There are a million places to advertise online, from the Google Search page, to individual blogs, to social media sites. One of the most visual and dynamic ad platforms online is YouTube ads.

YouTube ads can play before, during, or after a video. And, they benefit from being the exact same medium as the content people are already consuming on the site.

Want to know the secrets behind leveraging this powerful medium? Here are 7 tips to help you find advertising success.

Have the Right Goals in Mind

To properly leverage YouTube video ads, you need to understand how users interact with them. It’s not enough to just upload a video ad and treat it in the same way as you would a banner ad. Because people usually experience a video ad as an interruption of their entertainment, having a call-to-action is not always the best option.

You may find it better to use a top-of-funnel approach. This means focusing more on awareness and less on immediate conversions. After all, most people just want to skip your ad and get on to their cat memes.

On the other hand, if you’re using remarketing tactics (more on that later), it might be best to treat video ads as closer to the bottom of the funnel.

The real takeaway here is to make sure you understand what stage of the customer journey your audience is at. Then you need to align the video ad with that reality.

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Choose the Right Format

There are several different formats that YouTube ads can take. And picking one that works well for your campaign can be key to its success. Be sure to read the in-depth descriptions that YouTube gives, to get a better idea of what they can offer.

TrueView Ads

TrueView Ads are the pay-per-click of YouTube advertising. The advertiser pays after a user clicks a call-to-action or watches 30 seconds of the skippable ad. These can appear on the home page, search results, and as related videos. They can also play before a video.

TrueView ads can be anywhere from 12 seconds to 6 minutes, but will be skippable after 5 seconds if they are not in the 15-20 second range.

Preroll Ads

Preroll ads can play before, during, or after a video, and are 15 to 20 seconds long.

Bumper Ads

The last kind is Bumpers, which are 6 seconds clips that play before a video.

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Be Where Your Audience Is

In addition to just running ads toward specific demographics or viewing histories, YouTube lets you directly target an audience you think your message will resonate with. When creating a YouTube video ad, you can specify certain channels that you would like your ad to appear on.

If you select a large channel, you will need to make sure your bid is high enough. If you thought of it, chances are a lot of other advertisers did too! Try targeting smaller channels to test this strategy, and see if you can bring some of that audience to yourself. You can also target individual videos if something is especially relevant.

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Target by Device and Operating System

Usually when running an ad on any website, it is not of great concern whether the viewer is on Windows vs Mac, on Android vs iOS. For social media sites that leverage video ads, like YouTube, you can use these settings to your advantage! This works great if you are advertising a mobile app or tool that is dependent on a certain device or operating system.

If you have an app in the Google Play store but not the Apple App Store, you likely will want to exclude iPhone and iOS users. You can even increase or decrease your bids based on what kind of device you value your ad being shown on. This approach is great for targeting Generation Z, who spend a lot of time on mobile devices.

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Create a Thumbnail for Your Video

If your video ad is going to appear in search results or you’re going to have it publicly available on your channel, you will want to entice users into clicking on it. One great way to do this is with an attractive thumbnail.

Take a look at trending video’s thumbnails and you’ll find a common thread. Many of the video thumbnails explain all you need to know without ever reading the title. This can be done by putting the title in the actual image or including clear imagery that says something words can’t.

If you have multiple ads that you want to be public, it’s important to make them both distinct as well as recognizable as your own brand. Consider some consistent shapes or colors for each of your thumbnails, but include a distinctly different main image.

If you’re not a great designer, that’s okay too! There are plenty of free stock photos out there that you can use in your thumbnails.

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Talk TO People, Not AT Them

Unsurprisingly, people don’t like seeing ads. That’s why ad blockers are widely used. Just shouting facts and features at potential customers is sure to drive them away.

Video provides a unique opportunity to explore storytelling in advertising. It’s easy to skip a boring ad, but a story can engage people and make them watch until the end.

Immediately connecting with people on an emotional level ensures more engagement than a normal ad. There is even science to back up this strategy. Studies show that story is 22 times more memorable than just facts.

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Leverage Previous Leads

Like Google ads, YouTube ads don’t exist in a vacuum. You can use leads from your website to target on YouTube as well. There are two main ways to do this.


Remarketing is the practice of following your website visitors around the internet with targeted ads. This works in the same way for YouTube, allowing you to show video ads to users who have already interacted with you online.

This is an option to set up in YouTube ads, and can be very effective! Video can be the type of ad that makes someone convert, due to its higher level of engagement as compared to a banner ad. It makes for a great last-touch that can finally get someone to take a desired action.

Upload Your Email List

Having a large email list can be a major plus when running YouTube video ads. In the same place that you set up remarketing, you can create an audience from an email list. YouTube matches those emails with Google accounts and allows you to show your video ads to that audience.

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Harness the Power of Video

YouTube ads can be incredibly effective for any online campaign. They’re visual, allow for storytelling and audience engagement, and can be fun to create.

And even if you don’t think you have the resources to create a compelling video ad, there are great options out there for free or inexpensive assets that can help to make your ads look professional.