How to Advertise on YouTube

Did you know YouTube can generate more monthly organic traffic than all 30 other social media platforms combined? It's no doubt a goldmine for advertisers, big and small. 


If you've been in the online advertising game for a while, you understand the value of organic traffic. It's like finding a treasure trove of individuals who are not just passing by but are actually interested in staying on the platform and watching more than a few videos. It's the perfect place to put out your ads.


In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss the strategies and best practices for advertising on YouTube and provide a step-by-step guide to setting up your first ad campaign, from creating a Google Ads account to configuring your ad targeting. 


Ad Formats You Can Use When Advertising on YouTube


First things first—know your options! One key reason advertisers are drawn to YouTube is its versatility in ad formats. Despite featuring a single content type—video—YouTube caters to a wide range of advertising needs. 


  • Skippable in-stream ads: These video ads appear before, during, or after a user-selected video. Unlike non-skippable ads, viewers can skip these ads after the first 5 seconds. Advertisers only pay when viewers watch at least 30 seconds of the ad (or the entire duration if it's shorter than 30 seconds) or interact with it, such as by clicking on a call-to-action overlay.


  • Non-skippable in-stream ads: Like skippable in-stream ads, these ads appear before, during, or after a video, but viewers cannot skip them. They typically range from 15 to 30 seconds in length. These ads help reach a broad audience and ensure that viewers see the brand message without the option to bypass it.


  • TrueView discovery ads: These video ads appear alongside other YouTube videos, in YouTube search results, or on the YouTube homepage. They typically consist of a thumbnail image from the advertised video, a short headline, and some ad text. When users click on the ad, they are directed to watch the full video on the advertiser's YouTube channel or website.


  • In-feed video ads: These appear within the YouTube homepage feed or other users' feeds as they browse YouTube content. These ads are integrated seamlessly into the feed and appear as regular video content, but they are identified as sponsored or promoted content.


  • Bumper ads: These video ads are designed to be brief and impactful. They are typically six seconds long and non-skippable.


  • Outstream ads: These ads are designed specifically for mobile and tablet devices. Unlike traditional video ads that appear within videos, outstream ads appear outside the YouTube video player, typically within mobile apps and websites. They can be seen in various formats, such as banners, interstitials, or in-feed placements.


  • Masthead ads: This is a premium ad format that allows advertisers to prominently showcase their brand at the top of the YouTube homepage for desktop users and the YouTube app homepage for mobile users. These ads typically autoplay without sound and are displayed as banners or takeovers, occupying a significant portion of the screen.


  • Non-video ads: These refer to various ad formats other than the standard video ads. 
  1. Display ads: These are graphical ads that appear beside the video player, above the video suggestions list, or in other prominent locations on the YouTube page.
  2. Overlay ads: These are semi-transparent ads that appear on the lower portion of the video content, overlaying the video player.
  3. Sponsored cards: These are small, rectangular ads that appear within the video player, providing relevant information, such as products or related videos.


How to Advertise on YouTube


Unlocking the power of YouTube advertising begins with understanding the intricacies of its setup process. From crafting compelling ad content to pinpointing the right audience, setting up ads on YouTube involves a strategic blend of creativity and data-driven decision-making. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you create your first ad campaign.


Step 1: Create a Google Ads account. 


  1. Log into your Google account.
  2. Go here
  3. To launch the sign-up page, click the "Start Now" button at the top right corner of your screen. 
  4. Choose between creating an account with a campaign and creating an account without a campaign. Both options will lead you to the account creation page. If you choose the former and aren't planning to create a campaign, you can pause it once you're finished setting up your account.
  5. Suppose you decide to create an account without a campaign. To do so, click "Skip campaign creation" at the bottom of the pop-up window. 
  6. Google will automatically populate the form, which requires your billing country, time zone, and currency based on the existing data from your Google account.
  7. Scroll down and answer Google's questions.
  8. Click "Submit."


Step 2: Create a YouTube ad campaign.


  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account. 
  2. Click the plus (+) sign under "Campaigns" and select "New campaign."
  3. Choose your object for your ads: generate sales, get leads, target the right audience, app promotion, awareness and consideration, and local store visits and promotions. You may also choose to create a campaign without a goal's guidance.
  4. Select a campaign type: performance max, search, display, shopping, video, demand gen, app, hotel, etc. Select "Video" since you're advertising on YouTube.
  5. Select an ad campaign subtype. In this step, Google wants you to know the ad formats they offer for each goal you may have for running ads. For example, if you want more views and engagement for your videos, your ads can be skippable in-stream, in-feed, and Short ads. If you desire more reach, your ads can be bumper, skippable in-stream, in-feed, and Short ads. Review the above description of each ad format or check this out before choosing a campaign subtype. How YouTube charges for each ad campaign type is discussed below. Then, click "Continue."


