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The Seer YouTube Video Marketing GuideChapter two

How to Run a YouTube Advertising Campaign

YouTube advertising allows you to promote your brand on YouTube, giving you the opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition and find an audience that’s seriously interested in what your business has to offer. Through the magic of a well-done YouTube video, the advertiser is able to connect with their audience in a unique way by showing viewers why they should care about your brand.

When running ads on YouTube, an advertiser only pays when someone watches at least 30 seconds or clicks on the video. This is advantageous because it conveys that this viewer is genuinely interested in your brand, making him or her more likely to convert by either visiting your website, subscribing to your YouTube channel or purchasing your product.

YouTube Ads are run through Google so businesses are able to track their ads’ progress and make optimizations according to performance along the way. Advertisers are able to measure success by viewing detailed analytics and optimizing from there.

In this section, we’ll cover:

example youtube ad

Why Advertise on YouTube?

As of 2018, YouTube has 1.3 billion users. That’s almost 1/3rd of the 4 billion Internet users around the world! The volume of people you can reach is astounding.

one of three internet users use youtube

In addition to being able to reach a massive volume of people, you’re able to reach the right audience, reaching potential customers by targeting topics, demographics, keywords, and even contextual placements in order to ensure your ad is showing up anywhere your target audience might see. Not to mention, you can navigate YouTube in 88 countries and 76 different languages.

“You know, you say a picture is worth a thousand words? Video is worth a million,” raves Njord Rota, owner of Majestic Heli Ski and strong believer in YouTube ads. The viewer is able to see not just your product, but what it represents: Happy customers, memories created, and solutions to problems realized. Brands are able to tell their business story with YouTube ads in a way that connects with the viewer and feels personal.

video visualizes more than just product

Another huge benefit to advertising on YouTube is the platform’s massive potential for interaction between audience and brand. YouTube allows for a mix of accessing, sharing, and engaging with videos that create emotional connections with a community.

YouTube is where 30 million daily visitors turn to be entertained, educated, and expressive. So, why advertise on YouTube? Reach your audience so you can connect with them in a more meaningful way.

How to Know Your Brand Needs YouTube Advertising

With all the technology and marketing tools available today, it’s hard to know not only which tool to use to reach your marketing goals, but also when it’s time for your brand to use that tool.

Below are a variety of scenarios businesses often encounter that signal it may be time to try advertising on YouTube.

Your business needs to:

  • Highlight product features
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Increase reach and effectiveness of offline media initiatives
  • Promote the brand with a story
  • Promote visual “How To” content
  • Increase YouTube subscribers
  • Reach potential customers and push them further to your conversion point

The most successful YouTube campaigns involve an organized approach: Setting clear-cut goals, monitoring performance, and pivoting in order to generate a meaningful ROI. YouTube gives advertisers a vast range of tools to measure performance in order to stay on track to meet goals. Use YouTube Analytics and Google Ads to track metrics relevant to your end goals.

We’re going to share some “recipes” for aligning goals and metrics for success, but to help you keep things straight, we’ve put together a glossary of terms to help you make sense of your metrics before putting them to work for your YouTube ad campaigns:

Definitions of YouTube Metrics:

