The Guide to Advertising on YouTube Using the AdWords Display Network
YouTube is a great medium, connecting advertisers with literally millions of consumers on a daily basis. As the “hot spot” for music videos, news stories, humor and entertainment – YouTube has evolved into one of the fundamental fibers holding our web experience together.
We’ve all found ourselves watching a video there in the past, or perhaps one embedded in another blog or website. If you’ve been on the site, you have experienced advertising on YouTube – whether it was the top right rectangle that caught your eye, or the image at the bottom of your video. Text ads, images and banner ads, audio and even video advertisements are all a possibility on YouTube, via the AdWords display network.
There are a few key differences from a common CPC(cost-per-click) AdWords campaign, and advertising on YouTube requires an understanding of the CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) model. Here are a few important points of difference to take with you:
- CPM campaigns are often viewed as more “risky” because advertisers pay for impressions regardless of clickthrough rates.
- The risk associated with CPM campaigns is put on the advertiser, who must improve their ads, landing pages and content to increase clickthrough and conversion rates.
- As the risk for the publisher is low while high for the advertiser, the average cost of running a CPM campaign is lower than a CPC campaign.
The quotations around “risky” in the first point are because risk is a matter of perspective in my opinion. Ultimately, you can control the risk, and with anything involving risk, there is often potentially great rewards. As an advertiser, understanding the keys to optimizing your CPM campaign on YouTube can help turn what others see as risk into profound reward for your bottom line.
Step 1: Plan your campaign
It’s time to get your hands dirty and start planning that YouTube advertising campaign. Before we boot up AdWords, let’s make our plan of attack and arm ourselves with the necessary information.
1. What is Your Target Audience?
Who are you targeting? Are you selling workout DVDs to men age 25-50? Write a profile of your target audience including points like:
- Where does your target live?
- How old is your target?
- What is the educational, cultural and financial standing of your target?
- What are the interests of your target?
2. How Does Your Target Search? What Keywords Would They Use?
Take your target audience profile and brainstorm common keywords they might use when searching for products or services related to yours. Start with a list of top-level keywords, like “DVDs” or “Bodybuilding.” After you have a list of your top-level keywords, try and expand each of them into several longer phrases like, “Muscle building DVDs,” or “Strength workout DVDs.”
Your keywords will be a critical part of your campaign, enabling AdWords to determine relevant YouTube content pages on which to show your advertisements. Continue to refine and improve your keyword lists as your campaign continues. The AdWords External Keyword Tool is a great resource for keyword research.
3. Which Ad Types Will You Use?
You can chose to advertise on YouTube with common text ads, image, audio and even video ads. The question is, which one – or ones – will you opt to use?
The ad type you chose is dependent on your resources and capabilities, and on the target audience your connecting with. As a general rule of thumb, YouTube visitors are accustomed to rich media and therefore images, video and other rich media advertisements tend to attract the most attention.
Visit the pages below to learn more about the ad types available and examples of placements.
- Ad Specifications and Sizes for Image, Video and Mobile Ads
- AdWords Advertisement Types Frequently Asked Questions
4. What is Your Campaign Budget and Schedule?
Last in the planning process, outline what your budget is to work with, and the time-line over which you would like run the campaign. How much would you like to spend?
Your schedule will determine both how long your campaign runs, and how intensive it is at certain times. Will you run your ads over the entire course of the time-line, how much would you like to put in during certain weeks? Determine your strategy and approximate your costs so you have a point of reference throughout the campaign.
Additionally, set some initial goals and expectations at this point – then see how they meet with reality. With experience, your expectations will soon be inline with real performance.
Step 2: Create Your Campaign in AdWords
Now that you’re armed with a plan of attack, its time to put that plan in motion. Login to AdWords and begin by creating a new campaign.
Locations and Languages
Based on your target audience profile you should have all the information you need to fill in this section.
Networks and Devices
Under networks and devices select the option “Let me chose.” After clicking on this radio button you’ll see additional options appear. In these new options, uncheck the box for “Search” and under display select the option, “Relevant pages only on the placements and audiences I manage.” This will enable you to create a campaign that is specific to your YouTube placements.
Bidding and Budget
Select “advanced options” at the top of the bidding and budget section. If you’ve opted not to use the search network, you will have the option of choosing to bid on impressions or “use maximum CPM bids.” Select the option to focus on impressions and set your daily budget below. Your daily budget is a maximum, and therefore should represent the most you expect to spend on any given day throughout your campaign. Your actual daily spend will depend on your advertisements.
In the position preferences and delivery method option, you can leave this at default, but it is important to be aware of the accelerated delivery method.
For simplicity sake, we will leave these be on our first campaign. Small businesses with Google Place pages can leverage this option on future campaigns.
Under advanced settings select the schedule and fill in your corresponding dates. This will automatically start and stop your ads.
