Claire Pullinger

YouTube Marketing Specialist


A Beginner's Guide to Advertising on YouTube - Essential Tips

Since its inception in 2005, YouTube has become the largest video sharing website in the world. It is used by over a billion people in the world and roughly 6 billion hours of video content are watched by its users every month. The sheer scale of YouTube is breath-taking to behold. Therefore, it is easy to see why businesses are investing ever increasing sums of money on YouTube advertising.

If done correctly, the return on investment makes the costs incurred seem miniscule in comparison. Unfortunately, it is simply impossible to discuss every single aspect of YouTube advertising for maximising your ROI in this rather short article. That being said, the following tips should come in handy if you have decided to advertise on YouTube without much experience.

Select the Right Ad-Type

There are primarily three types of youtube ad types on YouTube – in-stream ads, in-display ads and in-search ads.

In-stream ads refer to those ads that usually appear at the beginning of a video (or sometimes during the video). For videos that are 30 seconds or longer, viewers can skip the ad after the first five seconds. These are chargeable if the viewer chooses not to skip the ad. Non-skippable ads cannot be skipped by the viewer and are 15-20 seconds long. In-display ads are displayed on the right-hand side of the feature video directly above the recommended/suggested video list. In-Search ads, much like Google ads, appear below search queries just above the organic listings and under the YouTube search box.

All three have their own advantages and drawbacks. However, broadly speaking, in-stream ads are ideal as short-duration ads and are preferably under a minute. Meanwhile, in-display ads are a good choice for relatively longer ads and you could even include videos on your brand’s main YouTube channel. In-search ads are a great choice for keyword specific targeting. In terms of viewer engagement, in-stream ads are a far superior choice than other ad types. That being said, in-display/in-search ads are a lot less intrusive and perform almost as well as in-stream ads if done right. It would be a futile exercise to compare these ad types in terms of their cost per bid since each is distinct from the other in terms of how it works.

Use the Right Keywords

Much like the way SEO functions on Google, selecting right keywords can have a major impact on your conversion rates. This is especially important in case of in-search ads because people will not click on your ad if it does not relate to their search queries. It is highly recommended that you use Google AdWords for effective keyword targeting. Fortunately, AdWords for video is much cheaper than its text-based counterpart.

Avoid the more expensive keywords and stick to long-tail specific keywords. These have less competition, lower costs and more likely to generate targeted traffic. Make sure you use a bunch of related keywords even if they are not obviously similar to your brand. For instance, if your company is selling make-up accessories like eye-liner or lip-gloss, then key-phrases like “makeup tutorial”, “last minute makeup guide” or “how to apply eye-liner” could just as easily perform as well as more sought after keywords.

Know Your Audience

It would be criminal to understate the importance of identifying the relevant demographic for your brand. Ignoring this exercise is akin to throwing money into a wishing well and hoping that it is granted. Do your homework and indulge in research to pinpoint your specific target demographic. For instance if you are selling cosmetic products, it makes sense to target women between age groups 18 and 40 to acquire maximum return on investment. Target your audience based on certain parameters such as age, gender, location, local lingo and so on. 

In addition to these basic parameters, you can also target your audience based on their interests in related topics as displayed by their browsing history. YouTube maintains a list of 'affinity audience' based on their interest although you are free to create more specific custom affinity groups. 

 For those users who have already watched some of your ads, commented on your videos and subscribed to your YouTube channel, create video re-marketing lists to show them ads that they are likely to find relevant or useful. The more specific your settings are, the better your results would be. Although YouTube has a fair share of targeting options to get you started, your eventual goal would be to move on to AdWords for video so that you can target your demographic more effectively and with greater efficiency.  

Create Effective Ads

The best performing ads are those which do not seem like ads at all. This might seem counter-intuitive but people simply do not respond favourably to ads that bombard them with information about a particular product or even features and benefits of a particular service.

Create attention grabbing ads with compelling thumbnails that appeal to your audience’s emotions. This is part of the reason why funny and humorous ads work so well. Tell them why your product/service is unique and how it can truly add value to their lives. Alternatively, if you are simply looking to outsell your competitors, consider including special offers, schemes or discounts within the first few seconds of your ad.

All the same, even with meticulous planning, your efforts will not amount to much unless you create high quality ads. Many businesses hire professional agencies for designing their ads. Fortunately, for companies on a budget YouTube has its own ad-builder tool to help you record your ads and get you started.