YouTube is a social channel where people can go to consume a variety of video content. From music videos to daily vlogs from their favorite creators, it’s no surprise that YouTube users 18 to 34 years old consider it the second most-preferred platform for watching videos after Netflix. YouTube, as well as other digital media channels, have experienced rapid growth, as more people are staying at home and indoors during the pandemic. Now more than ever, brands can use the YouTube platform to boost ecommerce revenue streams, especially as the pandemic has also stifled volume for brick-and-mortar stores.
YouTube has a variety of ad formats for advertisers to reach customers along multiple points of the buyer funnel. We’ll dive into what YouTube advertising is, the difference between ad formats, how to analyze your ad data and audiences, and best practices for creative.
What is YouTube Advertising?
Reach your potential customers on the YouTube platform by delivering quality video ads to viewers across the network that seamlessly fit the content customers are viewing. Through YouTube advertising, brands and retailers can serve their ads to qualified viewers to drive demand or intent for a product or service. These are the key benefits of advertising on YouTube:
Custom Audiences: Not only does YouTube reach the same audiences available in Paid Search and Shopping, but you also have additional and customizable audiences to pinpoint the specific, qualified group of people for your brand or product.
Easy Setup: With Google’s easy smart bidding solutions, select the campaign type that meets your goals, and allow Google’s algorithm to maximize performance.
Create Intent: Great for lower-, mid- and upper-funnel strategies.
Measurement: Similar to using paid search in Google Ads, you can see the direct impact of YouTube on views, clicks to website, and conversions.
Is YouTube Advertising Right for My Brand?
If your brand is not sure whether you’re ready to participate in YouTube Advertising, consider the following questions when making your decision:
Does YouTube make the most sense for promoting my brand’s products or services?
Do my goals align with YouTube’s capabilities, such as the targeting options, ad formats, etc.?
Did you answer yes to all of the above? Great! Then, YouTube ads may be the right fit for you. If you are unsure of the answers to these questions, let’s take a look at the variety of ad formats available on the platform to see if they work for your advertising strategy.
When Do Masthead Ads Show?: Displays on YouTube homepage
Qualities of Masthead Ads:
Only available on a reservation basis through a Google sales representative
Charged based on a fixed cost-per-day or cost-per-thousand-impressions
Good for advertisers who want:
Brand awareness or to reach a large audience in a short period
Not to participate in auctions and buy the ad space ahead of time
To display and promote their brand on a large and high traffic space on YouTube
Platform: Desktop, TV screens, and mobile devices
YouTube Masthead Ad Specs:
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Video Resolution: 1920 x 1080 or higher
How to Analyze Your YouTube Ad Data
When analyzing your YouTube ad data, ensure that you’re reviewing the right metrics to get an overall understanding of your campaign’s performance. As an advertiser, look at how long your audience engaged with a video, when they disengaged, and review what ad formats are more successful than others. Below are some essential metrics that should be taken into account as you’re examining YouTube performance.
Impression: Counted each time your ad is served
Viewable Impressions: The number of times an ad was viewable. An ad is counted as “viewable” when 50% of your ad shows on screen for 2 seconds or longer
Average Viewable CPM: The average amount you’ve been charged for 1,000 viewable impressions
View: Person watches full video time (up to 30 seconds) or interacts with ads, including clicks/taps on CTAs, cards, companion banners, thumbnails, or logos
View Rate: Views/Impressions, the rate at which impressions are converted into views
CPV: Cost/Views, the average amount paid per view
Watch Time: Measures the total amount of time people watched your video ads, shown in seconds. Only available for TrueView in-stream and bumper ads
Video played to X%: Measures what percentage of viewers watched to that point in the video. Options include Video played to 25%, 50%, 75% or 100%
Conversions: Counted after someone engages with your ad and completes a qualified conversion action. An interaction with the ad includes a click-through conversion or an engaged view conversion. Only reflects the conversion actions that are opted in to the “Include in Conversions” setting. Smart Bidding optimizes to this.
Click-Through Conversion: An ad viewer clicks the ad and then converts within 30 days.
Engaged View Conversion: An ad viewer watches 10+ seconds or the entire video ad and then converts within 3 days. Used in TrueView for Action campaigns.
View-Through Conversions: An impression is shown, but <10 seconds of the ad was watched or the ad was skipped before a view was counted. The user converts within 24 hours of seeing the ad. Not included in the Conversions column.
