7 Great Ways to Advertise on YouTube

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7 Great Ways to Advertise on YouTube

Videos have become one of the most important components of the online user experience. 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube per minute and this number is only going to increase due to the growing number of online devices with video capabilities and the successful user engagement videos create.

Being able to generate sales or leads through YouTube should be an essential item in every marketer’s toolbox for several reasons:

  • It is cheaper to get more visibility compared to other advertising tools
  • It helps increase brand recognition while still targeting relevant users
  • It integrates with many traffic sources since it allows the use of remarketing

Before getting into several ways to advertise on YouTube, we are going to have a quick look at how advertising on YouTube works in the first place.

Advertisers can choose among two ad formats to advertise on YouTube:

  1. Video Ads
  2. Banner Ads

Read on for the instructions for banners and the seven ways to advertise on YouTube:

Using Video Ads to Advertise on YouTube

Using video ads is done through the use of a Google AdWords Account. You first need to log in your Google AdWords account.

If you have never created a video campaign or are looking to create a new one, click on “+ Campaign” and “Video”:

advertise on youtube

The next step in the creation of a video campaign is to actually link your YouTube Channel to AdWords for videos. This will give you additional data on the performance of your campaigns.

In order to link YouTube to AdWords, click on the settings wheel in the top right corner and click on “Linked accounts.” You will then have a number of options including YouTube. When you click on “View details” below the YouTube paragraph, AdWords will guide you through the account linking process.

advertise on youtube

Any video campaign you create will show up in the campaign tab. Here is an example of a video remarketing campaign:

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If you are creating a video you want to use as an ad, here are some best practices.

Video Creation Best Practices

  1. Create a video that directly addresses your audience
  2. Say the most important thing in the first 5 seconds
  3. Keep the video short (around 30 seconds maximum) and easy to understand
  4. Use a professional voiceover to maximize results
  5. Create at least two variations of the video to test what generates better results
  6. Add call-to-action overlays

Using Banner Ads to Advertise on YouTube Videos

This is an extremely powerful tool to increase brand awareness. To get started, you need to create a display campaign:

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You will then be able to choose the campaign type based on your marketing objective:

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The next step is to select the proper targeting once your campaigns have been set up. Targeting is located in the display section of the campaign menu:

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You should then add youtube.com (or specific video and channels) as a targeted placement and you will be all set.

Banner Creation Best Practices:

  1. Include a call to action
  2. Use colors that contrast to stand out
  3. Don’t include too much text
  4. Test the use of people as opposed to text only
  5. Create banners that reflect your brand

7 Ways to Advertise on YouTube

Now that it’s clear how to get started with YouTube ads, it is time to discuss the target methods you can use in your campaigns:

1. Placements

Placement targeting allows advertisers to pick specific videos they would like to appear on. The main advantage of placements targeting are:

  • You can pick highly relevant videos
  • You spend money only where you have a higher chance to convert
  • You will be able to control bids on the placements that are likely to make the difference for you

This method also holds many disadvantages:

  • Volume might be small
  • CPCs are higher due to a lower amount of available impressions
  • The campaign will be difficult to scale up

2. Topics

Each person has different topics of interest and being able to target those topics allows you to target a relevant audience while generating volume.

The main advantages of topics targeting are:

  • Large impression availability
  • Targeted, but not too narrow
  • Good CPC compared to placements targeting

The main disadvantages are:

  • Lower conversion rate than placements targeting
  • It doesn’t guarantee websites talking about your topics will be relevant to your business
  • It might be too broad for items targeting specific niches

3. Contextual

Contextual targeting works with keywords and helps identify pages whose context fits the context of your keywords. Picking the right keywords becomes key to the success of this campaign type.

The advantages of a keyword driven display campaign are:

  • It allows you to target contexts relevant to your business
  • It is a good way to scale up campaigns at a low CPC

The main disadvantages are:

  • It might not convert very well at first
  • It needs a lot of negative placements to make sure the campaign doesn’t invest money on bad websites.

4. Remarketing

This is one of the most effective ways to target people on YouTube since it is based on targeting people who have already visited your website without converting.

Remarketing is extremely powerful and its main advantages are:

  • High conversion rates
  • Extremely relevant to the users
  • It can be customized based on users’ behaviors on the site

Remarketing doesn’t have many disadvantages:

  • You need to make sure not to target irrelevant users, such as people who bounced right away from your site
  • It might become too invasive if it has no caps on impressions

5. Interests

Interests can be found in the same place where you add a remarketing list:

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Interests include:

  • Affinity audiences: This option allows you to target large groups of people based on their long-term interests
  • In-market audiences: This option targets people who are actively shopping in the market for your products or services

The main advantages of interest targeting are:

  • Possibility to reach out to a large number of targeted users
  • Lower risk to target irrelevant users
  • It focuses on the user behavior and not only on page content

The main disadvantages are:

  • It might still target audiences that aren’t relevant enough

6. Demographics

This target option speaks for itself. It allows you to target users based on age and gender. Additionally, Google introduced an additional targeting layer which consists of targeting a parental status. Here is what the end result looks like:

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Demographic targeting has a few powerful advantages:

  • It helps exclude people who aren’t relevant to a business
  • It allows you to customize bids by age, gender, and parental status

The main disadvantages are:

  • It general and targets too many irrelevant users for businesses that don’t aim to the masses
  • If you get a lot of traffic from “unknown” users, you won’t be able to optimize based on performance and you will be running blind

7. Combination of Targeting Methods

This is certainly one of the most interesting targeting options since it allows you to take the best of each targeting method and reduces targeting disadvantages, since different methods compensate for the flaws of others.

The best practice is to combine two to three targeting options, but no more, to avoid limiting your audience too much.


With the ever-increasing demand for video, you can never know too many ways to get your ads in front of the right audience. However, not every business has videos ready to go and banners are a great way to get started with YouTube. Try these tips to increase sales and brand awareness.

Remember to combine different targeting options and continually test what works best.

What do you think? Please share your recommendations and thoughts in the comments below.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Rocco Baldassarre
All screenshots by Rocco Baldassarre. Taken September 2015.

Rocco Baldassarre
Rocco Baldassarre is a digital marketing consultant and entrepreneur. He is best known for being the founder of the award winning digital marketing agency Zebra... Read Full Bio
Rocco Baldassarre
Rocco Baldassarre
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  • Gemma Purnell

    Great article Rossi, I teach an Adwords course and am always looking for new insights to share with my students. Last year I attended a conference where it was suggested that YouTube would be the biggest search engine by the end of 2015 – that hasn’t become a reality but it is certainly a very large part of online marketing.

  • Vishwajeet Kumar

    Great article Rocco. You have just reveal the great ways to advertise on YouTube. This will somehow help me to create video campaign for some of my clients. Great job man:)

  • Asif Abir

    Nowadays, YouTube advertising is the most effective online advertising technique. Many people don’t know how to advertise on YouTube. I believe this article will help those people.

  • davesweney

    Thanks for this timely article Rocco. This is exactly what many people need to know and your insight is appreciated! Cheers! Dave : )