YouTube Ads for Beginners: How To Advertise on YouTube

Many YouTube channel managers believe that after setting up their channels, with increasing view counts, growing subscriptions, and improved engagement, they can sit back and focus on creating content.

However, that’s not entirely the case. You have another powerful resource in your toolkit that can potentially elevate your channel: advertising.

Yes, this article is all about placing ads on YouTube to promote yourself and grow your channel—not about getting advertisers to place ads on your channel.

Types of YouTube Ads

Take a look at the types of YouTube ads before jumping in headfirst. The most popular one is video ads, even though YouTube offers various ways to make money.

YouTube currently has a variety of ad formats, including:

  1. Skippable in-stream ads
  2. Non-skippable in-stream ads
  3. In-feed video ads
  4. Bumper ads
  5. Discovery ads
  6. Masthead ads

It’s important to understand the difference between forced and unforced ads for video ad formats. Forced ads make you watch them entirely before your video starts, while unforced ads allow you to skip them. For example, a six-second bumper ad is a forced format that plays fully before your video begins.

1. Skippable in-stream ads

Skippable in-stream ads on YouTube are a cool ad format. You can skip these video ads after watching just five seconds. They show up before, during, or after a video, and advertisers only pay if viewers watch at least 30 seconds or the full ad.

Google TrueView is the term often used for these skippable video ads on YouTube. TrueView is all about giving viewers a good experience and letting advertisers pay only for the views people actually watch. It makes sense, right? Why make someone watch an ad they’re not interested in?

TrueView comes in two types:

  1. TrueView in-stream: This plays before or during a video. Advertisers pay only if users watch 30 seconds or the whole ad.

  2. TrueView video discovery: Your ad appears with other YouTube videos in search results or on websites in the Google Display Network. You pay only if viewers click to watch your video.

2. Non-skippable in-stream ads

Non-skippable in-stream ads on YouTube are similar to skippable ones, but there’s a catch – viewers can’t skip them.

YouTube constantly checks if these ads create a bad experience for users. They experiment with options based on signals like how the user found the video. Non-skippable ads pop up before, during, or after a video, making viewers watch the whole 15 to 20-second ad.

Some traditional marketers prefer non-skippable ads because they’re similar to TV commercials – you can’t skip them. But why force people to watch your message if they’re not interested? It’s better to create ads people want to watch, use skippable formats like TrueView, and show your ad only to those who want to see it.

Non-skippable video ads:

  1. Make sure someone sees your ad.
  2. Can complement skippable formats in a media mix.
  3. Might suit creative you already have, like a 15-second TV ad you can repurpose.

Remember, forcing people to watch an ad they don’t want might not be effective.

3. In-feed video ads

In-feed video ads let you promote your videos on YouTube in a few different places:

  1. Next to related videos: Your video ad shows up alongside videos that are similar on YouTube.

  2. In YouTube search results: People might come across your video when they search for something on YouTube.

  3. On the YouTube mobile homepage: Your ad can pop up when users open the mobile app.

These ads include a thumbnail image from your video and some text. The size and appearance may change based on where they show up, but they all encourage viewers to click and watch the video. Your in-feed video ad appears on your channel homepage or the YouTube watch page.

In-feed video ads show up:

  • In YouTube search results
  • Next to related YouTube videos
  • On the YouTube mobile homepage

You only pay when viewers choose to watch your ad by clicking on the thumbnail.

4. Bumper ads

Bumper ads are short six-second ads on YouTube, perfect for mobile users who prefer quick content. YouTube introduced them to fit well with shorter attention spans, especially on mobile devices, where people don’t want long ads interrupting their viewing.

Here’s why bumper ads are a great choice for digital marketers:

  1. Cost-Effective and Wide Reach: They complement your media mix, helping you reach a broader audience without breaking the bank. This boosts your reach and frequency.

