Video Advertising on YouTube: Best Practices for 2019

Ah, the beauty of YouTube. You wouldn’t know it based on its humble 300K views, but badday.mpg is actually one of the internet’s first viral videos. When the video started circling back in 1997, badday was shared primarily via email by millions nearly a decade before there was even such a thing as YouTube. Now, thanks to everyone’s favorite video sharing platform and world’s second largest search engine, badday.mpg is available for all of us to enjoy, forever and ever as long as we all remember to click.

With 1.8 billion users logging in to search for cats, funny Vine compilations, and product tutorials every month, YouTube is not only the second largest search engine besides Google, but it’s rivaling Facebook as the largest social media platform ever – making advertising on YouTube more appealing than ever before.

With such a high competition for viewers, the organic reach from your owned audiences alone isn’t enough to attract new visitors to your video. Today, reaching the right demographic through video advertising and distribution on YouTube has never been easier – or more important.

Here’s a breakdown of how video advertising on YouTube works and why you can’t leave it out of your video marketing strategy.

How Does Video Advertising on YouTube Work?

YouTube is one of the oldest social networks in the game and has gone through many evolutions of paid advertising options. Today, there are a handful of great paid tools and resources you can use to hone in on a specific audience segment and reach them with your video content on YouTube.

Because YouTube is owned by Google, YouTube’s Ad Manager functions similarly and in tandem with Google Ads, previously known as Google Adwords. In order to set up your YouTube video advertisements, you’ll need to log into or create your own Google Ads Account. From there, you’ll sync your YouTube Channel with your Ads account. Using the Ads interface, you’re able to launch your ads, collect and monitor data across ad campaigns, utilize advanced targeting, and launch retargeting ads. Once you’re all set up, you can tap into the YouTube-specific advertising options available to you.

Here’s a brief overview of the main advertising options, and how each of them work.

TrueView Ads

TrueView ads, also known as in-stream ads, are YouTube’s premiere advertising product. Functioning like a traditional commercial, TrueView ads are skippable videos that appear before the main video a viewer selected – like traditional television commercials, only better because users can skip them if they aren’t interested. Contrary to what you might think as an advertiser, this is good for both you and your prospective customers; audience members can skip ads that aren’t relevant to them, and you only pay when they show interest, which is calculated when a viewer clicks through or spends over 30 seconds watching your ad.

True view ads are also known as in-stream video ads and is another opportunity for you to advertise with youtube video
Source: Think with Google

Even though you have as long as sixty seconds to tell a longer, more full story with a YouTube TrueView ad, you still want to pack the first six seconds with attention-grabbing content. If you’re able to keep your viewer’s attention, it pays off.

According to Think with Google, viewers who watch TrueView ads for more than 30 seconds are 23 times more likely to visit or subscribe to the channel, watch more videos by the brand, or share the video.

TrueView ads allow you to customize your video with various CTAs and overlay text to inspire further action with clickable buttons and off-site links, and have different options depending on your marketing goal, like these below.

Types of TrueView Ads:

TrueView Reach Ads
Use TrueView Reach ads to target your viewers based on maximum impressions instead, billing by cost per thousand impressions instead of cost-per-view. Best for: driving awareness to your brand.

TrueView Discovery Ads
Use TrueView Discovery ads to show your ads on the YouTube search results page, similar to Google search ads, or to show up next to related videos instead of before them. Best for: engaging audiences who may consider buying.

Source: Think with Google

TrueView Action Ads
Use TrueView Action ads to add a button directly into your video that drives your prospective customers to click out to your website. Best for: nurturing leads to take purchase actions.

Bumper Ads

Bumper ads on YouTube are short video ads limited to six seconds long. These ads typically play before the actual video a viewer decides to watch on YouTube, like the previews at the beginning of a movie when you go to the theater – only super short – and are made available as an add-on to traditional campaigns.

Bumper ads are relatively simple, and are a good way to capture your audience’s attention, especially when that audience is viewing on mobile. On their own, Bumper ads are probably not long enough to make up a complete video advertising strategy, but work well when paired with a longer, more robust video campaign to coincide with a new product launch or a marketing push aimed at raising brand awareness.


