The Definitive Guide to Youtube Marketing (2021)

By Payperlead on Jan 4, 2021

The internet has created countless opportunities for our species. From being able to learn about anything with a few search terms to being able to connect to friends across the world, the worldwide web has expanded our horizons immensely.

Every industry has been impacted by our increasing dependence on the digital world, and marketing has seen some of the most dramatic changes.

With over two billion visitors per month, Youtube is one of the most-visited sites on the internet, and that gives it immense potential for advertisers. Ever since Google acquired Youtube on November 13th, 2006, they’ve been expanding the platform’s potential for advertising, sometimes to a controversial degree.

For all of its potential, marketing on Youtube isn’t as simple as Google might make it seem, though it is more straightforward than advertising on some of the web’s other top social networks. We’ve put together this guide so you can have a one-stop resource to access everything you need to know about Youtube marketing.

What is Youtube?

At its heart, Youtube is a video sharing website. Out of the many video sharing websites that popped up around the mid-2000s, Youtube was the most successful one, leading to Google’s eventual takeover. While Youtube may have started off as a simple video hosting website, it has since evolved into so much more than that.

Youtube is a unique amalgamation of a video hosting site and a social network, with features of the latter being steadily added throughout the site’s lifespan. Youtube’s content creators are known as Youtubers, and many of them have a fiercely-loyal following.

One of the most notable things about Youtube is the immense potential for success that it offers to both content creators and marketers. Many people have made their careers off of their Youtube channels, and just as many marketers have brought their products into the public eye because of it.

How Does Youtube Work?

Before we get into the details of how you can make the most of your Youtube marketing campaign, we’re going to cover some of the basics about the site. After all, it’s essential to know how the platform operates and what to expect from the community before you dive right into the deep end.


cat videos on youtube

Videos are the main attraction on Youtube, and they’re the reason that the site exists in the first place. Videos on Youtube can be animated or live-action, and they don’t even need to focus on visuals, like with music lyric videos. Creating a Youtube video is a relatively simple thing, and it’s even easier if you already have the clip you want to upload.

The first thing to do before you upload a video clip to Youtube is to ensure that it meets all of the required specifications and that it’s compatible for upload to the site. Google provides a list of guidelines to follow to ensure that your video is the proper format and size to be uploaded to Youtube.

When videos are uploaded, they can either be liked or disliked by the community and by default, Youtube will display and compare the total number of each of them. Videos are also ranked according to the number of views that they get, and Youtube’s algorithm favors videos that have a large number of views soon after being uploaded.

Getting a video to the top of Youtube is all about conserving this momentum. As more people see the video within a short timespan, Youtube will show that video to more people through their feed or their related videos.


Channels are Youtube’s equivalent of accounts, and every user on the platform has one, even if they don’t upload any videos to it. Most channel pages will contain a short intro video that gives the visitor an idea of what the channel’s about, as well as a user’s most recent uploads and any playlists that they’ve created.

You can also edit your channel with a custom logo and a banner along the top, allowing you to make it stand out while also providing a convenient branding opportunity. Each channel also has a community section that acts as a social media corner, including updates and other posts that users can comment on.

Since Youtube rewards channel growth, the main goal for most channels looking to expand is to amass more and more subscribers. The easiest way to do this is to create engaging content that people want to see more of.


Comments are the next part of the Youtube experience, and no video would be complete without them (except for the many videos that have their comments disabled). It is up to the video uploader to determine whether or not they want to allow the Youtube community to share their opinions.

While Youtube’s comments have historically been seen as dens of toxicity and arguments, comment sections have been cleaned up considerably in recent years. This is a similar trend across all of Youtube, as the platform has been sanitized to appeal to more advertisers who may not want to be associated with the site’s prior negativity.

Much like videos, comments can be liked or disliked by the rest of the community, and the comments at the top of a video are typically the highest-rated ones. Comments can also be reported for harassment or other violations of the terms of service, and video creators can delete specific comments.


youtube subscribe button

Subscribers are the equivalent of followers on other social networks, and when someone subscribes to you on Youtube, you are included in their home feed. If this isn’t enough, a user can also click the notification bell to be notified every time a subscribed channel releases a video or makes a post.

Subscribers are an integral part of a channel’s health, and content creators are always looking for ways to boost their subscriber count. If you’re trying to market your products through Youtube organically, then your account’s subscriber count will be just as essential to your success.

It is customary to end Youtube videos by reminding people who are interested in your content to subscribe, so be sure to include this detail in the end cards of the clips that you upload. While a channel’s subscriber count is a relative measure of its success, it isn’t the only thing that matters.


Playlists allow you to compile several videos together, and they make it easier for people to watch uploaded clips that are similar to each other. For example, musicians will upload playlists of all of the songs on a particular album while video game streamers may have playlists of a particular game.

One of the best things about playlists is that they don’t necessarily need to include your own videos. You can create playlists of other people’s videos that interest you and are related. If you’re trying to grow organically on Youtube, having people save your videos to their playlists can give you some additional exposure.

Since many users can sit down and watch a whole playlist for hours, they provide ample opportunity for users to run into ads. The popularity of music playlists on Youtube means that most ads should have an audio element that works just as well on its own as it does when accompanied by a video.

Live Videos

While Youtube isn’t known primarily as a live streaming service, it has implemented live videos, and they are quickly gaining traction on the platform. Everything from sporting events to the latest political addresses can be seen live on Youtube, some of which are free and others of which are paid.

