Targeted, engaging and optimized videos are powerful vehicles for spreading your marketing message and reaching a new audience. And the reality is, most people would rather watch an engaging video than read a lengthy article or blog post.
In fact, the YouTube platform has over 2 billion users—who, combined, consume over 1-billion hours of video every single day!
That’s more than Netflix and Facebook videos combined.
But of course, YouTube isn’t the only video platform available, though it currently is the largest. As of 2021, YouTube reaches more 18 to 49-year-olds than any American cable network.
There’s no question, it’s a powerful tool for branding and marketing, and since your audience is likely already on video platforms, it’s an easy way to maximize conversion rates, or simply reach an entirely new following.
YouTube has also become a frequently used search engine for many people, even those who generally say they’re not comfortable with modern tech.
In this special report, we’ll take a close look at how you can create high converting video ads on the YouTube platform so that you can maximize exposure quickly and easily.
Intro to YouTube Ads
In 2017, YouTube revamped its AdWords, allowing advertisers to reach more viewers on YouTube, especially on mobile devices, where almost 50% of all YouTube views occur.
YouTube also announced the ability for advertisers to target viewers based on their Google search history—in addition to the viewing behaviors it was already targeting.
This means that you can now target viewers who recently searched for a specific product or service, and you can then create different ads for different types of viewers.
If a viewer sees a video-based ad that’s closely related to something they were just searching for, they’re more likely to watch the entire clip, or even click through to your website for more information.
Targeted ads allow you to maximize your marketing dollars and reach deep into your niche, connecting with your audience in a matter of minutes.
YouTube ads are a little different from other types of ads (like Facebook or Google) though. With some of the other platforms, you’re required to pay upfront for your ads.
With YouTube, however, you only pay for a view if the user watches more than 30 seconds of your ad, or takes an action (such as clicking through to your website).
With Google or Facebook ads, you’d pay no matter how much of your ad was seen. With YouTube, you pay only when your ad has triggered a positive response!
Types of YouTube Ads
Before you begin advertising on the YouTube platform, it’s important that you understand the different options available.
Currently, there are seven different types of YouTube ads:
TrueView Instream Ads: These are the most common of all YouTube ads, the main advertising format.
8 out of 10 viewers prefer this sort of ad over the other types. This is mostly because this format gives you the most control over which advertisements they see.
You may see this as a negative, as viewers can choose to skip your ads, but think of it this way: you’re paying only for those viewers who are interested in what you’re offering them.
These ads can be as short as 12 seconds and as long as 6 minutes. A six-minute ad is a fairly long one, so you should probably aim for somewhere in the middle.
There are two basic types of TrueView Ads: skippable and non-skippable.
Let’s look at those in more detail.
Non-skippable Instream Ads: These are a type of TrueView ad that do exactly what the title says. The viewer cannot skip over these ads, but must watch all the way through to get to the content they’re searching for.
Non-skippable ads can play at the beginning or end of the chosen video, or can be placed somewhere in the middle. Ads that pop up in the middle of a video can be annoying, but you’re more likely to keep the viewer’s attention because they’re waiting for the rest of the chosen content to display.
The important thing to remember is that the ad must be watched all the way through, which means you pay every time the ad plays. This would be a good choice for a business with a large marketing budget because you’re not going to be targeting your viewers quite as narrowly as you would with a skippable ad. With a non-skippable ad, you’ll pay every time it pops up.
Note: YouTube recently announced that they had to be under 20 seconds long (rather than the 30 seconds they previously allowed).
There’s also a special subset of Non-skippable Ad: the Bumper Ad. This is a non-skippable ad that plays at the beginning of a video and must be under 6 seconds long. You are charged for these in the same way you are charged for other non-skippable ads.
Skippable Instream Ads: Again, this is just what it sounds like. After viewing five seconds of your TrueView ad, the user can opt to skip it and get straight back to their chosen content.
You aren’t charged unless they watch at least 30 seconds of your ad (or if they take action such as clicking on a link in your ad).
Skippable ads can be played at the beginning of a video, during the video, or afterwards. We recommend placing your ads at the beginning or middle of the video because it’s way too easy to just skip an ad at the end by clicking on the next video in the series.
Sponsored Card Ads: These ads display content relevant to the YouTube video being watched, such as products used in the video itself. Viewers will see a teaser for the card for a few seconds, or they can click an icon at the top right corner of their screen to browse through the cards associated with their video.
These ads are available on both desktop and mobile versions of YouTube. Sponsored cards are a very unobtrusive YouTube ad.
Overlay Ads: These are available for desktop or laptop computers. An overlay ad is a transparent ad that appears in the lower 20% of the video. That’s 480 x 70 pixels and viewers can exit the ad at any time they wish.
Overlay ads are not as popular because are prone to with false clicks, and because some viewers find them annoying.
Display Ads: These appear to the right of the video just above the video suggestion list. They can be 300 x 250 or 300 x 60 pixels in size and can run across all areas of YouTube except for the homepage.