  2. Variety of Messages: With bumper ads, you can try different messages without a huge production cost. They’re a cost-effective way to experiment with your content.

  3. Mobile-Friendly: Since most people watch YouTube on mobile, these short ads are tailor-made for that platform.

Big marketers often trim down their 30-second TV commercials to fit into this bite-sized format. It’s essential, though, not to cram too much content into a short ad for it to be effective.

5. Discovery Ads

Think of in-stream ads like regular TV commercials, while discovery ads are more like the ads you come across on Google’s search results page. Since YouTube serves as both an internet search engine and a social network, this approach makes sense.

When you search for something on YouTube, both regular search results and discovery ads show up together. People are more likely to click on and watch your video if the ad looks more relevant than the regular search results.

A discovery ad consists of three lines of text and a thumbnail. If someone clicks on the ad, they’ll be directed to your YouTube channel or video page.

Discovery ads target people who show high-intent behavior, as determined by Google’s algorithms. For instance, eCommerce companies can use these ads to gain new customers and introduce their audience to new products and services.

It’s important to know that the Discover feed isn’t accessible to users in Germany, Australia, and France. Consequently, people in these countries won’t see these types of ads in their Google App.

6. Masthead Ads

When you go to the YouTube home page, you’ll notice the Masthead – a large display ad stretching across the page above the video thumbnails. This ad is a big deal, allowing advertisers to take over the YouTube home page for a whole 24 hours. It’s like a massive canvas where you can use images, text, video, and rich media to customize your message.

Big businesses with hefty budgets might go for this ad type for a major awareness campaign, reaching millions in just one day. The Masthead comes with a hefty price tag, often in the hundreds of thousands for a single day, and the cost varies by country.

Every time you visit the YouTube home page, check out who’s snagged the Masthead slot that day, and think about what they’re promoting and why the Masthead is a good fit.

The Masthead:

  • Is a fantastic way to dominate a day and showcase a specific event, like a sale or a current world happening.
  • Gives you access to a massive audience in a short time.
  • Provides a large creative canvas to work with.
  • Acts as a PR opportunity that might get people talking.

But, let’s be real – if you don’t have a few hundred thousand dollars to spend in a single day, this ad format might not be your best bet. The Masthead is mainly for the biggest advertisers.

YouTube has a tool that lets you see what your ad could look like in the Masthead. Visit www.youtube.com/yt/videomasthead, enter your YouTube video’s link, and the tool will create a Masthead ad automatically.

How to Advertise on YouTube

Step 1. Create a Google Ads account

Creating a Google Ads account used to be pretty involved, but that was long ago. Fortunately, Google has greatly simplified the process of opening a new Google Ads account:

  1. Open your web browser and go to https://ads.google.com.
  2. Click the “Sign In” link at the top right and log in with your Google account. It’s best to use the same account you use for managing your YouTube channel. If you already have a Google account for Gmail or another service, you can use that.
  3. On the new screen, click “New Google Ads Account” to start creating your account. This will take you to the New Campaign page.
  4. Click “Switch to Expert Mode” at the bottom of the New Campaign page. This helps you skip some initial questions designed for search advertising, which you don’t need for video ads.
  5. On the next screen, click “Create an Account Without a Campaign” under the campaign goal selection boxes. This allows you to set up your account before diving into creating a campaign.
  6. Now, choose your billing country, time zone, and currency from the dropdown lists on the new screen, and then click “Submit.”

Keep in mind that Google might change the sign-up process, so these instructions are subject to possible updates.

Step 2. Link your Google Ads account and YouTube channel

For your YouTube advertising project, you should link your Google Ads account with your YouTube channel to access deeper ad analytics and to set up YouTube remarketing lists. A well-run YouTube ad campaign produces lots of views, subscriptions, engagements, and clicks. By linking your accounts, you have access to much deeper statistics.