Tip: If you're just starting out, "Video views" is the ideal option because it only charges for actual results. Once sales begin to pick up, you can experiment with other ad campaign subtypes. "Efficient reach" and "Drive conversions" are the next cheaper options.


  1. Add a campaign name. 
  1. Select a bid strategy. Well, you can't really change the default bid strategy that will show up here because it depends on your chosen ad campaign subtype. You can only change it by selecting a different ad campaign subtype. Also, note that some views or clicks may cost more or less than your target due to other factors at play, such as your niche, ad run schedule, and market size.
  2. Set a budget and date. You can set a daily budget or pay one time for the entire campaign duration. You can also choose not to have an end date, especially if you have no idea how long it will take before your ad budget is consumed.
  3. Select a network or where you want your ads to show. Since you're running YouTube Ads, select YouTube. However, this will already be checked as you've chosen "Video" as your ad campaign type. You can add more networks, particularly Video Partners, on the Google Display Network, but read up on this first to determine how it can affect your reach and budget.
  4. Select a target location. Google allows you to target your country, all countries and territories where YouTube is accessible, or an area outside your country.
  5. Select a language. This should match the language you use in your ads and your target audience.
  6. If applicable, add a relevant video. This will appear below your video ad and can reinforce and extend its message.
  7. A new feature called "Multi-format ads" allows you to use several video ads for a single campaign. This helps reduce ad fatigue, especially if you're using a "target frequency" ad campaign type. By checking this option, you allow Google to find the right mix of ad formats for your campaign.
  8. You can further configure your ad campaign settings by choosing the types of devices on which your ads can appear and limiting the number of times your ads can appear to the same user.
  9. Create an ad group. Start by naming your ad group.
  10. Select your target demographics. Check the gender, age, parental status, and household income of your target audience.
  11. Consider adding an audience segment. This allows you to target an audience based on their interests, lifestyles, and interactions with your brand. You can narrow your scope further by selecting specific employment, marital status, education, and homeownership status.


Important: Google targets audiences and keywords. You must configure both to optimize your ad targeting. Maximize demographics and audience segment targeting by checking as many relevant options as possible. You can even customize your segment for more precise targeting.  


  1. Next, configure your keyword targeting. Enter the relevant keywords you want to target in the box. Google will place your ads on YouTube videos or channels optimized for those keywords. If you don't know what keywords to use, Google can suggest a relevant keyword list next to the box.
  1. You can also choose a specific topic to narrow your targeting further.
  2. If there are specific YouTube videos you want to target, you can select them as well. In fact, Google will require you to select multiple videos for your ad placement. To select videos for your ad placement, just type the relevant keywords and choose from the results.
  3. It's time to upload your video ad. This video ad can be a published or unlisted video in your channel. If your selected video is unlisted, YouTube will only show it to targeted viewers. It will not be available for everyone, even to your subscribers.


Important: Your video ad must NOT be longer than 3 minutes. Short video ads tend to be more engaging.


  1. Select an ad placement. Your options here will depend on the ad format and campaign subtype you chose earlier. 
  1. Enter a landing page. Where do you want viewers who clicked the link anchored on your video ad to go? 
  2. Add a call to action. This depends on your video ad content and goal. Here are some of the CTAs you can use:
  • Shop now
  • Buy now
  • Book now
  • Download
  • Order now
  • Learn more
  • Start now
  • Watch now
  1. You also need to put a headline for your ad. Make it short and understandable. 
  1. When your video ad plays on a computer, it often comes with a companion banner. Google allows you to either auto-generate it using your channel banner or upload a different image. If the video isn't playing in theater mode, this banner will appear above the video suggestion list next to the video.
  2. Bid on a cost-per-view (CPV). This is the amount you're willing to spend for every view on your ad. A "view" could mean any of three things:
  • If the viewer watches at least 30 seconds of your ad
  • If your video ad is shorter than 30 seconds, the viewer must watch it completely 
  • If the viewer clicks on your ad
  1. Review your ad campaign settings and click "Create campaign." 


Tip: YouTube's interface keeps changing, so always check for updates to ensure the best user experience when running ads on the platform.


The process seems lengthy and complicated, but it's only because Google offers many targeting options and ad format combinations, which helps you reach your target audience more effectively. 


How will YouTube charge you for your chosen ad campaign subtype?


The cost of your ads depends on your chosen ad campaign subtype. Knowing the payment structure lets you determine which ad campaign subtype suits your strategy and budget. 


