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While millions of small and medium-sized businesses flock to Google Ads for its ease-of-use and varied targeting options, many avoid YouTube Ads in particular “because video is complicated/expensive.”

With a shift in how people use their devices, avoiding video is a recipe for disaster.

According to expert projections, video will account for 80% of all web traffic throughout 2019.

For any digital marketer that has been holding their horses on video, this statistic should be the last boot tip you need to get rolling.

But running a successful video campaign doesn’t have to be complicated.

In this post, we’ll go through everything you need to know about YouTube Ads.

But first, wait a minute. Are you in the beauty/cosmetic business? Then there’s a brand new feature just for you!

Google announced it with a blog post just a few minutes before publishing this guide!

 Today, we’re introducing AR Beauty Try-On, which lets viewers virtually try on makeup while following along with YouTube creators to get tips, product reviews, and more. Thanks to machine learning and AR technology, it offers realistic, virtual product samples that work on a full range of skin tones.

Currently in alpha test, AR Beauty Try-On is available through FameBit by YouTube, Google’s in-house branded content platform.

Google said that they have been asking several beauty brands to test AR Beauty Try-On since the beginning of the year, and found that 30 percent of viewers activated the AR experience in the YouTube iOS app, spending over 80 seconds on average trying on lipstick virtually.

M·A·C Cosmetics is the first brand to partner with Fame Bit to launch an AR Beauty Try-On campaign for their new lipsticks collection.

The new tool, together with a few more features that will help brands making their content more engaging, educational, and effective in driving purchase decisions (both on YouTube and Google Display ads), will be available to advertisers this summer.

And now back to the original table of contents of this YouTube Ads Guide!

  • Why You Should Use YouTube Ads
  • How to Create Your First YouTube Ads Campaign
  • Ad Formats
  • Video Ad Sequencing
  • The Formula For Creating a Successful Video Ad
  • How To Laser-Target The Right Audience

Why You Should Use YouTube Ads

The rise of digital video alone isn’t reason enough to choose any particular platform.

You should use YouTube in particular for these two reasons:

  1. Unmatched reach & ad inventory.
  2. Unmatched targeting options for video ads.

Let’s give you some details.

Unmatched Reach & Ad Inventory

YouTube probably has the most available ad space and potential reach in the entire digital video space. With over 2 billion monthly active users, the user base is almost as large as Facebook’s. The difference is that every single user is there to watch videos in prolonged sessions. (And that is their only motive.)

There is little messaging and socializing going on on YouTube compared to other social networks. And that is because it is focused more on one-way broadcasting than actual two-way communication.

In this way, and the fact that the medium is video, it may remind you of TV.

But as a marketing channel, the similarities end there.

There is no spray and pray, or “knowing that you’re wasting your advertising but not knowing where” when it comes to YouTube ads.

Unmatched Targeting Options

Within the realm of digital video, no ad product that comes close to the targeting options available on YouTube today.

  • You can target individual channels and creators.

(This isn’t an option in Facebook or Instagram.)

  • You can target people based on their search history.

(Again, available precisely nowhere else. If you have a fitness app, you can show your video ad to people who have recently searched for “best fitness app.” )

And you have all the other standard targeting options like age groups, location, gender, interest groups, etc.

How To Create A YouTube Ads Campaign

As a digital marketer or business owner that reads AdEspresso, you’re probably already on the Google Ads platform.

So you don’t need to sign up and hand over your credit card information to a new platform to create and run ads on YouTube.

(If you don’t have an account, you can sign up for one here.)

Before you can run any video ads, you need to link your Google Ads account with the Youtube channel you will upload the videos to.

Click the “Tools and Settings” button to expand the menu, and click the link that leads to the linked accounts page.

From here scroll down until you see YouTube and click details.

Then click “Add channel,” and search for and select your channel.

After selecting the channel, click the link to jump to YouTube to confirm the connection. (You must be logged in to the relevant YouTube account for it to work.)

Once you see this box, name the link what you want, and complete the link.

You’re now ready to create your first campaign.

All you have to do is create a new campaign inside the Google Ads dashboard.

