Easily the world’s most popular video sharing website, YouTube has over a billion users, who collectively watch hundreds of millions of hours of footage every day. Any registered user is able to upload footage, and even create a ‘channel’, enabling them to broadcast their videos and those curated from other users they follow.

Initially built as a way for users to share videos with friends and family, YouTube has evolved to become a major tool in the social media marketer’s toolkit – particularly since being acquired by Google. Some estimates suggest that YouTube ad revenue is worth $6 billion each year.

Many businesses now operate their own channels, showcasing product demonstration videos and tutorials to customers. Some also offer ‘Hangouts’ – live-streamed events or webinars that users can watch in real-time.

However, with so much content available, marketers need to fight for the attention of potential customers. For this reason, Google offers a selection of advertising options to help improve the reach of your video campaign:

#1 – In-stream ads
Similar to commercial breaks on traditional TV, in-stream ads are shown to users before the video that they actually chose to watch. You can think of it as being a little bit like the ‘this show was sponsored by…’ segment before your show actually starts.

Bear in mind that users have the option to click ‘skip this ad’ after the first few seconds and may not see the “pay off” at the end. You will not be charged the ‘true view rate’ if this happens, but some of your budget will be used up each time.

#2 – In-display ads
When they finish viewing a video, users are presented with a selection of similar suggestions – and it is among these that in-display ads are shown. The user then has a choice to click through and watch your ad – or not.

Like traditional PPC ads, YouTube in-display ads are charged at two rates – cost per click (CPC) for when a user does choose to watch your ad, and cost per view (CPV) for when the ad is shown to a user but they decide not to click through.

With either display method, your budget will be spent automatically as ads are shown to YouTube users. The cost of each CPC or CPV will vary according to a number of factors – much as keywords do in traditional search PPC campaigns. Make sure you use the YouTube campaign creation tools to understand what you are going to get for your money before launching the campaign.

Video ad targeting ensures your YouTube marketing strategy pays off
The default audience for any YouTube marketing campaign is ‘worldwide’, effectively showing your ad to anyone. Rather than ‘spray-n-pray’, your ads need to be shown to those most likely to benefit from it – and YouTube offers a selection of tools to focus your targeting:

Demographic groups allow you to specify users based on age, gender, and parental status. Google then uses their extensive store of personal information to find YouTube users with those characteristics.

Affinity audiences are assembled around people’s interests in relevant topics. Again, Google identifies suitable users automatically.

Custom affinity audiences are created around very specific interests and topics you specify. This granularity means you can target ‘long distance road cyclists’, rather than just ‘cyclists’ for instance. You can further narrow the field by supplying the addresses of websites that your ideal customer would visit.

In-market audiences are those people actively seeking a product or service like those your business offers. By showing your ads to these users, there is a great chance of getting them to click through to your site for more information.

Placements allow your ads to be shown on sites outside YouTube itself. Google will help you identify sites owned by members of the Display Network that attract visitors from your target audience, and display your ads there too.

Pro tip: By linking your YouTube account to your AdWords account, Google will also create custom lists for use in remarketing efforts that target people who have already watched your video content in the past.

Don’t forget to optimize your video
YouTube videos are generally subject to the same considerations as web pages when it comes to searching for them. Optimizing your video title and description to take advantage of keywords will help boost organic results too.

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