Much like with other live streams, Youtube allows the viewers to chat as the video progresses, and this creates a new layer of engagement with a channel’s community. Streams are also used in organic Youtube marketing, primarily for events like product launches or others where a live broadcast would be preferable.

Once a live video has ended, it can typically be rewatched like a normal Youtube video. The only difference is in how the comments are presented, as streams will also show a replay of the chat at the time you’ve reached in the video.

Youtube Channel vs. Google Ads Account

While a Youtube channel will allow you to upload your own videos and participate in the community like anyone else, it isn’t required to run ads on the platform. If you want to pay Youtube for advertising, then you’ll have to create a Google Ads account.

While a Google Ads account can be used to manage your marketing on Youtube, it is also used to advertise all across Google’s network, so there’s a possibility that you already have one. If that’s the case, starting a Youtube campaign is as simple as logging in and selecting it as the platform that you want to market on.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to choose between organic marketing on a Youtube channel and paid ads on a Google Ads account. Most brands will take a two-pronged approach where they take advantage of both strategies, seeing which one works best for them in the long run.

google adwords

Linking a Channel to a Google Ads Account

While these two types of Youtube marketing may be distinct, Google is aware that advertisers use both approaches to their advantage and even makes it easier for them. It is possible to link your Google Ads account to your Youtube channel to maximize your effectiveness.

Along with making it easier to run paid ads on your own channel, linking your accounts allows you to integrate your channel metrics with your marketing analytics. You can see how people on your channel interact with your ads, including their engagement and your rate of conversions.

Being able to see your organic metrics makes it a lot easier to compare your two marketing approaches, and you can see just how much of an improvement you get through your paid ads. You can either link your account through Youtube or through your Google Ads account settings, and Google provides a handy guide here.

Youtube Ad Types

trueview program

There are a few different types of ads that you can run on Youtube, but all of the jargon that Google uses to explain them can make things seem a bit more confusing than they are. Along with both types of TrueView ads, you can also publish non-skippable ads, bumper ads, display ads, and overlay ads.

TrueView Ads

Youtube’s TrueView ads are their most popular option, and they use a unique pricing method where you don’t necessarily pay per impression (CPM), like on most other social media networks.

The key to TrueView ads is that the marketer only pays Youtube if the viewer watches the ad for 30 seconds or until the video ends. Youtube will also be paid if the user engages with the advertisement, such as clicking on the link or CTA (Call To Action) that has been attached to it.

Since TrueView ads only tend to charge for engagements instead of impressions, they promise to offer more value for money than other ad types.

Skippable In-Stream Ads

As you may be able to deduce from the name, a skippable in-stream ad is one that can be skipped by the viewer and plays during a video stream. Viewers have to watch the first five seconds of the ad before they are allowed to skip through it, and this is meant to give the ad enough time to hook the viewer’s attention.

These ads can show up at any point during the video, though most of them will show up at the beginning (pre-roll) or part way through the video (mid-roll). Pre-roll skippable ads tend to be more popular because they don’t break up the flow of a video, but mid-roll ads are more common in long videos.

While skippable ads can be relatively long, most advertisers will keep them below three minutes long to ensure that viewers will be willing to watch them in their entirety. Remember that these ads aren’t designed to be commercials: they need to grab the viewer’s attention and do something with it fast.

Discovery Ads

Discovery ads are the second type of TrueView ad, and they’re less like commercials and more like standalone videos that work similarly to Google’s search engine ads. These ads are still video clips, and when someone clicks on them, they’re brought to the ad video accompanied by either a link or a CTA.

Discovery ads will show up in a few different places, including search results when they’re related to the term that you searched for.

These ads can also show up on the view page for a video that you’re already watching, often in the recommended videos. A user can even see discovery ads on their home feed if the ads line up with their interests.

You only pay for a discovery ad when a user clicks on it, and you won’t be charged for when people see it and ignore it.

Non-Skippable In-Stream Ads

Non-skippable ads also play before or during a video, but they don’t fall into the category of TrueView ads because users have to watch the full duration of the ad. These kinds of ads use the more traditional system of paying per impression (CPM), though they are limited to a maximum of 15 to 20 seconds.

The limit on an unskippable ad’s duration is dependent on where it is aired, as countries like Mexico and India have a longer limit while ads in countries like the USA or France are capped at 15 seconds. Non-skippable ads may not be as cost-effective as TrueView ads, but they ensure that potential customers will see your message every time.

Since many users on Youtube automatically skip ads, a non-skippable ad may be able to spread the word about your product to someone who never would have heard about it otherwise. Many Youtube marketers prefer to mix non-skippable ads into their campaigns to reach the broadest possible audience.

Like with skippable ads, these clips can be played before the video as a pre-roll or during the video as a mid-roll.

Bumper Ads

Bumper ads are closely related to non-skippable ads, though the main difference is that they’re shorter. These ads are limited to only six seconds, so they have to be well-made and utilize every second properly, or the audience won’t know what they just watched.

These ads are frequently used by larger companies that already have something of a following. When your name is more recognizable, a bumper ad can act as a way to reinforce your brand in the viewer’s mind without having to devote the time and resources to a full-length advertisement.

Much like the previous types of ads, bumper ads can show up in the pre-roll, the mid-roll, and the post-roll (though the post-roll is a rare place for an ad since users can just navigate to another video).

