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It’s Not Too Late to Be an Early Adopter With YouTube Ads

By Quiet Light
| Reading Time: 9 minutes

We’ve all had some version of this experience… you’re driving down the road thinking about how you need to replace that little round light bulb in the garage.

Half an hour later, you go online, and ads for that exact light bulb appear on every page.


We just accept it now. Google knows everything and possibly reads our thoughts while we’re driving.

Ray Bradbury’s likely chuckling in his grave, as Google’s algorithms get more and more powerful every day.

If you’re a business owner, however, it’s time to access some of that power by getting your ads on YouTube.

Possibly no other activity could better help you position your business to sell someday than getting a handle on customer acquisition and diversifying your ad channels now.

If you haven’t ventured into YouTube ads yet, now’s your chance.

If you want to tap into a global audience watching over 1 billion hours of YouTube videos every day, now’s a great time according to Brett Curry, online marketing expert and CEO of OMG Commerce.

He points out that it’s early days and ads are still affordable.

We’ve seen ads on YouTube for years, yes, but the platform is changing and few businesses are truly taking advantage of it.

According to Brett, the changes that have taken place over the last six months make it easier than ever to leverage the combined power of Google Search, Google Shopping, and YouTube for targeting and converting customers.

Based on his advice, I’ve put together this quick guide to getting started with YouTube advertising (you can also check out Brett’s Course on Smart Marketer for more in-depth coverage of the subject).

Why You Need to Start Advertising on YouTube

Without question, if your product-based company doesn’t advertise on YouTube yet, it’ll be worth your time to get started.

For two reasons:

  1. The traffic is there. We know YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, but more specifically it’s a product search engine with 1 billion users a month and an average mobile session duration of around 40 minutes.
  2. Advanced capabilities with Google Ads and Google Search have improved your ability to target the right people and track your results, yet YouTube advertising is still affordable. Views cost an average of $0.06 per click there versus $1-$2 per click on Google search.

Brett believes that YouTube has just now become viable as an ad platform, and he’s already seeing results for companies such as BOOM!.

Meanwhile, the stats on traffic and the rising trends on YouTube are incredible.

According to Google, instances of “How To” searches on YouTube are growing by 70% year-on-year.

For the 18-49 age group, time spent on YouTube went up 74% in a single year (2015).

All this at a time when only around 9% of US small businesses are using it.

A powerful strategy right now that takes into account the way shoppers actually behave, is to target customers across Google’s platforms, integrating video advertising into your overall ad strategy.

What Type of Video Works Best and What Types of Ads You Should Run

Brett’s advice on the type of videos to run on the platform has evolved as the audience and the integrations have evolved.

While awareness campaigns made good sense a few years ago, now direct-response ads are best.

Brett recommends creating videos with a straightforward message, and following this general format:

  • Hook the viewer immediately so they don’t skip the ad.
  • Lead with the strongest benefit and dramatize it for the viewer (show don’t tell).
  • Incorporate social proof.
  • Remove risk and overcome objections.
  • End on a strong Call-to-Action.
The Quiet Light Podcast

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Advertising on YouTube comes with a different language and set of options from that of paid social or PPC. It helps to get familiar with the terminology.

**When I mention the “main video,” I’m referring to the video the viewer has chosen to watch. The one during which your ad will appear.

First, know these distinctions:

Skippable ads – allow the viewer to skip the ad after 5 seconds.

Non-skippable (Pre Roll) – 15-20 seconds long and must be watched before the main video is viewed. Can appear before, during, or after the main video.

In-Stream – these ads play before the main video can be watched and may include CTA’s and overlay text.

Discovery (Display) – these ads show up when a user performs a search and also appear as “related video” on the sidebars of video-watch pages.

Beyond those distinctions, there are three basic types of video-related ads you can run:

  • TrueView – Video ad. You only pay when viewers watch or interact with your ad. TrueView ads can be display or in-stream and skippable or non-skippable (see above). These video ads must be between 12 seconds and 6 minutes long.
  • Overlay – Banner ads that run along the bottom of the main video. They can be simple text or image-based.
  • Bumper – Video ad. A 6 second ad spot played before the main video.

Bidding, Targeting, and Advanced Targeting

Create an ad campaign in Google Ads by clicking on “+Campaign” and selecting your campaign goal. Under “Campaign Type” select “Video.”

At that point, depending on the type of campaign, you may be asked to set up “Conversion Tracking.” Here you choose what action constitutes a conversion and set a conversion window.

Then select how you want to install your tag. You can install the tag yourself, email the tag to your webmaster, or use Google Tag Manager.

For sales conversions, you can set up the tag to trigger when a page is loaded or when a button is clicked.

Next, name your campaign and set your budget.

Choose where you want your ad to appear, both the geographic location and the network (YouTube search results, YouTube videos, and/or the Display Network).

Then Choose your “Bidding Strategy.” Here you choose one of four options:

  • Maximum CPV – you set the amount you’re willing to pay for a view.
  • Maximum CPM – you set the amount you’re willing to pay for YouTube to show your ad one thousand times.
  • Viewable CPM – you set the amount you’re willing to pay for one thousand viewable impressions.
  • Target CPA – you set the amount you’re willing to pay for a predetermined action taken by the viewer, like a purchase or an email sign-up.

