Why advertise on YouTube? That question is easy to answer if you consider  the stats. YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine, it’s the second-most trafficked website next to Google, and it has more than 1.9 billion logged-in users monthly. Collectively, YouTube users watch over 1 billion hours of video on the platform every day. And over 96% of U.S. internet users, ages 18 to 44, watch videos on YouTube.

So how can you connect with all these people by advertising on YouTube? Answering that question is a bit more complicated because there are different options. Here’s an overview of the three types of YouTube ads:

TrueView Ads

YouTube’s ad platform is Google’s TrueView — and the value it offers marketers is that it’s “built on the promise that you’ll only pay when someone chooses to watch your video ad.” That means marketers are only charged when a user watches a TrueView ad for at least 30 seconds or takes some action at the end of the video, whichever comes first. Also, because viewers choose to watch the video ads, it’s a good bet that they’re actually interested in the content.

TrueView ads are YouTube’s standard ad type, and they come in two flavors:

  • Video ads, formerly known as “in-stream video ads,” which run before, during and after YouTube videos. These ads play before a viewer watches a selected video on YouTube; in most cases, viewers can skip the ad after five seconds.
  • Video discovery ads, previously known as “in-display ads,” which appear, as their name suggests, in areas where viewers are discovering content: in search results, in suggested videos and on the YouTube mobile homepage. (By the way, more than 70% of YouTube watch time comes from mobile devices, according to YouTube.)

Non-Skippable Video Ads

Users viewing a YouTube video may encounter non-skippable video ads in either the pre-roll, mid-roll or post-roll phase of the main video. These ads can be up to 15-20 seconds long. That isn’t much time to sell a message, which is why these ads often feature a CTA designed to motivate users to act while they’re (hopefully) paying attention.

Google reports in the YouTube Help Center that it uses “a range of signals, including content type, and how a user discovered the video, to help determine the best time to serve a video ad.” It also says that non-skippable ads, which are sold on a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) basis, may generate higher CPMs than other YouTube ad formats.

Bumper Ads

These six-second, non-skippable video ads appear before a user can watch a selected video on YouTube. Bumper ads typically complement larger video campaigns, often serving as teasers for longer video ads.

YouTube is now in the process of testing a new “Bumper Machine” tool which will allow marketers to quickly and easily create an array of bumper ads from existing video ads that are 90 seconds or less. (See the GrubHub example in this article to get a sense of what the Bumper Machine can produce.)

For more on YouTube’s video ads and how they work, see this page. You can also find an overview of YouTube advertising formats here.

4 Super-Quick Tips for Creating Effective Video Ads on YouTube

Now that you have an idea of the video ad formats you can use on YouTube currently, here are a few best practices to help ensure your ads are effective:

  1. Deliver your most important messages early in the video (just in case viewers’ skip out before the ad is done playing).
  1. Have a clear call-to-action within your ad so viewers know exactly where you want them to go and what you want them to do.
  1. Tell a compelling story. (It’s possible to do this even in six-second bumper ads.)
  1. Most important: Be memorable by creating videos that are surprising, inspiring, funny as heck, cry-worthy, or even just a bit weird. (Interactive can be a good strategy, too.)

You’ll find plenty of examples on YouTube to inspire you, of course. Also, check out these useful tips and examples on Think with Google for creating effective ads.

Targeting Audiences on YouTube

The memorable ad content you will work so hard to create for YouTube needs to get in front of the right audience, at the right time. Some of the targeting methods for video ads on the video-sharing platform include:

  • Demographic groups: You can choose the age, gender, parental status, or household income of the audience you want to reach.
  • Affinity audiences: You can raise brand awareness by reaching people who already have a strong interest in relevant topics.
  • Custom affinity audiences: You can create custom audiences that are more tailored to your brands.
  • In-market audiences: You can identify customers who are researching products and actively considering buying a service or product like those you offer.
  • Custom intent audiences: You can reach viewers as they’re making a purchase decision based on the keywords they’ve recently searched on Google.com.

Google recently announced that it will be combining customer affinity and customer intent so that marketers can build “custom audiences” and target prospects based on interests and behaviors. Marketers also will be able to use a new audience expansion tool to create very specific or broad parameters when building custom audiences for their campaigns.For more information on audience targeting, visit this page.  

Another strategy for targeting the right audiences on YouTube is by creating “lookalike audiences” with data from your call tracking platform. For example, you can use conversion data from Invoca to build lookalike audiences that behave like your most valuable customers but have never connected with your brand before. That allows you to expand your audience to just the right people — and optimize your conversion rates and spending on YouTube. (Note: You can do this on Facebook and with Google Ads, too. Learn more in this ebook from Invoca.)

Get Attribution and Create Custom Audiences on YouTube With Invoca

If you’re using YouTube video ads to drive phone calls to your business, you’ll want to be able to attribute calls and resulting sales to the specific ads that drove them. By using a call tracking and analytics platform like Invoca, you can attribute conversions that come from your YouTube ads. Using customer data from Invoca and its integration with Google Display & Video 360, you can also enhance your digital marketing programs by targeting, suppressing, or creating look-alike audiences based on call converters or non-converters on YouTube through AdWords Customer Match. This allows you to optimize your marketing spend and create a better customer experience with a complete picture of your customers’ actions.

This post presents some basic information for getting started with video advertising on YouTube. That said, if you are only just getting started, you may want to pick up the pace. YouTube video advertising has been around for more than a decade, but it’s expanding and evolving fast as more brands shift their focus toward reaching consumers around the globe through this popular platform. And they’re experimenting with mobile, interactive and other emerging video ad formats, too.

So, get a handle on the basics fast and you can start reaching your target audiences, and engaging entirely new customers within YouTube’s nearly 2 billion-strong community of active monthly users.

Download the PPC Tactics Ebook now


Jane Irene Kelly

Posted by Jane Irene Kelly

Jane Irene Kelly is a business and technology writer with more than two decades of experience. Her previous leadership roles in publishing include San Francisco bureau chief for Adweek magazine. Jane is a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. She resides in Pennsylvania but keeps a piece of her heart in San Francisco.

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