If a viewer is interested in what you’re advertising and sees one of your display ads, you should get a click.
Midroll Ads: These ads play full screen and appear in videos that are more than 15 minutes long. They play just like television commercials, interrupting the video periodically to show an advertisement.
Viewers must watch the ad before the video continues playing so you’ll be paying whenever the ad runs and not when the viewer watches a certain amount of the ad.
These ads can appear on desktop, laptop, and mobile devices. Advertisers can insert ad breaks at natural pauses in a longer video for a more streamlined viewing experience.
Most people are used to seeing commercials when watching a video, so this type of ad isn’t as annoying as some of the other types. Since these are non-skippable, you are charged on a CPM basis – that’s Cost-Per-Mille, where “mille” stands for a thousand views.
Setting Your Advertising Budget
YouTube advertising cost ranges (on average) from $0.10 to $0.30 per view or impression, however the overall cost for each ad campaign can vary based on a variety of factors, such as:
- Your advertising goals.
- The type of YouTube ad you’re running.
- Advertising audience targeting preferences.
- Your daily budget.
And of course, the cost to create the video itself.
As of 2021, the average business sets a $10 daily budget for its YouTube advertising campaigns. The key is to set a reasonable budget and be realistic about your advertising goals.
YouTube is a great way to maximize traffic and increase awareness for your business, but it’s important that you set a clear objective right from the start.
Also keep in mind that since YouTube requires that you pay only for the ads that are viewed, you’ll be able to effectively determine your overall advertising costs based on how many views you’re aiming to reach.
You’ll also want to closely monitor your results. You can easily gauge the effectiveness of your ads by tapping into the available metrics that will give you important engagement-based data, such as likes, shares, comments, watch-time, and what Google calls “brand lift”.
Brand lift is “a measurement of the direct impact your YouTube ads are having on perceptions and behaviors throughout the consumer journey.”
So, begin by creating a cost outline that includes all your upfront costs, such as video creation, script writing, etc.
Then, choose the right type of ad for your business and set a reasonable campaign goal.
Tip: If you are looking to decrease advertising costs, you might want to consider working with a YouTube advertising partner where they take care of the video production process for you.
How to Define Your Target Audience
Reaching new audiences is easy with YouTube ads, but it all starts by defining your target audience.
You’ll need to brainstorm and figure out which types of people would be interested in your product or service. That will be based on things like age, location, socio-economic status, educational level, interests, etc.
Don’t be vague, either. “Men” or “Women” just won’t work. Think more along the lines of “30-something career women with 2 children who are interested in starting a home-based business.”
The key is to narrow down your search as far as possible.
Market research, and being able to define your target audience in a nutshell is important in understanding the customer and how they are going to make purchase decisions.
Targeting a specific audience will also help your ad campaigns reach the right people—those who will relate to your company’s message and will be interested in your products or services.
Let’s say your company is marketing a new educational toy. Your target audiences might be children who are X-years old, parents, grandparents, teachers, and maybe educational specialists.
Now you only need to target those people with your ads to find some potential clients! You can insert your ad into anything from a children’s video to an educational show for parents—whatever you believe is not only relevant, but likely to trigger a positive response.
That way, you’d get the exposure to different audiences for the same basic ad. Of course, you’d want to tweak the ad to appeal to different ages and demographics.
Remember that your target audience isn’t the same as your target market.
Both are centered around dividing customers into different groups to help you make informed business decisions.
A target market, however, is a specific group of consumers at whom your company’s products and services are aimed.
A target audience defines that that group using demographics, interests, and buying history.
To put it another way, you can define your target market by finding your target audience.
For example, if your target market is “young men aged 20-35,” your target audience might be “young men aged 20-35 living in New York City.”
You can then divide your audience into groups or further define them using categories like the following:
Purchase Intention: a group of people looking for a specific product or service who are looking for more information before they purchase.
Examples would be consumers in the market for a laptop, automobile, television, or an item of clothing. This sort of information is important so you can see how to better direct your messages to your audience.
Interests: a group of people who are interested in the same thing, like hiking or knitting or basketball.
Knowing this information helps you to connect with your audience in a relatable way and figure out buyer behaviors and motivation.
For example, customers interested in baseball memorabilia would most likely be interested during baseball season, when they can show off their purchases during the games.
Another example: if you discover that a large group of your audience is interested in eating out, you could figure out a way to work that into your ads and attract even more attention.
Subcultures: groups of people who identify with a shared experience, like a certain music scene or entertainment genre.
People define themselves by these subcultures and you can use those to better understand who you’re reaching out to.
For example, if you think of how a certain subculture relates to your business—especially if you have a large potential audience—then you’re reaching your subculture.
Think of how Netflix markets to its different subcultures (people who like comedy, science-fiction, horror, and anime) using social media accounts directed at those groups.
Adjust Your Targeting
Defining your target audience involves a good bit of research. That goes into figuring out exactly who you want to reach and how you can reach them in a way that stands out from your competitors.
Here’s how to find your audience so you can adjust your targeting to reach those people:
1: Use Google Analytics to learn more about your customers.
