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Using Adwords to promote your video content in Youtube

Author's avatar By Neil Davidson 05 Sep, 2012
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An overview of the options available for TrueView YouTube advertising

AdWords for video allows you to advertise in a similar way to the traditional TV advert - your advert can be displayed on a video before, during or after it or in the Youtube and Google Display Network search listings. The big bonus is that you don’t have to pay unless someone watches your entire advert. Adwords has been innovating a lot over the last year or so with its TrueView ads now available in a range of formats on mobile (from August 2012):

YouTube have also recently produced the ‘Advertiser Playbook’. It is a detailed guide (122 pages) to using YouTube and AdWords and includes the latest (2012) best practice information and strategies for building big audiences on YouTube and increasing traffic to your website. It covers a lot more than the advertising element of video marketing with a good deal of advice and help on actually creating video content. It's particularly useful for agencies since it explains the  whole creative and production process as well as AdWords setup.

This post will take you through a few of the basics of running ads on YouTube using Google Adwords.

How does Adwords for YouTube work?

Adwords for video will position your video in places where people are already searching for content that is related to yours or that is similar. YouTube video advertising has many forms all which now site under the umbrella of TrueView. The two main options are:

1) Have your video shown in search results on Youtube.

2) Have your video shown in stream - i.e. before, during or after other videos.

However, just like Adwords, simply placing an ad on YouTube doesn’t guarantee that people will watch your video and it is your responsibility to ensure that you have created an ad and a video that is worth clicking “play” on.

Cost of advertising on YouTube

You have a lot of control over what you spend on AdWords for video. All ads are now pay per view, but differ slightly in how a view is determined. If you use TrueView in search or in display ads then you pay as soon as a user clicks on the play button on your video. Whereas if you are using TrueView in stream or in slate then you only pay if the user watches the whole video or the first 30 seconds of the video, whichever occurs first.

Setting Goals for Video Advertising

As with a standard Google Adwords campaign you can track back to goals on your website such as sales. This allows you to compare your YouTube advertising campaigns to your other marketing channels in order to get a clear understanding on performance.

You can set up the ads with destination URL’s that point to your website (unlike standard YouTube videos) and you can also add annotations with clickable links within your videos to web pages outside of YouTube (again, this is something not allowed on standard Youtube videos).

How to set up an AdWords campaign for your video

There are four different types of video ad formats. You can find out more details in the Trueview support showing ad formats or view the video intro:


1 TrueView In-search

This is when the viewer will see the ad above/next to YouTube search results when the viewer is searching for content related to your video. You then only pay when someone clicks to actually watch your video ad. You set the targeting on keywords that relate to your video or by topics that relate to your video.

2 TrueView In-display

Viewers either click the display ad to watch your video or on a YouTube watch or channel page. Again you can target using keywords or topics.

3 TrueView In-stream

This is when your advert is shown before, during or after another YouTube video of any length. These are the ones whereby a viewer can click to skip the ad after 5 seconds (you only pay if someone watches 30 seconds of the ad).

4 TrueView In-slate

Ads play before ‘Partner’ videos which are longer than 10 minutes. The viewer can choose one of three ads or they can select to watch them in ‘commercial breaks’.

See Google AdWords Help for more info.

Creating an advert that viewers will click on

There is no point getting your video ad to appear in the right place if you haven’t made the effort to make it enticing enough for people to click on. Here are a list of the things to consider when creating your ad, courtesy of the Playbook:

1 Headline and description

  • Think about your audience - ‘you’ etc
  • Use call-to-action words - ‘watch’, ‘discover’
  • Tell the audience what they will see - keep it clear, direct and compelling
  • If there are any special offers included in your video, highlight them
  • Link your ad to customised videos - ensure that they match the info in your ad text
  • Test different videos, formats and texts so that you get an idea of what works best for your audience

2 Choose the best possible thumbnail image from the 4 that are automatically generated by YouTube

3 Set your Display URL - probably most appropriate to use your business website address

4 Set your Destination URL - this is where the viewer will be taken if they click on your video - again, your business website is the obvious choice

5 Name your advert - this isn’t visible to viewers but you will want it to make sense to you, especially if you are creating lots of different ads

Basic or Advanced Bidding

Your ‘bid’ is the amount you are willing to spend per view on your ad. The more you bid, the more traffic you are likely to generate to your video. Lower bids are likely to improve ROI but you will achieve less clicks and therefore conversions. Bids can be controlled manually or they can be automatically controlled by YouTube. With the automatic option you just have to set a limit to your daily spend and the AdWords system does the rest of the work for you - aiming to bring you the most clicks for your money. If you take on a new marketing channel you should really commit the necessary time In order to properly analyse your performance and not just stick it on autopilot. I advise you to take the manual option.

See the Google guidance on bidding for more information.

Targeting your TrueView Ads

If you use the targeting settings in AdWords, you will have a lot of control over who sees your ad because you will only be targeting people who it is relevant to. There are a range of targeting options, which include location, location intent, languages, topics and audience demographics. The demographic targeting options are not as interesting as Facebook’s options but are pretty good nonetheless.

You can target in the same way as you can on the Google Display Network; by keywords or thematic topic as well as through cross referencing these with the demographic options.

You will also need to set a ‘maximum cost per view’ (CPV) for your targeting group. This is your opportunity to state how much you are willing to pay each time someone clicks on your ad. You can change this at any point.

If you are unsure about the demographics of the viewers you are targeting, YouTube can help. Using their ‘search for targeting suggestions’ feature you input keywords and it will give YouTube a better idea of who you are aiming to reach and what they are looking for. You can also identify negative targets and specify words that you don’t want your ad to be shown as associated with.

So, as you can see, TrueView through AdWords is a tool that if used correctly really can reap some serious rewards that would be difficult to achieve otherwise.

The market is not as saturated as Google Adwords so now is the time to get on YouTube and start promoting your business with video.

However, alone it isn’t enough and your content output needs to be of good enough quality to justify putting the time and money into AdWords. If you are familiar with using Google Adwords to advertise on the Google Display Network then you should have a head start in getting your video ads going on YouTube.

Author's avatar

By Neil Davidson

Neil Davidson is the Founder of MWP Digital Media, a leading Corporate Video Production Company. He also runs My Web Presenters who specialise in creating video spokesperson videos. They work with businesses of all sizes to create and market compelling and emotive videos that get specific and clear results. If you would like to have a conversation about how to create video for the web then please  contact Neil here.

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YouTube TrueView video ads

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