  • Max Cost-Per-View (Max CPV): the most your brand is willing to pay for someone to view your video. This bid is similar to Max CPC (Cost Per Click).
  • Average Cost-Per-View (Avg. CPV): the average amount you will pay for someone to view your video ad. This metric is similar to the Avg. CPC and is calculated in the exact same way.
  • View: happens when someone either watches at least 30 seconds of your video ad or interacts with your video. To note, this is different than an impression.
  • View Rate: shows the number of views or engagements your video ad receives divided by the number of times your ad is shown (video and thumbnail impressions).
  • Engagements: show the number of clicks on interactive elements, such as on teasers or icons to expand any cards on your video, that don’t take people to a website or other external destination.
  • Engagement Rate: is the number of engagements that your ad receives divided by the number of times your ad is shown, expressed as a percentage.
  • Video Played to (25%, 50%, 75%, 100%): measures what percentage of viewers watched to that point in the video. For example, “video played to: 25%” shows how often a video is played to 25% of its length.
  • Earned YouTube Metrics: earned actions happen when a viewer watches a video ad and then takes a related action on YouTube. The following are different types of earned actions:
    • Earned Views: this type of earned action increments whether or not someone chooses to watch the same video again or any other video on your channel.
    • Earned Subscribes: happen when a viewer subscribes to your channel.
    • Earned Playlist Additions: happen when a viewer adds the video to a playlist.
    • Earned Likes: happen when a viewer likes the video.
    • Earned shares happen when a viewer shares the video.

Tying Your Business Goals to YouTube Metrics

Not quite sure where to start? Although all businesses are different, there are some common goals that YouTube ads can help brands reach. Here are a few common goals of YouTube ads and the corresponding metrics that can help you measure and achieve those goals:

A successful YouTube advertising approach requires aligning with the brand’s goals while also engaging the target audience. Strategize this initiative with your brand’s goals in mind: Are you trying to get people to hear about your brand for the first time? Are you hoping to increase website traffic? Maybe you’re aiming to increase YouTube subscribers. Whatever your end goal is, it is important to align it with your advertising methods in order to share the most relevant video ad with your target audience.
Depending on your brand’s goals, there are a variety of metrics that can be analyzed when reviewing performance of your video campaign. It’s important to monitor metrics that track campaign success beyond just view counts. Look to other metrics, such as engagement rate and click through rate.Assess if your campaign is achieving your goals by reviewing the performance metrics listed below.
Increase Brand Awareness

  • Want to generate buzz for your brand? One of the best ways to raise brand awareness is by hammering out a “quick, actionable message” establishing your brand in the user’s mind. These ads are typically unique and memorable, yet to the point.
  • Use Bumper Ads or TrueView In-Stream Ads.

Key Metrics: Impressions, Views, Earned Views, View Rate, Watch Time, Video Played to, Engagements, Engagement Rate

Secondary Metrics: CPV, Free Brand Lift Study from Google Ads, Earned Subscribers

Increase Transactions & Revenue

  • If your brand’s website is eCommerce enabled, it’s likely that you hope to drive traffic to the site in order to increase transactions and revenue.
  • With YouTube ads, you can drive users to specific product pages to purchase the  product featured in the ad.
  • Use Trueview In-Stream Ads or TrueView Discovery Ads for product and brand consideration. Within these YouTube ad formats, you can utilize TrueView for Shopping.

Key Metrics: Conversions, View-Through Conversions, Revenue, ROAS

Secondary Metrics: View-Through Conversions

Generate Leads

  • Is your goal to pinpoint and develop prospective customers? Attract those individuals interested in your business with YouTube ads, starting them out in the sales pipeline (top of the funnel marketing). Below are several examples of possible lead generation sub goals, and our recommendation on YouTube Ad Formats to use if your focus is lead generation.
  • Use YouTube as a nurturing tactic to educate and gain future customers
    • Registrations
    • Phone calls
    • Download a PDF
    • Request a Project Quote
    • Complete a form
  • Use TrueView Discovery or TrueView for Action

Key Metrics: Lead Completions, View-Through Lead Completions

Secondary Metrics: CVR, CPA

Increase YouTube Subscribers

  • Do you want to grow your YouTube presence? Reach new audiences who might not have otherwise known about your channel by using YouTube ads, and establish a loyal audience that will engage with your content consistently over time. Including a Call to Action like “Learn how to make my lasagna on my channel” will entice viewers to click through to your YouTube.
  • Use TrueView In-Stream, TrueView Discovery, or Bumper Ads, especially as remarketing to viewers of past videos.