Display Ads

Display ads are one of the more simple types of ads you can host on Youtube, and they contain no video component, instead consisting of an image, some copy, and a CTA. These ads can appear in the related videos section, and they are often related to the topic of the video that you’re watching.

While display ads are less engaging than other forms of Youtube advertising, they can be effective if they’re targeted properly. You want to make sure that your targeting for display ads isn’t too broad, as you won’t want them to be featured on generally unrelated videos if you want them to succeed.

Overlay Ads

Overlay ads are the second type of non-video ad you can publish on Youtube, and they are overlaid on top of videos while you watch them. Once again, these ads aren’t as engaging as video marketing, but they require fewer resources to put together, typically consisting of a link and a bit of copy.

As with the display ads, overlay ads are dependent on the quality of their targeting to succeed, as they must be overlaid on related videos that already have the viewer interested in the topic. Try to predict what a user would search for after watching a video if you want your overlay ads to succeed.

Youtube Ad Specifications

youtube ad specs

Each ad type has various specifications that need to be followed if you want to be able to upload your clip successfully. While a few of them use the same specifications as standard Youtube videos, there are some details that differ between ad videos and basic Youtube uploads.

Skippable Ad Specifications

Skippable ads can be played before, during, and after a video. They can come included with a CTA that’s 10 characters long and a headline that’s 15 characters long. You can also include a banner to be displayed alongside the ad, and its dimensions must be 300×60 pixels. Video length can range between 12 seconds and 30 minutes.

Non-Skippable Ad Specifications

Non-skippable ads share a lot of similarities with their skippable counterparts, including the times at which they can be played and the maximum characters in the headline and CTA. The difference is that non-skippable ads can only be a maximum of 15 seconds long (or 20 seconds in some countries).

Bumper Ad Specifications

Once again, bumper ads can be played before, during, and after videos, and they can include a CTA and headline of the same length as the previous two ads. Bumper ads work using the CPM pricing scheme, and they’re limited to a max duration of six seconds.

Discovery Ad Specifications

Discover ads share many specifications with standard Youtube videos, and one of the only limits is that they’re a minimum of 12 seconds long. With discovery ads, you pay on a CPC basis and are allowed a headline of up to 100 characters and two descriptions of up to 35 characters each.

The Advantages of Advertising on Youtube

Compared to other social media platforms, Youtube has a few advantages that make it a better choice for marketers. While this hasn’t always been the case, Google has worked hard to turn Youtube into a more attractive domain for advertisers, and they seem to be doing a good job of it.

The reasons why so many marketers use Youtube include the sheer amount of ad space that the platform offers, its detailed metrics, and the ease of precisely targeting your audience. Of course, Youtube’s TrueView pricing and the advantages of visual marketing also play a significant role.

Ad Space and Reach

youtube user count

One of the main reasons why so many marketers flock to Youtube is because it can offer them unparalleled reach. The potential audience on Youtube is immense, and it brings in traffic from every corner of the world, ensuring that you aren’t working with a geographically-limited audience.

Being able to access so many different markets means that potential Youtube advertisers can tailor the specifics of their campaign to attract countless different kinds of customers. Along with the sheer variety of people to sell your products to on Youtube, there are also so many places to air your ads.

Youtube channels ranging from hundreds to millions of subscribers are dipping their toes into monetization, and this means that you have a huge amount of potential ad space on the platform. Thanks to a perpetually-growing user base, Youtube doesn’t look like it’s going to run out of ad space anytime soon.

Precise Audience Targeting

Youtube also makes it much easier for you to select your target audience as precisely as possible, and this is because they’re backed by Google. Google has some of the most detailed data about its users’ search habits and interests, ensuring that you can target people accurately and meaningfully.

While many other platforms will try to guess a user’s interests, Google tends to know exactly what its users want. Since Youtube is only one part of Google Ads, users may be sharing their interests with Google while they’re using the search engine or browsing one of countless other sites.

All of this information allows Google to paint a more accurate picture of what someone potentially likes or wants to purchase soon. When this information is integrated into an advertising campaign, it allows ads to target people who are much more likely to engage with the product or service.

Only Pay for Engagements

The TrueView pricing scheme is another part of what makes marketing on YouTube such an attractive proposition. While other platforms make you pay for impressions (views) of an ad, Youtube will only charge you if someone engages with it or watches the ad for a certain amount of time.

This will likely make your marketing efforts more cost-effective, as you’ll be more likely to get results every time you pay for an ad. Keep in mind that TrueView pricing isn’t available for every type of ad on Youtube, but it works with skippable in-stream ads (which are the most popular ad type on the platform).

The Effectiveness of Visual Marketing

Another crucial thing to consider about Youtube marketing is that nearly all ads on the platform are of a visual nature. Second to infographics, videos, and similar forms of visual marketing have the highest success rate, ensuring that your audience is more likely to respond positively to your marketing.

Videos allow you to show a product in use, and it makes it a lot easier for the viewer to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and imagine themselves using your product or service. For all of its potential effectiveness, visual marketing is not without its potential pitfalls, of course.

The main downside of video marketing is that it is more expensive than other forms of advertising. While the cost of producing high-quality videos has steadily declined in the last couple of decades, it still takes a bit of an investment to create a competitive and engaging ad.

Getting Started with Youtube Ads

To make the most of Youtube’s monetized aspects, you’ll need to come up with a plan for your advertising campaign and then set it in motion. This section will cover all of the relevant details of getting an ad campaign started on the platform, including campaign goals, targeting, pricing, and more.

