Actionable tips, community conversations, and marketing inspiration.

Getting Started with Advertising on YouTube

Lindsay Duggan Martinez

Principal Partner Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

Want entertainment? Looking to learn new skills? YouTube has it all — which explains why it’s the second largest search engine on the internet. 

No matter your industry, YouTube is the place to be if you’re an e-commerce merchant looking to reach a wide audience. Beyond organic branded video content, YouTube paid advertising is also a goldmine for driving brand awareness and conversions. 

These stats from YouTube speak for themselves. 

What Are the Different Types of YouTube Ads?

How does YouTube advertising work? Because it shares a platform with Google Ads, you likely have access to some of its best features.

YouTube offers several different types of ad formats. Some ads are skippable after five seconds, while others must be viewed in their entirety before videos can play. Ads can appear on all devices and platforms, including computers, mobile devices, TVs, and game consoles.

One thing to note about all YouTube ads: They do not appear for YouTube Premium subscribers who are logged into their paid accounts.

Skippable in-stream ads (formerly called TrueView)

What they are: These ads are delivered to users before (pre-roll) or during (mid-roll) a video — but users can skip them after the first five seconds. 

How much they cost: You only pay when users continue watching after the initial thirty seconds or interact with the ad. 

Their specs:

  • 12 seconds to three minutes 

  • Also includes a companion banner and a video overlay to display a call to action (CTA) 

  • Must first be uploaded as normal YouTube videos

Companion banners and video overlays are great opportunities to prominently display your CTA. 

Non-skippable in-stream ads

What they are: Because 76% of users skip ads, non-skippable in-stream ads are a great alternative to conveying your full message. They work like skippable in-stream ads, except — you guessed it — users have to watch the whole ad before continuing to their video. 

How much they cost: Bids for this ad type are set according to your target CPM. 

Their specs:

In-feed video ads

What they are: In-feed video ads work similarly to Google search ads — they’re promoted ad videos that show up next to organic search results. 

How much they cost: They’re charged by cost per view (CPV) — you can expect to pay an average of $0.3 per click

Their specs:

  • Includes a headline, two lines of description text, plus a video thumbnail 

  • When clicked on, they take users to a particular video or to your YouTube channel 

  • 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratio recommended

Non-video display ads

What they are: Not a fan of video ads? Google offers display ads delivered on YouTube pages. (Think of the ads placed along the right or left sidebar.) 

How much they cost: Non-video ads are priced similarly to other ad types within the Google Display Network. 

Their specs:

  • Includes an image, text copy, and a CTA 

These ads are a great fit for brands that don’t have budget for video but still want to reach audiences on YouTube.

What Types of Audience Targeting Does YouTube Offer?

Google owns YouTube, so it should come as no surprise that the video platform’s audience targeting tools are among the most robust. You can target your ads based on:

  • Demographics: age, gender, household income, and life stage (e.g., college student vs. new parent) 

  • Interests: Based on users’ viewing behavior and search history 

  • Behaviors: Target users who have visited your site, used your app, or watched your other videos 

How Do You Create a YouTube Ad Campaign?

If you’ve launched campaigns for your Shopify store on other social media platforms, the YouTube ad creation process will be relatively simple:

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account

  2. Click on “New Campaign.” 

  3. Choose your campaign goal — sales, leads, website traffic, product and brand consideration, or brand awareness and reach. 

  4. When prompted to select your campaign type, click “Video,” then choose your campaign subtype based on the YouTube ad formats we covered. 

  5. Follow the instructions to name your campaign and select your bid strategy, budget, ad locations, audience language, location, content exclusions, and audience targeting. 

  6. Launch your campaign! 

YouTube ads are great for reaching shoppers at different parts of the funnel. 

No matter which type of YouTube ads you choose, pay close attention to your budget and bids. How much YouTube advertising costs is largely determined by the competitiveness of your chosen keywords, audience targeting, ad placements, and more. If you’re looking to maximize your return on ad spend (ROAS), consider using a ROAS calculator to help.

For more tips on acing your YouTube ads, here are some ad creation guidelines provided by the platform. 

What Are Some Best Practices for YouTube Ads?