Key Metrics: Earned Subscribers

Secondary metrics: Earned Views, Engagement Rate


Video Ad Destinations

Once you have determined the goals your brand wants to achieve with YouTube video advertising, you can decide where you want to drive people once they click on your video ad. You can direct users to one of three destinations:

video ad destinations

  • Brand’s Website: direct users to a website URL that’s relevant to the video ad.
    • Choose this destination if you want users to take action on your website.
  • Brand’s YouTube Channeldirect users to your YouTube Channel.
    • Choose this destination if you want to grow your audience and drive engagement on YouTube.
  • Specific Product Description Pages, with TrueView for Shopping
    • Choose this destination if you want to encourage users to make a purchase.

Whether you direct users to your brand’s website or your YouTube channel, the destination should be related to the goals for your YouTube video advertising strategy. For example, if your video is advertising a new product, you’ll want to direct users to a relevant URL on your website that contains details about this new product so the user can learn more or purchase the product. If you want to grow your brand’s audience on YouTube, send users to your YouTube channel.

Video Ad Types

Within Google Ads, advertisers can build video campaigns with several different YouTube ad formats to choose from. It’s important to choose a format that best aligns with your end goals. Keep reading to learn about each format and when to use each.

TrueView Video Ads

With TrueView Ads, the advertiser is only charged when viewers watch or interact with certain parts of your video. You can choose from two overarching types of TrueView Ads: In-Stream or Video Discovery.

TrueView In-stream Video Ads

  • Description: Run before, during, or after feature videos on YouTube or on partner sites and apps. They give viewers the option to skip the ad after 5 seconds.
  • When to use this YouTube ad format: Use TrueView In-Stream (with a static companion banner) when you want raise brand awareness and advertise to your target market where they are already engaging and watching videos.
  • When you’re charged: When a viewer watches 30 seconds of your video (or the duration if it’s shorter than 30 seconds) or engages in other video interactions, such as clicks on the call-to-action overlays (CTAs), cards, or companion banners.
  • Where the ads appear: TrueView In-Stream ads can appear on videos across YouTube and on video publisher sites, games, and apps on the Display Network. However, you can adjust settings to only show ads on www.youtube.com, as well as apply content exclusions for brand safety.

TrueView In-stream Video Ad image

TrueView In-Stream for Shopping Ads

  • Description: TrueView for Shopping ads are the same as TrueView In-Stream ads, but with one important difference: Instead of using a static image as a companion banner, an advertiser can utilize its Google Merchant Center product feed to show relevant PLA ads alongside the video ad.
  • When to use this YouTube ad format: Use TrueView for Shopping when you want to highlight products shown in the video via PLA, making it easier to users to buy that product. Additionally, this tactic works well with dynamic remarketing to remind users of items they have browsed before or may even have sitting in their cart!
  • When you’re charged: When a viewer watches 30 seconds of your video (or the duration if it’s shorter than 30 seconds) or engages in other video interactions, such as clicks on the call-to-action overlays (CTAs), cards, or PLA.
  • Where the ads appear: TrueView In-Stream ads can appear on videos across YouTube and on video publisher sites, games, and apps on the Display Network. However, you can adjust settings to only show ads on www.youtube.com, as well as apply content exclusions for brand safety.

TrueView In-Stream for Shopping Ads image

TrueView In-Stream for Action Ads

  • Description: TrueView for Action ads are also the same as TrueView In-Stream ads, but with one important difference:  Instead of using a static image as a companion banner, an advertiser can add a 10-character call-to-action button to the companion banner, making it more prominent for users to click.
  • When to use this YouTube ad format: Use TrueView for Action when you have a very specific call to action you want your potential customers to make, such as fill out a form, book a room, etc.
  • When you’re charged: When a viewer watches 30 seconds of your video (or the duration if it’s shorter than 30 seconds) or engages in other video interactions, such as clicks on the call-to-action overlays (CTAs), cards, or call-to-action button.
  • Where the ads appear: TrueView In-Stream ads can appear on videos across YouTube and on video publisher sites, games, and apps on the Display Network. TrueView for Action is particularly effective on mobile, where the call-to-action button is featured more prominently than a static companion banner. However, you can adjust settings to only show ads on www.youtube.com, as well as apply content exclusions for brand safety.