Selecting Your Campaign Goal

The first thing you’ll have to do is determine the goal of your campaign (or not define one at all). A campaign goal will help Google Ads optimize various aspects of your advertising to ensure that your marketing efforts get the intended result. Your goals can range from increasing website traffic to encouraging sales.


A campaign based around sales will position your ads in areas where viewers tend to make purchases shortly after seeing ads. This can maximize the number of people who purchase a product or service from you, but it may not be as effective at spreading the word about your company.

Website Traffic

If you’ve recently launched a new site or would merely like to boost the number of people who visit an existing site, you may prefer the website traffic campaign goal. This can help drive more people to your site, and it will prioritize users who will engage with the content on that site they’re linked to.


A campaign that targets leads will be a little less picky than other kinds of campaigns, merely targeting people who are most likely to be potential customers. This goal won’t specialize the positioning of your ads based on what people will do when they engage, merely focusing on the likelihood of them engaging in the first place.

Brand Awareness

The brand awareness goal exists to spread word about a company and get their name in as many people’s ears as possible. Campaigns of this type will try to avoid remarketing so they can ensure that a larger number of unique users will see it. This is an ideal strategy for relatively new and lesser-known companies.

Product and Brand Consideration

This goal encourages people to learn more about your product and your brand, so it will focus on grabbing their attention and getting them to engage with your ads. Campaigns of this type will target users who are more likely to explore your site once they’ve engaged with the ad.

No Campaign Goal

You can also opt for no campaign goal if what you want to accomplish with your ads isn’t included in the list of predefined goals. This can help ensure that the system isn’t working against you if you’re trying to manually target your ads to reach a very specific audience.

Selecting Your Campaign Type

Once you’ve selected your campaign goal, you’ll also have to pick the kind of advertising campaign you want to start. There are two forms of Google Ads campaign types that allow you to post ads to Youtube: display campaigns and video campaigns. Each of these campaign types will influence where your ads show up, so be sure to pick the correct one.


If you want to upload video ads to Youtube, then you’ll have to select the video campaign type. As you’d expect from the name, a video campaign is based primarily on video uploads and visual marketing, leaning heavily on Youtube instead of other places in the Google Ad network.

This is the kind of campaign that 90% of marketers will use on Youtube, especially if they want to create in-stream ads. Video campaigns also have subtypes based on the kind of video ads you want to post to Youtube. For example, you can specialize your campaign for skippable in-stream ads, bumper ads, and much more.


Display ads are a little more versatile than video ad campaigns because you’re a lot less limited to Youtube. While display ads can still show on Youtube, they can also show on other sites that run Google Ads, allowing you to target a much wider potential audience than on Youtube alone.

Keep in mind that you’ll only be able to run display ads on Youtube with this kind of campaign type, so you won’t be able to create any video ads without creating an entirely new campaign. Since these ads just contain a bit of copy and a thumbnail, they’re a lot easier to create than video ads.

Smart Bidding Strategy

Google Ads features a smart bidding system that makes it easier for you to select how you want to pay for your campaign based on the kind of goal that you’re shooting for. Smart bidding uses machine learning to optimize the amount you pay at auction based on a wide range of factors, and it tends to work more efficiently than a person could.

There are five strategies used in the smart bidding system, and each of them has a different goal and a different way of setting the ideal pricing.

The Target cost per action (CPA) smart bidding strategy is used to increase the number of conversions you get without overspending on your marketing campaign. It allows you to select a specific CPA that you’re willing to pay, and the system will fill in all the blanks to make sure that number works as best as it can.

Target return on ad spend (ROAS) works best if you aren’t targeting the conversions themselves, but you want more value per conversion.

The Maximize conversions option is similar to the CPA setting, but it will instead spend your entire allocated budget instead of basing it on CPA. This typically works best for fast and aggressive campaigns that you want to see results from soon.

Maximize conversion value works similarly to the maximize conversions goal, but it is instead the full-budget variation of the ROAS smart bidding technique.

Enhanced cost per click (ECPC) is a hybrid of smart bidding and manual bidding, as it will automatically adjust the bidding values that you have entered manually. This gives you some degree of control over the bids but will keep them as competitive as possible automatically.


When you set your maximum daily budget, Google Ads actually interprets it as your maximum monthly budget because this allows them to overdeliver on certain days. This means that certain days will go over your maximum daily budget, but this evens out over the course of a month because some days will be below the threshold.

Google takes your max daily budget and multiplies it by 30.4 (the average number of days in a month) to determine the max that you’ll be charged over the period of a month. Google does this because internet traffic is inherently unpredictable, and your marketing would be less efficient if Google didn’t overdeliver on days with high traffic.

If Google ends up overdelivering for a month, then they’ll credit you the additional costs to be used in your next billing cycle. These credits will be used before you are charged for any additional marketing, so you’ll get your money back if you end up being overcharged for the period of a month.

Audience Language and Location

When determining your campaign parameters, you’ll have to select the ideal location and language for your audience. Keep in mind that this has to be selected on a per-campaign basis, so you’ll need to create several marketing campaigns if you want to appeal to potential customers in different areas.

Of course, you can air your ad in as many different countries as you want, but there’s no guarantee that this will be the most successful method. Most of the time, you’ll want to restrict your ad to countries where it will be culturally applicable and in the same language as the official language of that country.

You also don’t want to make the mistake of focusing exclusively on America, as less than ⅕ of Youtube’s users browse the site from the US. While that is still a significant number, you’d be missing out on a large number of potential clients by not potentially broadening your geographical horizons.

