YouTube Ads: Getting the Content Right

AdWords for video offers search marketers the chance to reach a big, very engaged, very specific audience with rich content. If they’re used well, we can create a big impact even with a limited budget. In this column I cover the basics of true view and also discuss the importance of YouTube-specific content.

Every YouTube stat we see screams reach and volume:

  • Globally the second-largest search engine
  • 28.5 million unique users a month
  • 66 percent reach of the Internet

When you add a highly engaged audience to the mix and very specific targeting, it makes sense why more advertisers are seeing the importance of YouTube in their branding strategies.

The True View

The reason we can say a YouTube ad view is a true view is because the user has opted into view. This is one of the biggest selling points of AdWords for video. This means it is not a case of reaching as many eyeballs as possible; anyone viewing your content is engaged. Any opted-in views also add to the video’s view counts. There are options for a forced pre-roll, and although this is great for ensuring a large audience sees your ad for the reason above, inviting a user to watch your content rather than forcing it will create a more positive feeling toward your brand.

We have two ad types in the interface available to us:


A pre-roll ad before a user sees their content. The user can choose to skip the content after five seconds. You are only charged if a user watches the video to completion or for more than 30 seconds.



This ad can appear in YouTube search or in display. You are charged when a user clicks to watch.


Create the Right Content for Your Audience

Both of these ad types are great, as you know the view of an ad is from someone who has chosen to watch your content. The next question is how we get users to opt into our content. The first step is to think about the mindset of someone who is on YouTube. An advert’s content should be emotional, heartfelt, funny, and shocking – this will help users commit to opt in. Pushing an overly promotional ad is unlikely to engage the user and more likely to create an ill feeling. The ad should be engaging within the first five seconds. The view-through rates impact the CPV (cost-per-view), so the right start to a video is important to get more users committing to view. This will help drive more views for your budget.

The AdWords for Video interface reports earned actions: how many users like, subscribe, click, and watch more content. A more compelling video is more likely to drive these interactions. A user who has shown further engagement compared to a user who only watched a video is far more likely to be able to recall your ad. Use VTR, CTR, earned subscribers, earned views etc. to measure the success of a video with your selected targeting methods.

Be Smart With Remarketing Lists

There are many remarketing lists we can build based on user behavior. It makes sense to collect audiences’ lists on as much as possible, which can help shape strategy. We can build remarketing lists on the following:

  • Visited a channel page
  • Viewed any video as an ad from a channel
  • Liked any video from a channel
  • Disliked any video from a channel
  • Commented on any channel video
  • Subscribed to a channel
  • Unsubscribed from a channel
  • Viewed certain video(s)
  • Viewed certain video(s) as ads
  • Liked certain video(s)
  • Disliked certain video(s)
  • Commented on certain video(s)
  • Shared certain video(s)

Here are a few ways we can utilize these lists to our advantage:

  • Retarget users who have engaged positively with content. We can also use these lists on the GDN; this helps give us extra reach.
  • Advertise videos sequentially to help tell a story. Once a user has viewed ad one, show them ad two. This helps engage users and pull them into a story and avoids bombarding users with the same messaging.
  • Exclude users who have negatively interacted. This is another way to avoid ill feelings toward your brand.

AdWords for Video offers a great way to reach a very relevant and highly engaged audience. Getting the content right is paramount to getting noticed and creating a positive experience for your targeting. Utilizing the earned actions helps us measure the success of our content and targeting. Test and learn which content works best for which users. Collect as much data as possible throughout the granular remarketing lists to help continue driving a positive journey for users.

Related reading

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youtube channel optimization