YouTube: How to Get Started with YouTube Ads

Advertising on YouTube might seem a little intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it, it can be super easy and a pretty interesting thing to do. This article will act as your personal guide and take you through the whole process of setting up and launching YouTube ads, step-by-step. It’s a little long, but stick with me, the end result will be well worth it. Let’s go!

Step 1: Interconnecting Google Ads Account & YouTube Channel

Connecting your Google Ads account with your YouTube channel will let data from your video ad campaign to flow into Google’s Analytics Tools. Here is how you do this,

  • Open the Google Ads dashboard and click the Tools & Settings button located at the top right of the screen.
  • Click Linked Accounts under the Setup option in the pop-up menu that appears.
  • Scroll down on the Linked Accounts page and select YouTube.
  • Click the ‘+’ button and follow the prompts accordingly.

Step 2: Video Ad Campaign in Google Ads 

At this point, you’ll be ready to create your YouTube campaigns. Click on the ‘Campaigns’ tab on the left and then click on the blue ‘+’ button. Select ‘New Campaign’ from the menu that appears.

When you land on the next page, select ‘Campaign Goal’. You might confuse these campaign goals with conversions and think that if you don’t set up a goal here, the conversions might not get tracked. You need to be very clear on the fact that these goals do not affect conversions and are completely separate from Conversion Tracking.

If you’re new to YouTube ads, you can go for the ‘Create a Campaign Without a Goal’s Guidance’ option. This will give you full bidding options so that you can start with setting a manual Cost Per View (CPV). Once this gives you enough data, you can start looking at other goals. Starting campaigns for the very first time with goals set-up is not a good idea since Google won’t have a lot of data to work with. It is always better to start off campaigns without goals and set them up only when you’ve captured enough data.

The next step is to select a Video for the campaign type. Here’s a list of all the video ads you can put up on YouTube,

Skippable Video Ads: These ads are shown before, during, or after the main video. Users may skip these ads after 5 seconds.

Non-Skippable Video Ads: These ads may appear before, during, or after the main video. The time limit is from 15 to 20 seconds, depending upon the regional settings.

Bumper Ads: These ads appear in the middle of a video and are unskippable. They may be up to 6 seconds long.

Bidding Strategy and Ad Budgets

Once you’ve set the campaign up and entered a name, you need to work on the bidding strategy and your ad budgets. For the bidding strategy, you can start with Maximum CPV. Normally, the CPV may be between $0.05 and $0.12, while for the budget part, you can either choose Daily Budget or Campaign Total Budget.

Set a start and end date for the campaign and set the delivery method to Standard. If you set this to Accelerated, you might lose your whole budget in a day.

Networks, Languages, and Locations

In the Networks section, you need to select YouTube videos and uncheck ‘YouTube Search Results’ and ‘Video Partners on the Display Network’. If you want to utilize these networks, you can try setting up a different campaign so that the data you collect is more granular.

Now set your preferred language and set the location to either countrywide or locally. The Advanced Search will also let you set the location by radius.

Content Exclusion and Devices

You can define and choose where you want your ad to be shown through the Content Exclusions. For this, you can play around with the ‘Excluded Content’ section. You can easily opt-out of categories that are irrelevant for your brand or are generally sensitive. Additional Settings will allow you to use more exclusion options.

The Devices section will let you select particular devices you want your ad to be shown on. Again, separate campaigns for separate devices will let you see your data more granularly.

The Frequency Capping will help you avoid annoying your audience with your ads and cap the number of times it will be shown to the audience. Because let’s be real, we know ads are expensive to create, but our audience won’t want to see it every time they open Youtube.

Ad Schedule

This section will let you set up a certain time you want your ad to be shown on. There are no rules for this one and you can just use the trial and error method to see what works best for you.

Step 3: Ad Groups & Audience Targeting

The next step is to set up your ad groups. Try using descriptive names for your groups so that you can easily identify them later on and use their data. 

Target Audience & Demographics

The targeting options YouTube provides for its ads are quite comprehensive and allow you to make the selection as broad or narrow as you want. You can start by selecting the age, gender, parental status, and income level of your target audience. You can click on the ‘Audiences’ button to see these additional options.

Affinity & Custom-Affinity: Affinity can be a long-term interest someone has in a subject or category. Affinity audiences can be created by using interests, URLs, and places.

In-Market: People who’ve searched for a particular keyword or keyphrase in the last 14 days classify as in-market audiences.

Life Events: Getting married, purchasing a home, retiring, etc. classify as life events. This option targets audiences according to these events.

Custom Intent Audience: This option also allows you to add closely-knit keywords so that you can narrowly target the intended audience.

Remarketing: This is the strongest audience category you’ll have. These are the people who have previously visited your website or viewed any of your videos.

Keywords, Topics, and Placements

YouTube allows you to show your ads based on specific keywords related to a certain YouTube video, channel, or landing page that your audience has previously shown an interest in. Enter a keyword such as “video marketing” in the Keywords section and on the right, you’ll see a list of potential keywords you can target. You can add a keyword to the list on the left by clicking on it.

The Topics and Placements sections allow you to choose specific topics for targeting your ads.

Step 4: Bid Amount

This is the point where you decide the maximum CPV for your bid. This is the amount you’re willing to pay for a view on your ad. This amount only gets charged when a user views your ad for a minimum of 30 seconds or clicks on the ad to land on the linked webpage. No amount is charged if the user skips the ad after 8 seconds.

A bid of around $0.10 will work fine if you’re just starting out, otherwise, you can adjust the bid to get your ad to appear in high-traffic videos.

Step 5: Final Video Ad

You can upload different types of video ads on YouTube. The most common ones include,

  • Horizontal Videos (16:9)
  • Square Videos (1:1)
  • Vertical Videos (9:16)

The plus point of Square and Vertical videos is that they adjust to the natural intent of the user to use the smartphone vertically. This is particularly helpful considering the fact that around 75% of YouTube traffic is from smartphones and other handheld devices.

To use a video for your ad, you need to upload it to YouTube first. Once the upload completes, copy the URL of the uploaded video and paste it into the ‘Create Your Video Ad’ section in the ad setup. Creating at least 3 or 4 ads can be of great help since you can switch between them and do split testing.

After adding the URL, select a relevant video format. You can go for In-Stream ads, which are skippable after 5 seconds. 

For the next step, you need to add the final URL, which is essentially the link to your landing page, and the display URL, which appears in your ad. Make sure both URLs link to the same domain or your ad won’t be approved by YouTube.

It is really important that your ad a clear Call to Action to your ad since this is what will drive the users to click on your ad. Thus, you need to add clear and specific Calls to Action or headlines which drive conversions.

Another type of ad is the Companion Banner. The companion banner gives you more real estate on the desktop version of the website and appears at the top of the screen to the right of the video. The dimensions of the banner ad are 300x60px and it continues showing on the screen even after the video ad has been skipped or cancelled.

After setting up the ad, click on Save and Continue to complete the setup of your YouTube video ad campaign.


Yea, I know it’s a lot to take in, but with a little practice(and patience) it’s a good bang for your buck. YouTube is literally the largest video platform on the internet and hence YouTube ads are easily the strongest video marketing tools of the current era. While you keep playing around and experimenting with your ads, make sure you keep an eye on the metrics so that you can make informed decisions regarding your bid values and audience targeting.

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