How to Create a YouTube Advertising Strategy (with Examples)
Author’s Note: This post was updated on March 8, 2023, with new information, links, and data.
With iOS 14 having a large impact on Facebook’s audience targeting and tracking capabilities, many brands have been left wondering how to replace the impressions & traffic they used to rely on getting from Facebook. Luckily for brands and advertisers, other options exist, and YouTube Ads is coming into its ‘golden age,’ providing an excellent opportunity to advertise on the world’s second most visited website.
Not only does YouTube have more traffic than Facebook, YouTube’s average visit duration is far higher than Facebook’s, with users averaging 21 minutes and 56 seconds on the site compared to Facebook’s 10 minutes and 13 seconds. While we won’t suggest ditching Facebook Ads in this blog, we will show you why, with the right full-funnel approach in mind, advertising YouTube videos is an excellent option to help scale your paid traffic along with a couple of examples of how we’ve helped Tuff partners grow with YouTube Ads.
Setting Yourself Up For Success
Before beginning your advertising journey on YouTube, it’s important to first ensure that you have the proper tracking configured on your website. For YouTube advertising, this means that the conversions you are hoping to track inside Google Ads should be configured with the Google Ads tag. In other words, importing goals from Google Analytics will not suffice. This is because a standard Google Analytics conversion does not also track view-thru conversions, but rather last click interactions.
If, for example, you have been importing your ‘Transactions’ goal from Google Analytics into Google Ads to measure conversions, you will need to update your purchase conversion tracking with a new Google Ads purchase conversion tag.
I’ve spoken with many founders & marketers alike who have believed that their YouTube Ads were not successful during their previous attempts. Many times, when digging into the conversion tracking setup, I can see that they had been relying on imported Google Analytics goals and were missing view-thru conversions, leading to missing data and the inability to judge their campaign’s true impact. With YouTube advertising, it’s not uncommon to see low click-thru conversion volume, and this is where having access to view-thru conversions can help you measure your campaign’s true influence.
There is a comparison that can be made here to a much older medium of advertising – the billboard. It’s impossible to know exactly how many impressions a billboard received, or how many sales converted because they saw a billboard and decided to make a purchase. Instead, its purpose is to drive brand awareness or help keep a brand top-of-mind.
YouTube advertisements can be viewed as a type of digital billboard – one which gives you the opportunity to drive brand awareness or stay in front of your prospects via thousands of impressions per day by putting your brand in front of where your prospects are. One very big difference, however, is that YouTube has more effective measurement via conversion and view-thru conversion tracking to prove whether it’s actually working to influence your bottom-line or not, as well as a slew of granular targeting options that makes it an option to test for nearly any brand.
Introducing Your Brand With YouTube Ads
After your conversion tracking is set up correctly, it’s time to build out campaigns for success. Most importantly, think about your true campaign goal as you will use this to guide your campaign type and audience selection. This can also be thought of as stages in a funnel, and YouTube’s campaign and audience targeting options provide a way to get in front of targeted users with the right message no matter where they are in your funnel.
For top-of-funnel targeting, YouTube offers a variety of targeting options and campaign types that will help build awareness around your brand to targeted users at scale. When beginning a new campaign on YouTube, it’s best to test as many different targeting types as possible. Oftentimes when testing audience types for partners, we will find certain targeting types that work best for the particular offering or brand, and are able to push spend towards the campaigns that are driving the results.
This is what we did for our partner, Sabio. Sabio offers online coding bootcamps and has some awesome testimonial videos on YouTube. We knew that with this solid creative and the right targeting approach, we could introduce the Sabio brand at scale and even drive conversions from a top-of-funnel branding approach.
When launching our first batch of prospecting in-stream ads, we tested a variety of target audience types and placement targeting options including affinity, in-market, custom intent, topics, and YouTube channels. After a few thousand dollars in spend, we quickly identified that campaigns with our chosen topics had the best CPA costs and conversion rates. Even better, because topics are made up of a wide selection of YouTube channels, inventory is plentiful, and we can comfortably scale our campaigns’ budgets. After hitting a successful CPA of $55.63 in our first full month of campaign testing in 2021, we’ve been consistently running YouTube Ads to drive sign-ups for Sabio since.
While other targeting options did not perform as well for Sabio, that does not mean that they should be avoided altogether.