Ensure your YouTube ads are a raging success — or at least successfully catch a user’s eye by: 

  1. Getting straight to the point. You want to hook users in as soon as possible to encourage them to keep watching, so make your first few seconds count. 

  2. Not just slapping a logo on it. Treat your YouTube ad like a commercial — you want to introduce your brand in a meaningful way. 

  3. Staying away from being too salesy. This is your opportunity for emotional storytelling. Use your YouTube ads to entice users first — the selling can come later. 

  4. Taking more risks. Nobody remembers (or even pays attention to) boring ads. 

  5. Making your CTA clear. Users need to know what you want them to do next. 

Making the Most of YouTube and Shopify

If you're a Shopify merchant, there are a ton of Shopify apps that’ll take your YouTube efforts to the next level — Shogun, for example, will let you embed your YouTube video into your Shopify website, while Zapier offers a YouTube integration for Shopify merchants.

YouTube isn’t just a great place to advertise your products. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to create organic content to drive ecommerce traffic. Afterall, it’s the second largest search engine on the internet. You should put as much thought (if not more) into your YouTube channel as you do the ads themselves.

To get started, make sure your “About” section is clear and descriptive. Don’t neglect essential details like channel art, video thumbnails, header images, and even an attention-grabbing profile picture. 

For the videos themselves, consider creating content like unboxing videos, how-to videos, and challenges that feature your products.

For more winning strategies that’ll help you drive more YouTube users to your Shopify store, check out this YouTube Marketing Strategies guide.

Click, Like, Subscribe

If you’re a fan of video production or simply want to see more traffic and conversions on your ecommerce store, it’s time to get started with YouTube ads. 

But don’t just stop there: Level up your other marketing efforts, too. Check out the AdRoll ecommerce marketing platform to start launching ads and emails that attract, engage, convert, and retain shoppers.

YouTube Advertising FAQs

Advertising on YouTube has a lot of benefits for brands, but you might have questions. We’ve listed some of the most common ones below:

How do I create an advertising campaign on YouTube?

If you’re already an active Google Ads user, you already have the tools you need to create YouTube advertising campaigns.

Once you’re logged in, click Campaigns and then the blue “+” button to create one. Choose a campaign goal. For YouTube, this is probably “Brand awareness and reach.”

  1. Next, select “Video” as the campaign type and choose “In-stream” or “Video discovery” for your ad format. Set budgets and bid strategies. Budgets can be per-day or a total overall budget. Bids are the amount you’re willing to pay per view or click.

  2. Choose audience targeting. You can target by demographics, location, interests, or other factors.

  3. Create your YouTube ad. You can create a new video ad or use existing assets that you’ve uploaded to your YouTube channel.

  4. Choose ad placements, including the YouTube videos or channels where you want your ad to appear.

  5. Review all your settings and finalize the campaign. When you’re ready, click “Create campaign.”

What are the different types of ads available on YouTube?

YouTube offers a few different ad choices. These include:

  • TrueView ads: Skippable ads that appear before, during, or after a video. You only pay for these when viewers watch them for 30 seconds or the entire ad, whichever comes first.

  • Non-skippable in-stream ads: 15-20 second ads that play in the beginning or middle of videos and can’t be skipped by viewers.

  • Bumper ads: Non-skippable video ads that are six seconds or less and play before video content.

  • Display ads: Ads that appear next to video thumbnails on the YouTube homepage and search results page.

Can I target specific demographics with my YouTube ads?

YouTube (and Google) allows you to target specific demographics with YouTube ads. Demographic targeting attributes include things like age, range, gender, parental status, household income, and marital status.

How do I ensure my ads appear on relevant videos on YouTube?

You have several different tools available to ensure your ads appear on relevant videos. Most of these occur during targeting. For example, you can choose keywords related to your ad content that your audience may be searching for. Ads then show up on videos with those keywords. You could also choose topics of videos that your target audience is interested in. You can also seek out specific channels or videos that align with your target audience.

Speaking of audiences, don’t neglect to choose specific characteristics, like demographics, interests, or behaviors. You can target these qualities and find users most likely to engage with your ad content.

One final note: Not all YouTube ads are video ads, and video ads can live in places other than YouTube. Don’t forget about display ads, which can appear in the sidebar and next to video thumbnails on the homepage and search results page. 

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