Once you’ve selected a strategy, you’ll name your creative (the video ad you’re uploading) and set your bid amount – the max amount you’re willing to pay for the action you chose.


This is where you define your audience and set up the demographics, and where Google Ads’ genius really shines.

Be sure to run different campaigns for different audiences, so you can compare results.

Here you’ll target your ad based on the audience you want to reach and the type of content on which you want your ad to show up.

You can get extremely advanced here. Under “People,” you’ll set up demographic parameters and then create an audience.

Let me be clear. We’re not just talking about income range and homeownership here (although, that too).

We’re talking all this:

  • Who they are (Marital status, parents, etc.)
  • What their interests and habits are (Green living enthusiast who frequently dines out and loves technology? Check.)
  • What they are actively researching or planning (Recently got a new cat and are about to remodel their home? Check.)
  • How they have interacted with your business (You can retarget by choosing an Adwords optimized list here like abandoned cart, etc.)
  • This is why Google seems to be reading our minds, see? And why the combined power of video and Google is something you want to tap into.

Cards and Calls-to-Action

A YouTube card is like a notification that appears during the video ad. Think of them as CTA pop-ups.

Effectively by using cards, you’re making your videos more interactive. When a user clicks on the card (usually a small icon), it expands.

Cards let the viewer take an action like:

  • Go directly to your website or a product page.
  • Subscribe to your newsletter.
  • View another one of your videos.

When you create a TrueView for Shopping campaign (remember when you chose the “Campaign Type” above?) you can take cards a step further.

Shopping cards allow viewers to go directly from the video to purchase the product by linking to your Merchant Center account.

Brett points out that it’s unwise to expect viewers to act, visit your website, or convert from a YouTube ad without providing a clear and direct Call-to-Action.

Besides adding cards, you should include the CTA as part of the video content and add a CTA overlay. With the overlay you can send viewers to any url – a blog post, video, product page, landing page, etc.

Why TrueView is a Golden Opportunity

As always with business and ecomm, a barrier to entry is a good thing.

The barrier to entry with TrueView YouTube ads exists because making videos seems more daunting then creating a text ad.

And that means YouTube advertising is less competitive real estate than other platforms.

It packs the powerful punch of Google Search, but it’s cheaper. And you may ultimately get more for your money.

The beauty of TrueView ads lies in the fact that you only pay if the viewer watches the ad.

Let me clarify: If the ad is under 30 seconds, the viewer has to watch it to the end for you to pay for the view.

If the ad is longer than 30 seconds, the viewer has to watch for at least 30 seconds for you to pay.

One reason to love this ad option? YouTube viewers are already there to learn and do, as Brett points out.

So rather than run a standard promotional ad, a TrueView ad is the perfect opportunity to do something different, be creative, and give the viewer what they’re already looking for.

Considering that you can target both the audience (what they’re actively looking for) and the type of content they’re viewing, you have a golden opportunity here to deliver a customer experience that shows what your brand is really made of.

And compel the viewer to act.

Check out Home Depot’s YouTube channel for a powerhouse model of executing on YouTube. They’re now closing in on 100 million views.

Why TrueView for Action is Even Better and How to Use It

TrueView for Action presents another layer for your YouTube advertising.

This feature allows you to add a headline and CTA button to an In-Stream ad (meaning they play before, during, or after another video).

What you need to know about TrueView for Action:

  • The ads are skippable after 5 seconds.
  • Headlines contain up to 15 characters.
  • The CTA appears alongside the headline and directs the viewer to a specific URL.

To use TrueView for Action, you create a campaign as outlined above.

When you get to “Bidding Strategy,” choose “Target CPA” from the options and set a bid amount.

After you select the video to use for your ad, you’ll have the option to enter the final URL – the landing page viewers will reach when they click the CTA button.

Then you’ll provide the headline and the 10-character Call-to-Action.

What does this option mean to you?

In a word, ROI.

You won’t pay for views in this case, but an action taken by the viewer.

It also means you’ll set up conversion tracking as described above, and you’ll need some patience while you wait for Google’s algorithm to learn and get very good at honing in on your target customers.

According to Brett, this takes time but pays off nicely.

Maybe it’s true that the more things change, the more they stay the same. It feels like the days of television direct-response ads are back, but with a twist.

Once again, we’re interrupting the customer’s viewing pleasure, but it’s not just any viewer.

Armed with the power of Google’s big-data, you now have the ability to actually add value to the viewers experience and give them a customized experience directing them to exactly what they’re looking for to begin with.

You’re a partner on the customer’s journey.

And YouTube can be a powerful partner on your journey to add value to your business by streamlining conversions and diversifying your ad channels.

Keep in mind that over 50% of users access YouTube on mobile and consider that your brand now has a chance to connect with customers in the most opportune moments of their everyday lives.

Jump in now and give it a go while the price is right.

And before you know it, that’ll be your customers with that uncanny feeling that you’ve just read their minds and popped up right when they needed you most.

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