Google Analytics is great for finding demographic details about your audience and their interests. This is critical information that will help you locate a target audience.
With Google Analytics, you can see website insights and how that’s broken into different sections, like age, gender, and location.
These sections are clearly labeled on your dashboard and shown in colorful graphs that are easy to interpret. This tool can be a fantastic asset that will give you great insight into who’s visiting your website and how your product or services fit into their lives.
2: Create a reader persona to target your blog content.
The good thing about a reader persona is that it should be nearly identical to your buyer persona.
You need to remember who you’re writing for and give them useful content to read. This will build your reputation among your consumers and make them trust you to recommend products and services for them.
The main difference between a reader persona and a buyer persona is that the reader persona usually focuses on whatever problems that reader might have in their life. Figure out how to write content that solves their problems with one or more blog posts.
3: Check out social media analytics.
You need to figure out when your audience is most engaged with your social media channels.
Is it when you post funny photos or memes, or when you post a poll?
The answers to your questions can give you clues into the content your audience is interested in.
Every social media platform is different, with a different audience. So looking at the analytics across all your platforms is very important.
For example, Facebook tends to attract an older audience than Twitter does, but Twitter uses short posts while Facebook allows longer posts and even videos. Instagram is visually based, so graphically interesting content would be great for that platform.
If you keep those things in mind, you can plan your strategy better.
Analytics can tell you who’s looking at your profile, what’s working, and what’s not working about your content. In order to gain followers from your target market, you must post content your audience is interested in.
4: Use Facebook insights.
This is a great tool if you have a Facebook account. Facebook gives every one of your Pages free insights like who your followers are and where they’re from.
These insights work very similarly to Google Analytics, giving you crucial information you’ll need to determine your target audience.
On your insight’s dashboard, access the People tab to see location demographics like which city your followers live in. That can give you some interests that might attract your followers.
Launching your First Campaign
You’ve put in the hours, done your homework, and planned everything out perfectly. You’ve perfected your script, storyboarded your ad, found the right talent, shot the ad and edited it.
The result can be a blockbuster video ad!
But with all that time and effort invested, you can’t just embed your ad in a random video and hope it reaches the right audience.
Great content is almost certain to become sticky sooner or later, but it’s important for you to be proactive about getting the attention of prospective clients and educating those unfamiliar with your brand.
Running a series of YouTube ads is one way to make sure more of your target audience is going to find that video you’ve worked so hard to produce.
Advertising on YouTube is different from running a pay-per-click ad or a paid social campaign. YouTube has certain specific constraints, but it also has lots of options. You need some basic knowledge before you start your next video project so you can make the most of your ad possibilities.
A TrueView ad can include people, dialogue, and music that’s been retrieved with permission (or is considered royalty-free).
You don’t want to run a standard promotional commercial though. Since your ads can be skipped, you’ll want to give your audience a real reason to keep watching. “Product plugs” generally don’t grab the views that you’ll want.
Instead, tell some sort of story with your video ad. People love seeing case studies of others who’ve faced a struggle that they can empathize with. This sort of ad is harder to skip and it will make your brand more memorable.
The TrueView ads also provide you with lots of information you can use to determine how they’re performing.
You can see data on completed views, partial views, click-through rates on your calls-to-action, whether your video drives channel subscriptions, any views sourced from a user sharing your content, and views on the brand’s other content that can be connected to a user who’s viewed your ad.
These actions can help you understand the value of your video ad dollars—and where to focus your budget to increase your results.
Non-skippable pre-roll ads can give you some of the same features as TrueView ads do. You can include people, dialogue, audio, and other elements that represent your brand—providing you can do it in 15 to 20 seconds.
Because these ads are non-skippable, your best option is to include a call-to-action so you can optimize the viewer’s attention.
In other words, encourage your viewers to click on your ad and receive something useful in return.
To set up your campaign, first go to your Google AdWords dashboard:
- The red “+ Campaign” button on the left-hand tab has a drop-down menu where you should choose “Video.”
- Enter a name for your campaign. Make sure you have also checked the “Video” type from that drop-down menu as well.
- Then select “In-Stream or video discovery ads” to make sure your videos will be in TrueView format.
- Set your budget per day and your delivery style. The latter will be either standard, where your ads will show evenly over a period of time, or accelerated, which shows the ads as quickly as possible.
- Now, decide where you want your ads to appear. With “YouTube Search,” your ads will appear in search results and on the YouTube home page, channel pages, and video pages.
- With “YouTube Videos,” your ads will appear as in-display or in-stream videos.
- With this option, you can also choose to show your ads on Google partner sites, apps, and the Display Network.
- You should try some ads in both YouTube Search and YouTube Videos so you can see the difference each ad makes.
- Define the location where you want the ads shown. You can also exclude certain locations if you want.
Your YouTube ad is now ready for publication—and ready to net you some potential clients!
And finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with different ads to see what your particular audiences enjoy more, and remember to track your results whenever you test a new ad.
To your success!