiply that dollar value by your landing page’s conversion rate. That gives you your MAX CPC. To get Cost Per View, take that resulting CPC and multiply it by your projected CTR or Click-through-Rate. Or, how many people who see your ad will click? You may not know these variables, but they’re important data points to keep an eye on once your ad starts running.
  5. Finalize targeting
    • Set your Demographics to narrow your targeting to certain Ages, Parental Statuses, Age, and gender
    • Set your Interest targeting to access people who are interested in certain categories or are currently in certain markets like currently employment industry or education status
  6. To even further segment your audience, click the Narrow your targeting (optional) dropdown.
    • Keywords: if your ad is showing on the YouTube search network, set the keywords for which you would like your ad to show. For even more control, check out our Guide to Keyword Match Types.
    • Placements: if there are certain YouTube channels or videos you would like to pre-roll your ads on, enter them here!
    • Remarketing: Show your ads to people who visited your website and are now watching YouTube videos
    • Topics: not sure which specific channels or videos you’d like to show before? Topics are a great way to target a more relevant audience to your product or service
  7. Click  Save ad and ad group 

For a video tutorial using the old AdWords interface, check out our walkthrough below:

Questions? Comments? Personal experience? We’d love to hear! Tweet us @AdHawk

5 responses to “The Advertiser’s Guide to YouTube Video Ads

  1. Great post Bobby – flipping it around, if I had a YouTube channel and wanted to monetize either the channel or individual videos with just one advertiser/partner (say Audi), does YouTube allow this and how would it work (both from my end and for Audi)?

    1. Thanks, Rob! Advertisers have the ability to target ads to a specific channel, but Channel owners are not able to choose exactly which brands can advertise. Channel owners can set some general parameters around the types of videos they want to allow, but do not have that level of control.

      The channel could go down the route of affiliate marketing and partner with the desired brands within their content. Cool question, though.

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About the Author

Marketing and Growth Director at AdHawk. Helping business find confidence and success online, one hefty article at a time.