When we set out to lower the overall Cost Per Sign Up for Tuff partner Bootcamp.com’s Anatomy Bootcamp product, we tested a variety of campaign types including Search and YouTube, and found surprising results.
When testing various options of audience targeting on YouTube, we found excellent results with non-branded Custom Intent audiences at the top of the funnel. So much so that we paused non-branded Search campaigns because while our non-branded Search campaigns had an acceptable average CPS of $11.25, our non-branded Custom Intent audience targeting on YouTube outperformed Search with a CPS of $3.55.
Since we could safely assume that the users in the Custom Intent audience had recently searched Google for our targeted non-branded keywords, we are able to hit our target prospect, just at a different time and with different costs.
Staying Top of Mind With Retargeting
You know that injury lawyer billboard you drive passed every time you get on the interstate? Yes, you do. Billboards work so well because of repetition. Online, we can achieve this with retargeting, and YouTube Ads do a great job of helping to keep your brand top-of-mind with effective retargeting options.
Still, creating retargeting audiences should require more thought and intention than simply setting up an All Users list and hitting play. This is an area in which a strong YouTube advertising strategy dominates the old faithful billboard any day of the week. Setting up various retargeting audiences based on the level of engagement the user has already taken will help you create winning audience targets and campaigns, and gives you the ability to tailor your message to your audience even further.
For Tuff partner and device insurance provider, AKKO, we knew that getting users to purchase device insurance from a relatively new name would require a fair bit of nurturing, and retargeting with YouTube has provided us the ability to remarket to users as they journey through the middle of the funnel to the bottom and finally to purchase by creating specific retargeting audiences at each stage.
For the middle of the funnel, we began retargeting site visitors & ad viewers. For the bottom of the funnel, we retarget the most engaged site users based on on-site behavior metrics and actions, as well as those who have started the device insurance purchase process, but didn’t complete the journey.
With this level of retargeting segmentation, we can provide CTAs and offers depending on the position of the user in the funnel, as well as test different creative or campaign types on different audiences.
Since we know that our bottom of the funnel audience members are highly engaged and have shown the desired intent to purchase, we can nurture them a little further with a special offer, like getting their first month for $1, to help drive sales.
Picking The Right YouTube Creative Strategy
At Tuff, it’s imperative to adopt/design a YouTube Creative Strategy that incorporates feedback loops, integration, and accountability between creative and performance teams so you always know just how well the creative is working.
This process involves a serious amount of testing, including getting to know which type of video ad resonates with which specific YouTube audience. We lean strongly on the data we receive from our video marketing to better inform the next round of creative- this could be anything from different colorways, to different CTA’s.
One example is Slang, a partner we noticed after the first round of prospecting creative whose video strategy containing a digitally animated character produced a 0.15% higher CTR than that of a real actor. Knowing this sort of information is vital for producing a strong creative strategy.
Creating engaging content that speaks directly to the user you’re trying to reach is extremely important, as capturing even the smallest percentage of users from a high volume audience ultimately increases traffic to the site, and feeds your broader marketing funnel. Being sure that your YouTube strategy includes higher quality audiences at the top of the funnel benefits the audiences being remarketed to at the bottom of the funnel.
In order to measure if you’re creating performing videos, and reaching the right audience, look for high CTR and View Rate metrics on prospecting campaigns. Once you find high levels of View and Click engagement, you can then begin drawing conclusions about what sort of YouTube marketing strategy will work for your top of funnel campaigns.
Additionally, the assets that are speaking directly to Prospecting audiences will likely be different to the assets speaking directly to Retargeting audiences. This would require further testing as one campaign is essentially built to build awareness as the other may be built to drive sales.
YouTube Ads provides an effective & cost-efficient way to introduce your brand at scale, as well as successfully retarget to your users, staying top-of-mind throughout their purchase or conversion journey. If you’re ready to see how YouTube Ads can work for your business, reach out to our YouTube Ads agency.
Hey there, I’m Raj, a PPC Strategist currently residing in Chicago, IL! I have 4+ years experience in Paid Digital Strategies (Google Ads, Amazon Advertising, Paid Social), for both B2B & B2C clients across a plethora of industries. After drifting across the Atlantic from grey old England, I purchased a property just outside the Windy City. You can now find me trying and failing to utilize my gardening equipment.