  • Video views: You will only pay when someone views the first 30 seconds of your video. YouTube won't charge you for skipped ads.
  • Efficient reach: YouTube will charge you for every 1,000 impressions or every 1,000 views of your ad.
  • Target frequency: You'll also pay for every 1,000 impressions, but unlike in "efficient reach," YouTube will target your audience at a predetermined frequency per day, week, or month. This option is perfect if you want to hammer down your brand message to people likely to purchase your product.
  • Non-skippable reach: The ads you can use here will cost you, on average, $6 to $10 per 1,000 impressions. 
  • Drive conversions: For this ad campaign subtype, you need to set a target cost per action (CPA), which you'll multiply by the conversions your ads generate monthly. 
  • Ad sequence: Because this ad campaign subtype consists of various ad formats that are billed differently, several calculations may be required to determine the overall cost.
  • Audio: Similar to most ad formats, audio ads are bid on a CPM basis.


Questions to Ask Yourself Before Running YouTube Ads


Be inquisitive when learning the ropes of YouTube Ads. The more data you gather and verify, the more precise your targeting will be. It's also the only way to ensure your ad campaign aligns with your goals and budget. Here are some key questions to ask yourself:


What are my campaign objectives?

Determine whether you aim to increase brand awareness, drive website traffic, generate leads, or boost sales. Clear objectives will guide your ad strategy and measurement.


Who is my target audience? 

Define your target demographic: age, gender, location, interests, and behaviors. Understanding your audience helps tailor your ad content and targeting for maximum relevance.


What is my budget? 

Set a realistic budget for your campaign, considering factors such as ad format, targeting options, and duration. Determine how much you're willing to spend overall, per day, or per view.


Which ad format(s) should I use? 

Choose the most suitable ad format(s) for your objectives and audience. Combine different ad formats for better visibility and retention. 


What message or story do I want to convey? 

Craft a compelling message or story that resonates with your audience and aligns with your brand identity. Consider your ads' emotional appeal, value proposition, and call-to-action (CTA).


What creative assets do I need? 

Prepare high-quality video content, images, and copy for your ads. Ensure your creative assets are visually appealing, engaging, and optimized for different devices and platforms.


Where do I want my ads to appear? 

Choose the placement options for your ads, such as YouTube search results, watch pages, or specific channels and videos. When selecting placements, consider contextual relevance and audience behavior.


How will I measure success? 

Define key performance indicators (KPIs) to track the effectiveness of your campaign, such as views, click-through rates (CTR), conversions, and return on ad spend (ROAS). Use analytics tools to monitor and optimize your campaign performance.


What is my timeline for the campaign? 

Determine your campaign's start and end dates and any critical milestones or events that may impact your advertising strategy. An end date is crucial if the ads are for a specific event or season.


What are the potential challenges or risks? 

Anticipate potential obstacles or issues during your campaign, such as ad fatigue, competitive pressures, or changes in audience behavior. Develop contingency plans to address these challenges proactively.


Cost of YouTube Advertising


The cost of advertising on YouTube can vary widely depending on several factors, including the ad format chosen, targeting options, bidding strategy, industry competition, and campaign objectives. Generally, YouTube offers a range of pricing models:


  • Cost-per-View (CPV): With CPV bidding, advertisers pay when a viewer watches their video ad for a particular duration, typically at least 30 seconds or the entire duration if shorter. The cost per view can range from a few cents to several dollars, depending on factors such as ad relevance and competition.


  • Cost-per-Thousand-Impressions (CPM): CPM bidding charges advertisers based on the number of impressions their ads receive, regardless of whether viewers interact with the ad. CPM rates can vary based on factors like targeting criteria, ad placement, and audience demographics.


  • Cost-per-Click (CPC): Some YouTube ad formats, such as TrueView for Action ads, allow advertisers to pay based on the number of clicks their ads receive. CPC rates are determined by factors like ad relevance, targeting precision, and competition for ad placements.


  • Fixed Costs: In addition to bidding-based pricing models, YouTube offers fixed-cost ad options for premium placements like Masthead ads, where advertisers pay a flat fee for prominent visibility on the YouTube homepage.


On average, YouTube ads cost between $0.10 to $0.30 per view (at least 30 seconds into the video). You need to spend $1,000 to reach 50,000 viewers. Our advice is to start with as little as $5 per day. You can increase it incrementally but keep it under $20 until you find the ad campaigns that work. Then, as your business grows and your advertising budget increases, you can start scaling gradually.


Launch Your First YouTube Ad Campaign Today!


Tapping into YouTube's highly engaged market through paid ads is an excellent first step to growing your customer base. YouTube Advertising guarantees better reach and conversion than any advertising solution and is among the cheapest. It would be unwise to exclude it from your marketing strategy.


Set a realistic budget and implement a well-defined plan to ensure a high return on ad spend. Use high-quality and skip-preventing creative assets to convey your brand message effectively and get your audience to click that link. Optimize your ad campaigns by maximizing YouTube's precision targeting features.