All Conversions: The total number of conversions that Google Ads measures for each conversion action (regardless of whether it is opted into “Include in Conversions”)
The Importance of Micro-Conversions &View Based Conversions
Micro-Conversions are actions that are completed before the actual conversion takes place. These can be used as indicators of success if the conversion cycle takes longer or is difficult to complete. Examples of micro-conversions include add-to-carts, number of pages viewed, email sign-ups, etc. If a YouTube campaign isn’t seeing the immediate conversion performance you were hoping for, it may be because it’s reaching users too high in the conversion funnel to see direct conversions or revenue. Consider adding one or more micro-conversions to your Google Ads account, so that you can see a more significant, upper-funnel effect from the channel.
As we look at YouTube performance, the value of an impression and a view become clear and their return is directly measurable. When tracking conversions, Google Ads already groups conversions that occur within 3 days of a view with the click-through conversions. Plus, advertisers can see when just an impression (that doesn’t qualify as a view) leads to a conversion within 24 hours. For example, a user could see your video ad on YouTube and then go directly to your website in a different tab and purchase a product without ever clicking an ad, and even without the impression counting a view. YouTube conversion tracking in Google Ads allows you to directly measure the impact of a view or impression.
Getting Strategic With Audiences for YouTube
Audiences to Meet Your Goals
Because YouTube ads create intent, it is critical to identify attentive, qualified audiences for your ads. Luckily, YouTube has a lot of great targeting options, including some you may be familiar with, such as Remarketing and CRM lists, Similar audiences, Affinity, Detailed demographics, and In-market. YouTube also offers targeting options that might be new to you, including Life events, Custom affinity, and Custom intent. Overall, YouTube allows you to effectively and efficiently reach as broad or narrow of an audience as is needed to hit your goals.
Analyzing Audience Performance
Once you have the audiences added to your YouTube campaigns that you want to reach, the next step is to see if they are performing as you anticipated. Analyzing audience performance is essential to understanding why your campaigns are or are not performing well. In Google Ads, look at the audience tab within your campaign to see how YouTube distributes impressions, clicks, and spend amongst your audience groups, and which audiences are driving the best results, whether you’re looking for views, clicks or conversions. When assessing audience performance, ask yourself the questions below.
Should I continue to target all audiences that I’m currently targeting?
Is there a better way to distribute spend between these audiences?
Are there additional audiences I should add?
If you’ve reviewed your audience’s performance and realize that one audience is receiving the most impressions or spending the majority of the budget, you may want to move this audience into a separate campaign with its own budget. This will allow you to more easily monitor the performance of this audience, while simultaneously giving some of your other audiences a chance.
If your campaign performs poorly and your strategy includes the use of Custom Intent or Custom Affinity audiences, you can take these steps to dive deeper into and resolve performance issues:
Compare the performance of your YouTube audience with your Search or PLA audiences using the Demographics tab. In this tab, you can look at the distribution of impressions, traffic, or spend by age, gender, or household income. If your search campaigns typically reach affluent young men, but your YouTube campaign is reaching a majority of older women, it might be time to re-evaluate whether your custom audience setup is reaching the right group. Of course, YouTube and these custom audiences are also a great way to expand to new areas, so you can see if you’re effectively reaching new groups of people, too.
Review your keywords, phrases, and URLs for each custom audience and ensure that they do not have double meanings. If they do, Google could mistake the meaning behind the keyword and deliver to unqualified users.
Review your ad placements to see which videos and channels your ads are showing on. If there are several irrelevant videos or channels, your audience might not be targeting as you intended. Additionally, you might find placements that you want to exclude moving forward.
YouTube Ads Best Practices
01. Take Advantage of Every Second
Capture your audience’s attention at the beginning of your video ads, at least within the first 5 seconds. Think about how you can appeal to your audience through your video and be sure they will strongly associate the video with your brand. Do you want to evoke an emotion? Do you want the viewer to imagine how your product or service will make their life a little easier?
If you are looking for some inspiration, this YouTube video ad for BedJet by the Harmon Brothers hits the nail on the head for taking advantage of every second of the video. It’s an ad that mixes humor and storytelling by showing the pain points an odd couple faces with their bed’s temperature. They do this all while showing the capabilities of the product in a fun way.
One of the things that makes an ad like this one stand out from others is viewers may avoid clicking on the “Skip Ads” button to finish watching what happens next. Think about how your brand can use emotion and storytelling within your next YouTube ad to leave a lasting impression on viewers and increase your brand awareness.