Choose a goal/objective that is relevant to the platform and select video as your campaign type. For example, you can choose brand awareness and reach.

(Please note you want to be able to test and use every single YouTube ad format outside of a sequence, in a single campaign with a single budget, you need to choose “Create a campaign without a goal’s guidance” here. You won’t be able to create unskippable in-stream ads without setting up a specific campaign, however.)

Now you need to choose the sub-type of the campaign. This is an essential step as it affects the delivery of the ads.

For example, if you choose the ad sequence option, you can tell a story to users with multiple short ads, more on this later.

With the brand and awareness campaign goal, you are forced to choose a sub-type which will impact what video formats you can use. If you chose to create a campaign with no goal, continue with “Custom video campaign” as the sub-type, and you can create ads in every format.

From here, you might notice that the bidding methods are different from both typical Search and Display ads.

The standard bidding option is maximum CPV (cost-per-view) and sets a limit for how you are willing to spend for each view.

And then you can choose to filter the inventory based on the type of content the YouTubers create:

Once you have gone through these options, you need to create a new video ad.

If you choose the sequence campaign format, you will be asked to create a sequence instead.

But more on that later.

When you are creating the video ad, you will be asked to choose the ad format.

So let’s familiarize ourselves with your options.

YouTube Ads Formats

There are 4 main ad formats that Google provides on YouTube today.

Each format has different lengths and mechanics and appears at different times during the user’s video watching experience, so you have to consider the format when planning, producing and shooting your videos.

Skippable In-stream Ads (Also known as TrueView Ads)

The original video ad format that every YouTube watcher has grown to hate and marketers around the globe have grown to love.

They open up before a video and have an accompanying banner on the right-hand side.

They are no longer called TrueView ads in the Google Ads dashboard, as you can control the billing timing of the video in the ad group bidding section.

If you use the CPV bidding option, which is chosen by default, you will pay after a viewer has watched 30 seconds of your ad.

This is the perfect ad format for videos that tell an interesting visual story that aligns with the tastes of the target audience.

Since they can skip your ad any time they want, you have to create a video that grabs and holds their attention, as well as informs them about your product/service/offer.


  • Video length: The minimum recommended length is 12 seconds, and the maximum is 3 minutes.
  • Timing: Before, during, and after videos.
  • CTA: Optional 10-character long CTA and 15-character headline.
  • Banner: 300×60 PX companion banner displayed on the right-hand side.
  • Pay for: 30-second views or clicks (with CPV-bidding) or impressions (with CPM)

Unskippable In-stream Ads (Pre-Roll Ads)

The unskippable, up-to 15-second long in-stream ads used to be called pre-roll ads.

They have no companion banner, and there is no call-to-action other than the “Visit advertiser’s website” link.


  • Video length: Up to 15 seconds.
  • Timing: Before, during, and after videos.
  • CTA: Optional 10-character long CTA and 15-character headline.
  • Pay for: Impressions ( CPM)

Bumper Ads

Bumper ads are short unskippable ads under 6 seconds (this is the window that in-stream ads become skippable after anyway).

Bumper Ads are great if you want to create multiple touch points with each user and create a sense of anticipation and interaction with each step of the story.


  • Video length: Up to 6 seconds.
  • Timing: Before, during, and after videos.
  • CTA: Optional 10-character long CTA and 15-character headline.
  • Pay for: Impressions (CPM)

Video Discovery Ads (Previously In-display Ads)

Video discovery ads are basically ads inside the YouTube platform that advertise one of your videos or campaigns.

Users that decide to click through on the ad will then watch a particular video. (These ads are different from display ads that are shown on YouTube, in that they don’t directly lead to a website.)

The most interesting change to this ad format is that it can now be placed directly in the YouTube app feed (or home page), and not just next to related videos.

Good if you want to improve your reach while targeting a very specific audience.