Content Exclusions

Content exclusions allow advertisers to determine what kind of content they’re comfortable with their ads being associated with. This will ensure that your ads don’t end up playing before or during something that may not be perceived positively by your potential customers. If you want to protect your brand’s image, selecting the right content exclusion setting is critical.

expanded inventory

Expanded Inventory

The expanded inventory setting is the best option for brands that don’t mind being associated with slightly more sensitive content. Keep in mind that every video will still have to meet Youtube’s monetization standards, so extremely violent or vulgar videos may still be excluded from the expanded inventory option.

The exceptions in this category exist for profanity in the form of comedy or violence in the context of a video game. Since these sensitive topics are present in a more acceptable context, they may not necessarily reflect badly on a brand and would allow them to advertise across more channels.

Standard Inventory

The standard inventory option is the default setting for new Google Ads accounts, and it errs on the side of caution to ensure that your brand isn’t potentially associated with negative content. Google has created this category to be suitable for most major brands, and it will try to publish ads on popular videos like music videos or movie trailers.

While profanity and sensitive situations are allowed sparingly in ads like these, repeated occurrences of sensitive topics may be enough to relegate a video to the expanded inventory section. Youtube has a range of guidelines to determine if a video would fall into the standard inventory.

Limited Inventory

If your brand has a child-friendly image or you don’t want to be associated with any particularly sensitive content, then you can settle for the limited inventory setting. This is the most restrictive filter, and it won’t even allow short instances of sensitive content in monetized videos.

Language and sexually-suggestive content are the primary forms of sensitive content that the limited inventory filter looks for, but violence isn’t far behind. For example, this system will filter out popular music videos that may contain sexual content, and it may not air your ads on movie trailers that contain swearing.

Selecting Your Target Audience

If you want your ads to have the most impact possible, you’ll have to carefully select the target audience that they’re shown to. Youtube gives you a few options to determine the kind of people who see your ads, and they’re a little more detailed than the targeting options on other social media networks.

video targeting


One of the first things to determine is the age range of the people who will see your ads. Age will allow you to broadly predict whether or not someone will be interested in a product, and it requires the least amount of guesswork because users are required to input their age to sign up.


Gender is another sure thing when targeting advertisements since Google accounts also require a user’s gender to sign up (though they can select that they’d prefer not to reveal that info). This setting is particularly helpful for products that are likely to be bought by customers of a particular gender.

Parental Status

Youtube ads can also be targeted based on whether or not someone is a parent, and this setting is indispensable for marketers who work in the maternity and childhood industries. For example, someone who is advertising diapers will have a much higher success rate targeting new parents.


Targeting your ads based on the audience’s income allows you to ensure that the people seeing your ad can afford to purchase the product. Of course, you don’t want to be overzealous when setting the income level targeting, as people at a lower income level may sometimes be willing to purchase more expensive products, as well.

Life Stage

This is one of the more advanced targeting tactics that Google Ads allows you to use, and it is based on where in life someone is. While this may sound similar to the age and parental status settings, it’s a combination of both of them and more.

For example, you can target people who just started attending college if you’re trying to sell school supplies, or you can advertise to new homeowners if you’re selling furniture. Being able to target users based on their life stage makes it a lot easier to get your ads to the right people, but it can also tempt you to make your ads over-specialized.


Much like other sites that use Google Ads, one of the best things about Youtube is how effectively it can target people based on their interests. While other social media networks may have a rough idea of what someone is interested in, Google has all of the info related to its users’ recent searches.

As long as someone uses the Google search engine, then it’s likely that Google knows more about their interests than many other marketing platforms. Using someone’s search and browsing history, Google can determine whether or not someone will be interested in a product before they even know it.

For example, if someone is researching tablets and looking at various models on Google, then they will be a prime candidate for any tablet ads on their platforms like Youtube. Keep in mind that ads that are relevant to people’s interests are far more likely to succeed, even if those ads have lower production values.


Remarketing is a technique that allows you to show your ads to people who have already seen them. This is an effective way to reinforce your message and ensure that your brand sticks in people’s heads, but it will also reduce the number of unique people who see your ads in total.

Youtube allows you to determine whether or not you remarket to people, and your choice depends on what you’re trying to accomplish with your marketing campaign. We will discuss the benefits of negative remarketing in a subsequent section.


You can also target your ads based on the keywords that people use in their Google and Youtube searches. This allows you to be more precise with your targeting, and you’ll have to select the right keywords to ensure that your ads aren’t being shown to too broad of an audience.

Using keywords to determine ad targets is often a good idea if you’re marketing a niche product that people wouldn’t be likely to search in other contexts. For example, someone searching “fly fishing rods” on Youtube is likely to be interested in an ad about a fly fishing rod.

Tips for Making Successful Youtube Ads

There are a few techniques that you can use to ensure that your Youtube ads are as successful as possible, and many of these tips apply to making good videos and not just ads. Since the majority of ads on Youtube come in the form of videos, you’ll need to have a solid grasp of the basics and quality equipment to take the videos in the first place.

A crucial thing to keep in mind is that sound quality often matters more than video quality. It’s a lot harder to tell the difference between 1080p and 4K than it is to tell the difference between a $20 microphone and a $200 microphone.

Displaying Your Ads on the Right Channels

The first thing you’ll have to do is ensure that your ads are being aired on the right channels. While it may be tempting to put your ads up on the most popular channels within your niche, they are sure to have the most competition and will, therefore, have higher rates when bidding to show your ad.