TrueView In-Stream for Action Ads image

TrueView In-Stream Bumper Ads

  • Description: A bumper ad is a short video ad that plays before, during, or after another video on YouTube or the Display Network. The video must be six seconds or less and viewers don’t have the option to skip your ad.
  • When to use this YouTube ad format: Bumper ads are best used to compliment a TrueView campaign or as a remarketing tactic to provide a brief reminder to existing and potential customers to put your brand at the top of mind.
  • When you’re charged: You pay based on impressions, which is the number of times your ad is shown
  • Where the ads appear: Before, during, or after feature videos on YouTube and the Display network.

TrueView In-Stream Bumper Ads image

TrueView Video Discovery Ads

  • Description: TrueView Discovery ads do not appear before a feature video, but rather are placed around YouTube based on keyword or demographic targeting, that a user can choose to view.
  • When to use this YouTube ad format: When your brand wants to capitalize on the naturally occurring discovery process that happens millions of times per day. Since the placement of TrueView Discovery ads can be dependent on the keywords of a user’s search query, it is easier to target your ads to more relevant users.
    • Google reports that YouTube discovery ads drive nearly five times more clicks on CTA’s than in-stream advertisements.
  • When you’re charged: You’ll be charged when a viewer clicks your ad and begins watching your video, no matter how much of the video they watch or what further actions are taken.
  • Where the ads appear: TrueView Discovery ads can appear on YouTube search results, next to related videos, and on the YouTube mobile homepage.

TrueView Video Discovery Ad image

  • Seer best practice is to create campaigns by ad type to control budgets and performance.
  • Video ads provide much different user experiences on mobile vs. desktop, so Seer also recommends segmenting campaigns by mobile device to optimize for these differences. 
  • Read more about video ad performance here.

How to Set Up YouTube Advertising

Before your video campaign goes live, make sure you’re set up for success and ready to properly measure conversions, performance, and gain audience insights, In Google Ads, advertisers are able to view a summary of the video campaign’s performance, which will help you to optimize according to what’s working and what’s not. This summary includes metrics such as View Rate, Clicks, CTR, and even view completion percentages.

Conversion Tracking

Before your brand runs a video ad, you want to ensure that you have Google Ads conversion tracking implemented correctly to accurately measure performance. Conversion tracking will also help you stay on top of whether you’re achieving your goals. You can use Google Ads conversion tracking to track the people who click on your video ad and ultimately perform the desired conversion action.

conversion tracking insight benefits graphic

Why is conversion tracking important? It allows you to:

  • Improve campaign performance because you are able to understand what strategies perform well.
  • Prove the ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) for YouTube Paid Advertising efforts.
  • Better understand which content resonates with your audience so you can further promote it and create new content later that is similar.
  • Understand how you should be allocating budget to specific videos, ad groups or campaigns.

How to Create a YouTube Ad Campaign

So you’ve decided that it’s time for your brand to leverage YouTube ads. You’ve set your goals and figured out which metrics to track success with. Now what? You need to learn how to create a YouTube ad campaign!

We thought about listing out a whole bunch of steps on creating a compelling YouTube ad but then decided, why not create a How To video ourselves and share our tutorial with you? Follow our step-by-step tutorial video and learn how to bring your story to life:

Note: Google Ads updates their UI and settings options often, so some settings or features may change when you go to create your own video campaign.