Follow these simple steps to link your accounts:

  1. Google Ads Account:

    • Log in to your Google Ads account.
    • Copy your customer ID, a unique 3-part number located in the top right corner of your Google Ads page.
  2. YouTube Account:

    • Log in to your YouTube account.
    • Click your account icon in the top right and select “YouTube Studio” from the menu.
    • In the left navigation menu, click “Settings.”
  3. Advanced Settings:

    • Select “Channel” from the left menu.
    • Click “Advanced Settings” in the Channel section.
  4. Linking Accounts:

    • Next to “Google Ads account linking,” click the “Link Account” hyperlink.
    • Enter a descriptive name for the Google Ads account in the “Link Name” field.
    • Paste the Google Ads customer ID copied earlier.
    • Choose account permissions using the check boxes.
    • Click “Done.”
  5. Save Changes:

    • In the Settings window, click “Save.”
  6. Final Steps:

    • Log back into your Google Ads account.
    • Navigate to the main screen of your customer account.
    • Click “Tools & Settings” in the top menu, then choose “Linked Accounts” under Settings.
    • Find YouTube in the list, click “Details.”
    • In the Link Requests table, locate your YouTube channel, and click “View Request.”
    • Click “Approve” to link your YouTube and Google Ads accounts.

Congratulations! Your Google Ads account is now linked to your YouTube channel, and your settings are saved.

Step 3. Determine Your Ad Targets

Before you launch your ad campaign, figure out where you want your ads to appear. This is called ad targeting. Google Ads offers powerful targeting options that you can organize into separate ad groups within a campaign.

Running a YouTube ad campaign is different from traditional ads in magazines or TV. It’s an ongoing process where you can tweak and improve your ad performance during the campaign. This may involve adjusting your targets.

You can create multiple ad groups during a campaign, so don’t try to cover everything at once. You can always update your targeting after the campaign starts.

To start with YouTube TrueView advertising, understand the basics of ad targeting. The default Google Ads setup allows you to target based on:

  1. People: Define who you want to reach.

    • Demographics: Choose audience characteristics like age, gender, parental status, and household income.
    • Audiences: Identify viewer characteristics and interests. Reach viewers interested in a specific content category, even if they’re watching unrelated content.
  2. Content: Choose where you want your ads to show on YouTube.

    • Keywords: Target videos relevant to specific keywords you choose.
    • Topics: Focus on specific content categories on YouTube or the Google Display Network (GDN).
    • Placements: Create a list of YouTube channels, videos, websites, or pages where you want your ad to appear.

When targeting people, consider demographics and audience characteristics. For content, use keywords, topics, or specific placements to make sure your ad shows up in the right places.

Step 3. Set Up Your Ad Campaign

Unfortunately, no one has yet invented a robot that sets up YouTube video ads for you. The process might sound a bit complicated at first because Google Ads is quite powerful, but it’s fairly easy to start your first campaign. To set up a new YouTube ad, follow these steps:

  1. Log in: Go to https://ads.google.com and log in.

  2. Access Campaigns: Click on the “Campaigns” tab in your Google Ads account.

  3. Create a New Campaign: Hit the big blue Plus Sign (+) on the Table toolbar, choose + New Campaign.

  4. Choose Campaign Goal: Pick the “Product and Brand Consideration” campaign goal.

  5. Select Campaign Type: Choose “Video” as your campaign type.

  6. Choose Campaign Subtype: Under campaign subtype, pick “Influence Consideration” and click Continue.

  7. Name Your Campaign: Enter a name for your campaign in the Campaign Name field.

  8. Set Budget: Decide on your budget type (total or daily) and enter the amount.

  9. Ad Delivery Method: Choose between “Standard” (evenly spread) or “Accelerated” (rapid) delivery.

  10. Select Networks: Decide where you want your ads shown, such as in-stream video ads or video discovery ads.

  11. Pick Locations: Choose your target location, whether it’s worldwide or specific cities.

  12. Inventory Type: Use this setting to avoid your ads appearing on sensitive or controversial content.

  13. Device Settings: Specify the devices on which your ad can appear from the Additional Settings drop-down menu.

  14. Schedule Your Ad: Set the start and end dates, along with the days and times for your ad to run.

Step 4: Create an ad group and set up targeting

Once you’ve set up your basic preferences, it’s time to decide who will see your ad. To make sure you’re not too focused on a narrow audience, we suggest creating a distinct ad group for each targeting type.