Leave ad delivery settings for now. This option can be used in conjunction with split or multivariate testing methods in future campaigns.
The demographic bidding options gives you the ability to exclude or target specific age ranges, sexes and gives you the option to modify bids for certain segments. This is an advanced option that you can even use on your first campaign. However, in order to learn as much as possible about your audience, I recommend starting without demographic modifiers and setting them later as your campaign begins returning results.
Then save and continue on to the next step.
Create Your First Advertisement
I could write an entire article explaining how to write effective advertisements – and just might – but ultimately there is a wealth of articles already out on the topic. At this point you can write your text ad, or select the other ad options such as images, videos ect. which you will then complete after the keywords and placements.
Use your initial plan and ad types to complete this section and move on to the keywords and placements.
Selecting Your Keywords and Placements
With your initial plan and list of keywords, simply fill them into the keyword area. Now the fun part, placements. Here is where we can specify that YouTube is where our ads will run, and which channels they appear on.
If you want to run ads across the entire YouTube network (where your ad types are available) – then simple type “youtube.com” into the placements box and you’re done. For more advanced targeting of channels you can use the tool directly to the right. Search “youtube” for available channels and the ad types they can show.
Over time you will learn which channels have the best conversion rates for your campaign. A good rule of thumb is to start with a wide audience and then after you have all the data – narrow it down to what works best.
Step 3: Optimize Your YouTube Campaign
Now that your initial campaign is running, your spending money and getting feedback in the form of data – maybe even some sales. Alright it’s running, but how can you make it run smoother? How can you spend less money, or get better results for your investment?
Let’s talk about a few ways to optimize your YouTube advertising campaign through AdWords.
Create Additional Ad Variations and Run Split Tests
One of the easiest ways to improve any advertising campaign is to use split testing, or multi-variate testing. This means taking multiple variations of an advertisement (with the same goal) and testing them against each other.
With enough impressions and performance data, you’ll generally find which ad variation(s) perform the best. Keep it, and scrap the rest – then create new variations and do it again. You can use split (two variations) and multi-variate (more than two variations) testing with all ad types to find the best performing variations.
Improve Aspects Under Your Control
As stated earlier, when running a CPM campaign the risk and responsibility are on the advertiser. It is your job to make turn those impressions into results.
In order to optimize your campaign for better results, focus on improving the aspects you can control like:
Your advertisement: run variation tests and discover which has the best clickthrough rates, or sends the most qualified traffic.
You landing page: the first page that a visitor sees after clicking your advertisement has to interest them, and keep them moving forward to your point of sale. Ensure your landing page is accurately tied to your advertisement, providing a seamless experience. Additionally, you can run variation tests on landing pages just as you can with advertisements.
Your conversion process: even if your ad draws in visitors and your landing page keeps them – there is still no way to ensure that those visitors will become customers. Focus on improving your conversion process, making it a seamless transition from advertisement – into an opportunity they just can’t afford to pass up.
Focus on the Conversion Process
This point has to be stated again – because without conversions your investment has no return. Sure, it’s exciting to see your business advertised on one of the most heavily trafficked sites in history – but turning your investment into a positive return is the goal. Don’t lose sight of that.
The advertiser needs to create a seamless conversion funnel, from the point of the advertisement on YouTube to the final sale. Go through it yourself, have friends go through it and learn from your AdWords performance data. While you may not be your own target audience, it’s critical to have an understanding of the experience your customers will go through on the journey to becoming a customer or client.
Step 4: Analyze Your Results and Determine Campaign Effectiveness
When analyzing your results it’s important to understand all the benefits in play. One often overlooked benefit of CPM advertising, is the value of an impression. The ultimate goal might be to make a sale, but getting your brand name in front of thousands can be valuable as well.
Frequency is a common goal of successful marketing campaigns – and the simple brand awareness created with CPM campaigns can create direct value to your business in the future.
Give Yourself Feedback
That’s right – sit down with your results, go over them and give yourself feedback. What could you improve? What channel had good clickthrough rates? Which ad led to the best conversion rates?
Try and be objective when analyzing your own results and leave the emotional tie to your investment out. Think logically like an analyst and give yourself some great points and ideas for improvement.
Finally, if you haven’t already implemented conversion tracking on your AdWords campaigns then look into this immediately. Conversion tracking will give you more data to work with and ultimately let you determine the return on investment for your campaign. To learn more about conversion tracking and how to set it up, visit The AdWords Conversion Tracking Setup Guide.
There you go, that’s all there is too it. While it may seem like a lot to learn you’ll find that once you create your first campaign, your next ones will come together with ease. It’s a bit like learning to ride a bike if you want a simple comparison.
Don’t be afraid, get excited and get started with your own YouTube advertising campaign!