Also, keep in mind that this is just one approach to create a video campaign since YouTube and Google Ads offer countless possibilities to target and optimize your ads. So, play around with it and find the best combination for your brand!*

Reach Your Target Audience

YouTube provides the opportunity to reach your brand’s target audience through an array of audience targeting capabilities. In addition to the standard Google Ads targeting settings, like language, location, and device, you can also reach people by targeting specific demographics and interests.

how to target on youtube graphic

Audience Targeting Capabilities:

YouTube and the Display Network offer a variety of ways to reach particular audiences.

  • Demographic: Reach people by age, gender, parental status, and household income.
  • Keyword Contextual Targeting: Target keywords that will help match your ads to web content. This works just like contextual targeting on the Display Network.
  • Topics: Reach people based on certain topics of the feature videos they are watching
  • Affinity Audiences: Select from interest-based groups to reach potential customers at scale and make them aware of your brand.
  • Custom Affinity Audiences: Your brand can create audiences that are more tailored to your brand, compared with broad, TV-like audiences. For example, rather than reaching sports fans, a running shoe company might target avid marathon runners.
  • In-Market Audiences: Find customers who are researching products or services and actively considering buying something like what you offer.
  • Remarketing: Reach viewers based on their past interactions with your website, videos, or YouTube channel. If you’ve linked a YouTube account to a Google Ads account already, we’ll create custom ones for you automatically.
  • Life Event Targeting: Target users identified via their search & browsing behavior as going through a major life event such as graduating, moving, or getting married.
  • To choose the right audience, use Google Analytics and Google Ads audience data to see what interests and demographics are most highly associated with viewers of your website.
  • Layer multiple targeting methods together to get the most highly relevant audience.

CPVs & Budget


Unlike search or display campaigns, video campaigns rely on a Max CPV instead of a Max CPC. As mentioned before, a Max Cost-Per-View (Max CPV) is the most your brand is willing to pay for someone to view your video. According to Google, a view happens when someone either watches at least 30 seconds of your video ad (or the duration if it’s less than 30 seconds) or interacts (such as clicks on overlays, companion banners, etc.) with your video.

Often, your brand will pay less than the full Max CPV, due to theGoogle Ads Auction, and pay the Actual CPV. An Actual Cost-Per-View (Actual CPV) is the actual amount your brand actually pays for a view. Google Ads will only charge enough to get the ad to appear on the page. Whereas the Average CPV is the average amount your brand will pay for a view.

setting max cost per view graphic

At a minimum, your brand’s Max. CPV must be $0.01. You can determine your Max CPV based on the reach estimates that Google provides as you select targeting settings and a max. CPV when building a new campaign. You can also base this on what you know about your business and the value of a view.

For example, we saw an Avg. CPV of $0.05 and the highest Max CPV was $3.11 across all of the video campaigns for Seer’s clients from January 1st, 2018 – May 29th, 2018.

Popular Videos Bid Adjustment

When creating a campaign, you also have the option of setting a Popular videos bid adjustment. This optional bid ranges from +0% to +500%. It can increase your chances of being shown alongside popular content, but at a greater price. Top Content is leftover inventory from guaranteed buys on YouTube’s most popular 5% of channels among U.S. 18-34 year olds, including creators like Michelle Phan.

popular video bid adjustment

Campaign Budget

Your video campaign’s daily budget is the most your brand is willing to pay per day for your video campaign to run.  There will be many factors to consider when determining your budget, such as:

  • Campaign Goals: What goals are you trying to achieve with this video campaign?
  • Max CPV: How much are you willing to spend for someone to view your video ad?
  • Views: How many views do you want on your video?
  • Campaign Duration: How long is the campaign running?

Your total budget should be determined by your daily budget times the amount of days your campaign will be running.

For more tips on optimizing your video campaign and maximizing budget, check out this section of Google’s Video Advertising assessment study guide.

Wrapping Up

Alright! Now that you’ve finished learning about how to promote your video, it’s time to take a look at analyzing your video’s performance or pop back and compare your YouTube PPC know-how against some best practices for optimizing your video.