Here’s how you can set the audience for your first ad group:

  1. Give your ad group a name in the “Ad Group Name” field.
  2. Choose your demographic targeting. You can pick age, gender, parental status, or household income by checking or unchecking the respective categories. Keep in mind that household income might not be available in all countries.
  3. Include audience targeting. Look for specific terms, phrases, or website URLs to find relevant audience targets for your campaign. You can also check the full list of available audience types by clicking on the “Browse” option in the Audience Targeting submenu. Once you’ve chosen a few targets, explore the Ideas submenu tab for additional suggestions based on your settings

Step 5: Create a YouTube Ad

With the campaign and ad group targeting settings completed, you must now associate one or more ads with your campaign. Here’s how to get that scintillating ad of yours in front of your viewers:

  1. Set Maximum CPV Bid:

    • Enter the highest amount you’re willing to pay for each view in the “Maximum CPV bid” field. Start with 5 cents and adjust later if needed.
  2. Top Content Bid Adjustment:

    • Adjust your bid for top content, which includes popular YouTube and GDN content. This bid can range from 0 to 500 percent of your initial bid.
  3. Add Your YouTube Video:

    • Paste the YouTube video URL into the “Your YouTube Video” field. Make sure your video is uploaded to your YouTube channel and is either public or unlisted.
  4. Select Video Ad Format:

    • Choose between skippable in-stream or video discovery ad formats. Create separate video ads if you plan to use the same video in different formats.
  5. Configure In-Stream Ad (if chosen):

    • Fill in the required fields for in-stream ad configuration.
  6. Name Your Ad:

    • Enter a descriptive name for your ad to easily identify it later.
  7. Create Campaign:

    • Click the “Create Campaign” button. Review the campaign summary on the next page and click “Continue to Campaign.”
  8. Add More Ad Groups (optional):

    • If you want to create additional ad groups with different targeting, click the big blue Plus Sign (+) button.
  9. Verify Ad Status:

    • Check the Ads & Extensions tab to ensure your new ad appears if your billing is set up correctly.

Remember these tips:

  • Regularly monitor your ad performance after Google approves them.
  • Pause a campaign if needed by going to the Campaigns tab, selecting the campaign, clicking Edit, and then choosing Pause.
  • Avoid removing an ad as you can’t recover it later.

Keep an eye on your campaigns to make small improvements and boost your overall performance.

Step 6: Measure Clicks and Results

Regularly tracking the performance of your campaign is essential for success. If you don’t pay attention, you may be spending ad dollars for ineffective views, or you might miss out on interesting opportunities to reach your audience. 

Fortunately, the YouTube ad management tool gives you all the important numbers you need in order to manage your campaign.

When you analyze your campaign results, it’s important to understand the following distinction:

  • Paid metrics: Represent the direct results of your ads, such as ad views and the average cost per view
  • Earned metrics: Can be thought of as the follow-on activities that occur as a result of your ads, including new subscribers and additional channel views

Both sets of metrics are important to advertisers and YouTube channel managers because they tell them whether their ad money is being spent effectively.

You’re charged for paid metrics, not for earned metrics. If your video ad results in a viewer visiting your channel and watching ten more videos, you paid for 1 view and received 10 for free. In other words, that’s 11 views for the price of 1.

How Much Do YouTube Ads Cost to Run?

On average, YouTube ads usually cost between 11 to 50 cents per view. Businesses usually set a daily budget of $10, but there’s no minimum spending requirement. So, how much you spend depends on the daily budget you choose for your ad campaign.