If you want to save money on your marketing campaign, you’ll need to find slightly less popular channels that still have a loyal and consistent following. Keep in mind that the total number of subscribers isn’t as important as the number of subscribers who come back to watch every new video.

Airing Your Ads on Individual Videos

If you find a video that you think is the perfect material for one of your ads, don’t be afraid of trying to air your ad directly on that video. When figuring out the ideal video to air your ad on, you want to make sure that it’s still getting consistent views and that it’s at least tangentially related to your ad.

More important than ensuring that the video is related to the ad, you’ll want to be sure that the audience watching the video consists of the kind of people who would be interested in your product. You may want to scroll through the comments and see what the viewers have to say about a video before airing your ad on it.

Using Search History to Target Your Ads

Youtube, along with all Google Ads platforms, gives you the unique opportunity to target users based on the search terms that they’ve used in the past. While you will surely want to target people who have searched for your kind of product in the past, put some thought into related search terms to include.

For example, someone who is selling smartphone cases may want to target people who have searched for the term “smartphone cases,” but they should also target people who search for a new smartphone. You can get as creative as you want when targeting by search history, but don’t go too deep into it.

Trying to make your ad targeting too precise will make it harder for anyone to see it in the first place, as you’ll lessen the chance of someone meeting all of your criteria.

Are All of Your Ad Placements Performing Well?

It’s also essential to go over your ad placements after your campaign has been running for a little while and review them. This will allow you to see the average performance metrics for your ads and see which of them are outliers, either in a positive sense or in a negative one.

If you notice that an ad placement is outperforming the average, then you may wish to run more ads on that channel or even on that specific video. Also, take the time to figure out what’s different about that channel so you can figure out what it is that makes your ad so successful in the first place.

On the other hand, you’ll also want to see if any of your ads are getting you below-average results and remove their placements from the campaign. If you’re not getting much engagement from an ad, but you’re still paying for it, then you’re just wasting money that could be better-spent advertising elsewhere.

Like when you’re doing well, take the time to study your poor-performing placements and determine what is influencing the ad’s poor reception. This can help you avoid repeating the same mistake and ending up with an ad that has many impressions but little to no engagement.

Tailoring Your Thumbnail

customize thumbnail

When setting up discovery ads, you’ll likely want to include an enticing thumbnail that gives people the urge to click on your ad. Since most people have the habit of ignoring any sponsored ads they see on Youtube, having a thumbnail that pops and grabs their attention can help mitigate that effect.

You can either upload a custom thumbnail that’s related to your video, or you can select the right moment in the video to act as the thumbnail. While coming up with a custom thumbnail in an image editing program is a bit more work, it can typically get you more attention than a simple screengrab.

The issue with screencaps is that they rarely feature the right combination of quality and attention-grabbing aspects. However, this doesn’t mean that screengrabs are always bad, as they may sometimes sum up your video perfectly without you having to do any additional work.

Using Overlays, Buttons, and Banners to Encourage Engagement with Ads

While a quality video may help improve an ad and make it more visually appealing to potential customers, you’ll need to do more than just upload a nice video to get people to engage with you. Customers will rarely ever head to your website of their own accord, even if they ended up liking your ad.

This is why you need to implement CTAs (Call To Actions) in the form of overlays and banners. As the name suggests, this will be overlaid on your ads and will create interactive elements that the viewer can use to engage with your ad further.

In the vast majority of cases, overlay buttons will redirect the ad’s viewer to your site where they can get more info about the product or potentially even purchase it. While these aspects can encourage engagement, you don’t want to overcrowd an ad with them as that will detract from the video itself and cheapen your message.

Negative Remarketing

While remarketing is a great way to get someone to consider your product a second time, there are also benefits to doing the opposite and only targeting people who haven’t seen your ad yet. This is known as negative remarketing, and the effects can often be surprisingly positive.

Consider using negative remarketing if you’re more concerned about spreading awareness about your brand than following up on potential customers who have already seen your ads. While first-time viewers won’t always be likely to follow up with a sale, they’ll be one more person that knows about your brand and can potentially spread the word about it.

Due to its large number of users, negative remarketing on Youtube typically won’t reduce your potential audience by too large of an amount. There are advantages to both remarketing and negative remarketing, and the ideal choice depends on what you’re trying to accomplish with your advertising campaign.

Include Subtitles

subtitles options

While this aspect is frequently overlooked, adding closed captions or subtitles to your ads can help improve their reach and also make them easier to understand. Contrary to what some marketers may believe, subtitles aren’t only used by the hard-of-hearing, and there are many other kinds of viewers who like to keep them on at all times.

Users who are learning a new language may wish to keep the subtitles on to make it easier to understand quick speech. Even people with a perfect grasp of the English language and no hearing troubles may wish to use subtitles just because they make things easier to understand.

Youtube has steadily been ramping up their support for subtitles and closed captioning on their videos, and the same can be said for ads. If you have a copy of the script for your ad, transcribing it into subtitles for Youtube shouldn’t take too long, and the potential benefits can be worth the minimal effort.

Encourage Disinterested Viewers to Skip the Ad if Using TrueView

Since TrueView only charges you for when people watch your ad for a certain period of time or engage with it, it may be a good idea to shoo away disinterested viewers early on. Of course, you never want to be rude about it, so politely inform your audience that you won’t hold it against them if they skip the ad.

