5 Tips For Building a Strong YouTube Ad Campaign


Building ad campaigns is a foundational piece of any digital marketing strategy. Whether you do that work in-house or outsource to an agency, you’ve probably dedicated a healthy portion of your budget to this particular channel.

But if you’re interested in taking control of this or maybe experimenting with a new platform, YouTube provides a perfect avenue for you to take your Google Ads knowledge and capitalize on the world’s second most popular search engine (with 30 million logins every single day).

However, building a YouTube ad campaign isn’t as easy as uploading videos and trying to promote them organically. If you’re building a legitimate ad campaign, you’re going to need to take full advantage of every tool at your disposal.

And these 5 tips will help you learn about this channel and get ready to start using it right away.

#1. Refine Your Target Audience

Every good ad campaign starts at the same point: Selecting a target audience.

Look over your customer personas, then choose where in the sales funnel you want to target them. Reconsider what you know about that audience — and specifically how they engage with YouTube. (Chances are you’ll end up needing to do some additional research; survey emails could be a good way to hear it straight from your customers.)

Since YouTube is a Google product, there’s an easy way to plug in the demographics of the target audience into your YouTube ad campaign. You can even specify what interests or topics your audience cares about, further ensuring that you can zoom in your focus to pinpoint accuracy.

Google breaks it down into minute detail here, but the important takeaway is that you’ll have the option to drill down to a very specific intersection of interests. But the smaller the target, the less opportunity since you’ll be facing off directly against your biggest competitors.

It’s a risk vs. reward situation, but it’s a helpful thing to keep in mind as you’re building your campaign.

#2. Think Through Every Detail

Ad campaigns can be pretty large expenses, especially for smaller businesses. That puts a lot of pressure on you to make sure that your plan produces some results, whether your goal is lead gen, brand awareness, or hard sales.

Budget becomes a big factor in any ad campaign, particularly when the platform you’re targeting is a hotbed for competition. So while the cost of YouTube ads are very reasonable, that price can climb quickly once brands start bidding for the same audience. (For what it’s worth, the average spend is $10 per day, which breaks down to between $0.10 and $0.30 per click.) 

Going into a cost-per-view battle is never a fun time. But when you think about your target CPV vs. your maximum CPV, you can get the perspective you need to ask the hard questions about your ad strategy. And those are the sort of conversations that help you set realistic goals for the overall campaign.

#3. Choose The Right Format

Choosing your ad format is a big deal. And as you start to build your YouTube ad campaign, you’ll be prompted to choose a format for your ads. YouTube supports five different options:

  1. Bumper ads are pre-video ads, but are only a couple of seconds long.
  2. Display ads are the bread and butter of website advertising. They are the ads you see on the right side of the page when you’re watching a YouTube video.
  3. Overlay ads are the banner ads that pop up along the bottom portion of YouTube videos.
  4. Skippable/Non-skippable ads are the main example of Youtube ads that everyone recognizes. They play either before or during videos and take up the whole frame.
  5. Sponsored cards are the main non-video ad format on YouTube. They’re basically non-video versions of overlay ads, so they’re cheap to produce but not nearly as engaging as video content.

#4. Set Some Brand Expectations

YouTube Ads give you the power to set restrictions on what videos play alongside your ad. While it may sound appealing to get your ads in front of as many people as possible, you may  want to think about the subconscious association that may result from that.

Part of the YouTube ad campaign builder (through Google Ads) let’s you select the video inventory size that you’re okay advertising with. You can also choose to completely exclude certain labels, i.e rejecting videos that are tagged as “for Mature Audiences only.”

There’s nothing inherently wrong with advertising before those videos. But if your brand is family-friendly or anti-violence, it may be worth talking through this. Fewer views may be an acceptable trade-off if it means protecting the brand identity your company has already built.

#5. Start With A Bang

Not a literal bang, of course. But since you may only have 1-2 seconds before the viewer closes your ad, you need to do everything you can to capture that person’s attention.

The digital marketing era has brought a lot of great tools to advertisers, but it’s also led to savvy consumers. People have an innate sixth sense for marketing content, and that means you’ll need to break through their internal barriers if you want your ad to resonate with them.

The easiest answer is making good content that inspires action, although that’s easier said than done. Your end-goal is to make content that caters to your target audience. But if viewers aren’t aware of your company or product, you’ll want to build your ad content with this target in mind.

Building Successful YouTube Ad Campaigns

Here’s a bonus tip: When it comes to analytics, Google Ads will be your best friend. And because it’s a Google product, it’s already integrated into building YouTube ads. That makes it extremely easy to set up your campaign, assuming you’ve already thought through what you want it to look like.

(If you’ve used Google Ads for Facebook or other platforms, you’re already familiar with how this works; if not, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.)

You’ll use Google Ads to actually build your campaign, selecting formats and frequency and the destination you want to direct traffic to. But you’ll also get invaluable data along the way, which should help you evolve and improve your YouTube ad strategy over time.

And at the end of the day, that’s what your YouTube ad campaign will come down to. It’s a constant cycle of trying things, reviewing the data, and making small adjustments. You can provide all of the parameters to Google Ads, but the only person who really understands your goals for the campaign is you. Which means it’s your job to stay on top of things all the time.

But with these tips, you’ve got the foundation to start planning. So go out there and build a strong YouTube ad campaign with the tools (and knowledge) already at your disposal.

Drew Gula is the copywriter at Soundstripe, a music licensing company that provides creators and businesses with royalty free classical music, among other genres.