  • Video length: minimum of 12 seconds.
  • Headline: 100 Characters
  • Description: 2x 35 Characters
  • Pay for: Clicks to initiate views (CPC)

Video Ad Sequencing

More touchpoints beat a single longer touchpoint. It knocks it straight out of the park with 107% higher ad recall, and 134% higher purchase intent, according to this exclusive research Google themselves announced during Google Marketing Live 2019.

Create the perfect YouTube campaign by relying on multiple videos and touchpoints to tell your story, not just one.

To show your videos in sequence to each user, you need to create a new video campaign that has the correct campaign sub-type.

Then once you’ve entered the specifics like budget, names, and inventory, you can move on to start setting up your actual sequence of videos.

You need to choose a YouTube video for each step of the ad.

A great example of a series of video ads that work well in a sequence is Whiskas’ “KIT: Kat Institute of Technology” series of video ads.

Each ad grabs the attention of the viewer and tells a part of the brand story.

The videos match the expectations of their target audience (cat owners watching cat videos online), and by including humor seamlessly in their video series they were able to win their audience over. (They achieved a 3.6% sales lift in the U.K. by running this campaign.)

The Formula To Create the Perfect YouTube Ad

Create the perfect youtube ad by starting with the audience in mind, then creating videos that are inspired by video content they already enjoy.

It’s a simple but difficult process, that is centered around answering three questions:

  • Who are the people we are targeting with this campaign?
  • What video content are they already enjoying(watching a lot of, sharing, etc) online?
  • What aspects of that can we use and integrate with our brand story? (Language, humor, memes, references, setting, etc.)

If you thought message match (serving the right ad to the right person at the right time) was a big deal for search ads, prepare to be surprised.

Targeting and matching the message and creative to that audience is the ONLY variable in the success or failure of your campaign.

It’s the difference between completely bombing a campaign, and getting a 537% increase in brand mentions and 3.2:1 ROI (profit, not revenue).

Instead of shooting blind, think about the context in which your ad will appear; on YouTube videos that people are choosing to watch in their free time.

Become intimately familiar with the content that your customers are already consuming on YouTube.

If you have the resources and the time, you can run surveys and focus groups to get your answers.

If you don’t have the time, you can get insights into what your paying customers are working by setting up a display remarketing campaign and targeting the audience of paying customers.

This ad doesn’t have to be perfect, because you are only mining data on where the ads get shown.

To see this, head over to placements for the remarketing campaign and select “Where ads showed.”

Set the network to YouTube, and you can see which channels are the most popular among your customers.

This can be an easy source of insight not just for ideas for new placements, potential influencers and partnerships, but can help you find the creative angle you need to create an effective video ad.

How To Laser-Target The Right Audience

Google gives you plenty of options when it comes to targeting on all their ad products. And that is no different from YouTube ads.

Target by channels.

To choose which channel’s videos your ads should appear on, you can search for and add channels in the “Placements” section when you create a new ad group or campaign.

You can use the insights you got from running a remarketing campaign here as well. (Choose channels with high volume, as well as good performance across other metrics like CTR and CVR.)

Target specific videos.

In the same section, you can target specific videos. You can even hand-pick how-to/tutorial videos that use yours or competitor products to show your ads in.

Target topics / categories.

You can also target videos more broadly, by using topics and categories.

Target based on search history.

A more interesting way of targeting viewers that is unique to YouTube video ads is showing your ad only to people who have searched for terms relevant to your business.

If you want to market a tailoring business, you can target people who are actively searching for suits and other business attire.

You can even set up a custom audience targeting only people who search for exact product names, or other keywords.

The right targeting options depend on the range of locations you are targeting and the size of the audience.

If you are targeting a small town, and your entire audience is only a few thousand people, you need to use broader targeting like topics, in-market audiences or very large channels.

If your location is larger and your potential audience is in the tens of millions, you should use custom audiences or specific placements to cut away the low-quality views.


YouTube and video ads, in general, are only complicated and expensive if you try to shoot in the dark.

Instead, the safest path forward is to know exactly who your audience for the campaign is, and let their preferences guide your creative process.

Once you’ve done that, you can deliver the finished videos (or sequence) to exactly the right people, at the right time, watching the right video by mastering the extensive targeting options.


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