Most of the time, someone will decide whether or not they’re interested in an ad within the first five seconds of it running. This is why Youtube makes even skippable ads non-skippable for that amount of time, as it allows viewers to determine whether or not they care about the product or service.

You’ll typically want to tell the viewer to skip the ad if they’re not interested at some point after the five-second mark and some point before the thirty-second mark (when you get charged).

Determine the Ideal Length for Your Ad

If you want your ads to be received as well as possible, you’ll have to come up with the proper length for each of them. While non-skippable ads are limited to 15 seconds, so you don’t get to decide how long they last regardless, Youtube recommends anywhere between 12 seconds and three minutes for their skippable ads.

Most of the time, you’ll want to be closer to the minimum amount of time for an ad than you are to the max amount. This is because most ad viewers don’t have the attention span to sit through an ad that’s several minutes long, especially if they’re on the fence about whether or not they want the product.

If you want to maximize results, you’ll have to see how people engage with your ads and determine what point most of them stop watching it at. This will give you an idea of when you start to lose people’s interest, and it should make it easier to come up with the ideal ad duration.

Give Your Ad an Enticing Hook

One of the most crucial parts of any ad on Youtube is whether or not it can draw the attention of the viewer within the first five seconds. If you haven’t interested someone by the time they can skip your ad, then it’s almost impossible that they’ll keep watching it unless they aren’t physically there to skip it.

This means that your ads need to be made with an interesting enough hook to get people engaged early on. Big brands have experimented with ads like these on Youtube, beginning with something bewildering and nearly completely unrelated before taking a 180 and focusing on the product.

Of course, your hook doesn’t have to be anything quite so dramatic, and a good hook can be something as simple as an artistic shot of the product that you’re selling to get people wondering about it. Try to get others to watch your ads before uploading them to see if your hook truly grabs their attention.

Tell a Story and Don’t Be Afraid to Use Emotion

A common problem that Youtubers run into is that they try to be too “safe” with their advertisements, relying on proven tropes that viewers have seen hundreds of times. If you really want your ad to stick with someone, you have to be willing to take a few chances, and we don’t mean anything reckless.

While you only have a short time in which to do it, don’t be afraid to try and tell a story with your ad. An ad that appeals to people’s emotions and makes them think will be more likely to stay in their head, even if they’re not thinking about the product itself, but rather the ad.

Of course, the kind of story that you can tell will depend on the product that you’re selling, so make sure that your subject matter is fitting and related to what you’re trying to market.

Using Vertical Video for Ads

Another thing that many Youtube advertisers neglect to do is appealing to a mobile audience. With over 70% of the platform’s watch time coming from mobile devices, mobile users not only constitute a huge portion of your viewers; they’re the majority.

That being said, the majority of Youtube ads are still filmed as if they’re meant to be viewed on a landscape display. However, this makes sense when you consider that the videos following these ads will likely be in landscape format as well, so you’ll have to decide which orientation works best.

You should also take a look at channels related to your niche and the orientation that is used in the majority of the videos that your ads will be aired on. If you’re going to be advertising on videos that are predominantly filmed in portrait mode, then it would make sense to publish ads with vertical videos.

Youtube Ad Metrics

ad metrics

Youtube’s ad metrics are some of the most useful statistics that they can give you, and they help marketers determine which of their ads are performing effectively. Having such detailed metrics is part of what makes Youtube such an attractive platform for marketers in the first place.

There are a few different metrics, and some of them may seem a little similar or even contradictory, so let’s go over some of the most crucial ones.

View Rate

Your view rate takes the number of views that you have, and it divides them by the number of impressions you have. While this stat may not be as useful for in-stream ads, it can help you determine how well you’re drawing people in through your discovery ads.

Average CPV

Your average CPV will let you know more about how much money you’re spending to get people to engage with your video (or watch at least 30 seconds of it). Keep in mind that this isn’t the same thing as your max CPV, as that determines your budget per ad view.

Average Watch Time per Impression

This stat lets you know how much time the average viewer watches your ad for each impression that is made. Average watch time per impression can tell you whether people are viewing your ads for a meaningful amount of time or if they’re just glossing over them without absorbing any info.

CTR (Clickthrough Rate)

The CTR for an ad will let you know how frequently people click on it divided by the number of impressions. A higher CTR means that your ad is more engaging, and it’s inspiring more viewers to click on it due to their interest.


Engagements are similar to clicks, but they aren’t identical. An engagement is when someone interacts with an element of your video without leaving the Youtube site. This can either be someone expanding one of the info cards on your video or clicking on a button that brings them to your channel.

Earned Likes and Subscribers

If you have your Google Ads account linked to your Youtube channel, you can also access metrics like your earned likes and subscribers. This will tell you how many likes your videos have gained and how many subscribers your channel has gained because of your ads.

Optimizing Your Youtube Channel for Marketing

Keep in mind that Youtube can offer more to marketers than just a platform to include their ads, as it also allows for organic marketing, much like other social media platforms. Organic marketing is marketing that you don’t pay for because it occurs through using the platform as it was intended.

Anyone can upload their videos to Youtube for free, even if the channel represents a brand and exists to tell you more about its products and latest releases. Using Youtube like this is often complementary to publishing paid ads on the site through Google Ads.

When people see that your brand has an official Youtube account, that adds weight and legitimacy to the name of your brand. Users will also be able to see that you engage with the community on Youtube, and this always has a way of cultivating a more loyal base of followers.