To give you an idea, reaching 100,000 viewers typically costs around $2,000.

Best Tips To Optimize Your YouTube Ad Campaign

If you check your reports often, you can find chances to make your campaign better.

If the results aren’t what you hoped for, think about what you can change. You might need to spend more money, adjust your bid settings, target a different group of people, or change your ad. After your campaign has some data, rethink each decision you made to see what’s working and what’s not.

1. Tweak your creative

When you launch your first campaign, you may be using only one video ad. As data comes in, look to see how it’s performing and consider

  • Test Variations: Make small edits to try different versions of your video ad.

  • Experiment with Titles and Thumbnails: Try out different titles and thumbnails to see what attracts more attention.

  • Strong Call to Action: Make sure your ad has a compelling call to action to encourage clicks.

  • Evaluate TrueView Usage: If using TrueView, monitor how many viewers are skipping the ad.

  • Learn and Apply: Develop insights about what worked or didn’t, and use these lessons to inform the creation of your next video ad.

2. Experiment with ad formats

Discovering the most effective ad format involves some experimentation. If you’ve created a video ad for a specific format, like TrueView, consider adapting it for other formats. Here’s a simple breakdown:

  • Shorten Your Video: Create a 15-second version of your ad for a quick and impactful message.

  • Bumper Ad for Mobile: Make an even shorter 6-second bumper ad, ideal for mobile devices.

  • Longer Video: If viewers are watching your ad to completion, consider making a longer version. This indicates audience interest.

  • Companion Display Ads: Run display ads alongside your video to reinforce your message and encourage clicks during playback.

3. Target new audiences

To boost your campaign’s success, focus on enhancing your video ad creativity and making the most of available ad formats. Another key aspect is reaching the right audience. Here’s how you can refine your targeting settings:

  • Demographic Targeting: Aim your ads at specific groups using demographics like gender, age, and household income.

  • Affinity Targeting: Tailor your ads to people with specific interests and habits to create a more engaged audience.

  • In-Market Audiences, Life Events, and Custom Intent: Connect with potential customers based on their current interests, life events, and purchase intentions.

  • Remarketing: Tap into the power of targeting those who’ve interacted with you before. This method can be highly effective in re-engaging with your audience.

4. Modify campaign settings

In Google Ads, tweaking various settings can significantly influence your outcomes. The way you structure your campaign is crucial. Here are some tips:

  • Broad Targeting: Initially, aim to reach a wide audience by targeting all relevant locations, languages, and devices. This helps you discover who responds best. You can refine your targeting later.

  • Automated Management: Allow Google to handle options automatically whenever possible. Google optimizes your campaign delivery according to your goals, ensuring efficiency.

  • Avoid Overly Limiting Options: Don’t restrict your campaign too much in the beginning. Keeping things broad can help you identify the best settings over time. It allows for flexibility and adjustments based on performance.

5. Alter bidding and budgets

The performance of your campaign can come down to the basic issue of budget. My last recommendation for optimization, after exhausting all others, is to increase your budget. If you make a great ad, choose smart targeting options, and set up your campaign but it’s not delivering, your bidding strategy and budgets may need to change. For example, if your ad is performing but isn’t reaching enough people, increasing your budget can help get your ad in front of more people. 

Here are a few changes you can make to your bidding and budgets:

  • Test small bid increases to see if more people notice your ad. You don’t have to make a big budget jump right away.

  • Check if your daily budget is sufficient. If your video ad is shown in the morning and uses up your budget, adding more daily budget can increase its visibility throughout the day.

  • If you’re narrowing down your audience, consider raising your bids to ensure success in the auction and reach your desired audience. A more focused audience often requires a more competitive bid.

  • If your bids aren’t winning in a competitive area, think about increasing both your budgets and bids. Alternatively, consider targeting less competitive audiences to achieve better results.

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