Google Preferred and Masthead Ads

Google Preferred ads are non-skippable video ads designed to be the “premium” placement option for brands looking to reach high performance. By dividing up their most popular content channels into twelve categories, YouTube offers premium, non-skip content to advertisers who can afford the added exposure and longer content length with guaranteed  views. The videos tend to be about 15 to 20 seconds long, and seem to be optimized for mobile viewers.

Masthead ads, on the other hand, allow a brand to takeover the YouTube homepage with their video content for a full 24 hours. Definitely one of the pricier options, these ads give your video content untold exposure to the hundreds of millions of YouTube viewers who visit the site on the daily, even if they’re just passing through. YouTube actually gives brands the opportunity to preview what their video would look like on the homepage using this unique tool.

Outstream Ads

Outstream ads, show your video ads on partner sites. We’re not going to go into this much, since these ads are not playing directly on YouTube, and are currently only available for mobile or tablet viewing, but Outstream ads do help your video ads get more views and help you extend your reach beyond YouTube.

Why Use YouTube Instead of Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter Ads?

YouTube has been around since 2005, and with the exception of Facebook’s one-year head start, is the oldest social media platform to still be in the game (and crushing it). With over thirteen years of experience, coupled with the backing of parent company Google, there’s a lot that YouTube’s done right in order to stay in the business as long as they have.

First and foremost, it’s a video sharing platform by trade, and that’s what its users come for. So viewers are already primed and ready to watch video ads when they arrive on the site. Whether your intended viewers are just arriving on the homepage or searching for specific topics, YouTube’s video targeting allows your brand to hyper-focus on your intended audience, and you only pay if they actually see your ad.

Unlike other social networks, not everyone who visits YouTube to watch videos has to be logged in with an account. In this way, targeting options on YouTube become slightly less accurate on an individual level than on Facebook, which uses a whole slew of user-provided information to more accurately target by demographics like age, job titles, income, etc.

However, because YouTube’s video ads are set up through Google Ads, YouTube’s video ads run on the platform and across the web through the Google Display Network. That means you’ll have access to Google’s information when targeting potential customers, as well.

Here are just a few of the targeting options YouTube offers:

  • Audience Demographics: Target by gender, age, location, parental status, or household income.
  • Audience Interests: Target by topics of interest, like sports, fashion, gaming, etc.
  • Audience Affinity: Target by customized audiences with specific interests tailored to your brand.
  • Audience Life Events: Target by purchasing behavior and brand preference shifts due to life milestones like moving, graduating or getting married.
  • Audience In-Market: Target by searches for products or services similar to those you offer.
  • Audience Retargeting: Target your video content based on past interactions, website behavior, and more using customized lists created automatically via Google Ads.

The best part about video advertising on YouTube is that keywords are significantly less expensive than on Google. Views from advertising on YouTube cost an average of $0.05 per click, while the average Google keyword ballparks between $1-2. Add in the ability to directly target customers with your video ads based on their previous searches, and you have a winning advertising platform.

Best Practices for YouTube Video Advertising

Video Ad Specs

All of the ad types discussed above require the same video specifications:

  • Resolution: 640×360 or 480×360 (19:9 or 4:3 aspect ratio, respectively)
  • File Size: 1 GB max
  • Frame Rate: 30 FPS
  • Video Codec: H.264, MPEG-2, MPEG-4
  • Audio Codec: AAC, MP3

Beyond the video ad specs, YouTube has some pretty strict rules and regulations regarding the content it allows advertisers to promote on the platform, so be conscious of what is and isn’t appropriate for YouTube.

Are YouTube Video Ads for You?

YouTube video ads offer a wide range of functionality and formats, offer unique demographic and keyword targeting options backed up by Google, and provide billions of opportunities to get your marketing video in front of eyeballs every month.

If you’re looking to invest in video marketing and you’re currently overlooking YouTube, our only question is why?  Our team of creative producers would love to jump on a call today and fire some ideas back and forth about your YouTube video ads. Schedule your call today.

Grant Harvey

Grant Harvey