This section will be dedicated to making the most of organic marketing on Youtube, including how to grow your channel and tips about engaging with the community to build up a following.

Demonstration Videos

demo video on youtube

Demonstration videos are a popular choice for brand Youtube channels as they allow you to help the community while you promote your products at the same time. Most demonstration videos will show users how to accomplish a particular task using a product or a line of products.

For example, a skateboard company would publish a demonstration video about how to do a trick, and it would ideally feature one or more of their boards. This way, people who search up how to perform that trick on Youtube can accomplish their goal while also growing the esteem of your brand.

Along with the benefit of putting your products in people’s minds, demonstration videos also help you build up a good reputation with your community. Since you’ll have helped users with your demonstration videos, they will be more loyal to you.

FAQ Videos

faq videos

FAQ videos are another kind of clip that you can upload to Youtube so that you can easily grow your brand’s channel. Go over similar FAQ videos that have been created for your niche so you can see how they’re created and what kind of questions have already been answered.

If you want your FAQ video to be as successful as possible, you’ll have to come up with a relatively original set of questions to answer. Questions that haven’t been answered before will draw more viewers to your video and will also show that your brand is original enough to come up with their own script.

Be sure to include a rundown of the questions asked and answered in the description of your video, as this will help improve your video’s keyword count. Including the questions in the description can also allow you to link to the different points in the video where you answer each question.

Behind the Scenes Videos

Videos from behind the scenes can make your brand more personable, as people will find it easier to imagine themselves in the same work environment. Show your viewers that the people behind your brand are individuals just like themselves, and bloopers can help add some levity to your Youtube channel.

A lot of brands incorporate outtakes into their regular videos, as well. Near the end of a regular video, when you’re going to display the ending card, you can run a few bloopers or other footage from behind the scenes as a way to conclude and segue out of the video.

While publishing one or two behind the scenes videos every little while isn’t a bad strategy; you don’t want your upload feed to start looking stale. We’d recommend spacing out the uploads of your behind the scenes videos, as people can quickly tire of them if you publish too many.

Using Youtube Cards

youtube cards examples

Youtube cards are an essential way to ensure that people engage with your other videos and even subscribe to your channel without having to take the necessary steps themselves. Youtube cards are overlays that can appear during your video at a point that you select.

These cards can either link to other videos that you’ve uploaded, playlists that you’ve put together, or even lead viewers directly back to your account. While there are many different kinds of cards you can add to your videos, you’ll also have to know the right time to include them.

Most Youtubers frown upon poorly-timed Youtube cards, so you should typically only include one part way through the video if it’s related to what you’re saying at that very moment. You also don’t want to include too many cards over the course of a video, reserving most of them for the video’s end screen.

Publish Exclusive Content on Your Youtube Channel

One of the best ways to draw people to your Youtube channel is to release content exclusively on it and on no other social media networks. Mention to your followers that you’ve begun an exclusive series on Youtube, and you’ll be sure to get a few more subscribers who are interested in it.

Even if you’re uploading simple tips and tricks to use your products, people will have to come to your Youtube channel to watch them if you make them exclusive. More people visiting your channel means that you’re more likely to get a few of them to subscribe to you.

Encourage Subscribing with Discount Codes and Contests

Another way to get more people to visit your Youtube channel is to incentivize their subscriptions and video views. Other than exclusive content, you can offer people more tangible benefits for watching your brand’s Youtube videos, and the rewards you offer are up to you.

One of the most common ways that brands encourage engagement with their social media presence is by offering customers discount codes for their products. When customers input these codes, they can get a certain percentage off of something, and the codes are usually valid for a limited time.

Another way to encourage participation in your Youtube channel is by running contests for your subscribers. You can reward the winner with a free product or gift card to your store and make the rest of your subscribers a lot more likely to pay close attention to your announcements in the future.

Comment on Other Videos and Engage with the Community

Using Youtube as a brand is about more than just uploading your own videos and having your community exist in a vacuum. If you want to broaden your brand’s reach, you’ll need to start commenting on other videos and engaging with the Youtube community at large.

Try to browse related channels and leave some positive comments behind to show the community that your brand’s Youtube channel is active. People may be interested enough to head over to your channel and investigate what your brand has been posting to Youtube.

Of course, engaging with the community is about more than just commenting on other brands’ videos. You’ll also want to reply to any comments or questions on your videos, provided they’re worth your time. Either ignore or delete comments from trolls, but don’t be too overzealous deleting comments, as it may be seen as censorship.

Using Your Social Media Presence on Other Platforms to Expand Your Youtube Presence

If your brand is already active on other social media platforms, you should use them to your advantage and inform people about your Youtube presence on them. Even if only 10% of your followers on other platforms come to subscribe to your Youtube channel, you’ll still have gotten a head start with your subscriber count.

Don’t be afraid to share your video uploads to other forms of social media. Using all the tools at your disposal is an essential way to ensure that your brand grows.


youtube logo

Whether you use the organic approach, paid ads, or both, Youtube is a site that has immense potential for marketers. While the platform takes some knowledge and effort on the part of the advertiser, there are many potential benefits to marketing on Youtube, including global reach, near-unlimited ad space, and more.

Making quality Youtube ads is a matter of combining good production value, the right targeting, and a bit of creativity in the right amounts. Hopefully, this guide has been able to provide you with all of the necessary info to get started marketing on Youtube right away.

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The Definitive Guide to Pay Per Call Marketing