YouTube Advertising Best Practices Using Adwords

Update: This blog post was written on JULY 9, 2011.  I have posted a more recent update to YouTube Advertising Best Practices posted here!

In this post, I'll share my YouTube advertising best practices tips for getting started when you've never ran a YouTube promoted videos campaign before.  About a month ago, I looked around for YouTube advertising best-practices using Adwords but didn't find any marketers sharing this information.

Before I get started, let me let you in on a little secret.  YouTube has a MASSIVE amount of traffic.

This might not come as a shock to you but in terms of spending your daily budget you should really let this sink in first.  To illustrate, I have a relatively large budget.

The first day I launched the campaign, the majority of my budget was spent mid-day.

The second day, the majority of my budget was gone by the 2nd hour!

YouTube Clicks by Hour

This is with my ad Delivery Method set to Standard meaning my budget was supposed to be distributed evenly throughout the day!  It was as if the Adwords system had all this pent-up traffic just waiting for the clock to hit midnight so it could show my ads again.  That kind of freaked me out.

Here is my YouTube advertising best practices post to help you get your first Adwords YouTube promoted videos campaign off the ground.

Adwords YouTube Promoted Video Best Practices

What is YouTube Promoted Videos?

YouTube Promoted Videos is an online advertising program that allows YouTube users, partners, and advertisers to promote their YouTube video content on the YouTube website.

This service is offered in combination with the Google AdWords program through the Promoted Videos website at: Whenever one of these videos appears on the site, you will see it clearly marked as a "Promoted Video" to indicate that it is an advertisement.

Campaign Setup

In Adwords, create a campaign strictly for YouTube advertising.  I would call it "YouTube" for example.  The purpose for this campaign is to only advertise on YouTube and nothing else.


Assuming you already have videos ready to promote, you're ready to start writing ads.  You will want to write 4 - 5 ads for each video you are promoting (for testing).  In the settings of your campaign, I would recommend Rotating your ads (pictured below).

Adwords Advanced Settings - Rotating Ads

Test different thumbnails, test ad copy, split-test sending traffic to a channel page versus a watch page.  Use images with people in them if possible.  People with unusual expressions do well because people want to know what they're reacting to.

For your headlines, use simple, commonly-used phrases - How to... , Choosing a... , question?, etc.

To set up a YouTube Promoted Video, you go to the Ads tab and create a new ad using Display Ad Builder.

Display Ad Builder

Under Media and Channels, select Video and you will see YouTube Promoted Videos Template as an option.

Adwords Media and Channels

You might think "because this template is for YouTube Promoted Videos, ads will only show up on"

If your network settings are "Relevant pages across the entire network", your ads will show up on AND other sites that you wouldn't expect.  For that reason, I would recommend you choose "Relevant pages only on the placements, audiences, and topics I manage" and add as a placement you're targeting for each adgroup.

Click to expand the screenshot below for a look at how to create a Promoted Video ad within Adwords.  You will notice Promoted Video ads are very similar to text ads.  The difference being you select a YouTube video instead of specifying a destination URL, and you also decide whether to send it to the Watch Page or the Channel Page.

Example YouTube ad for Elder Scrolls V coming out 11-11-2011

Click to See Larger Image


Networks and devices

On the settings tab under Networks and devices, I recommend you choose "Relevant pages only on the placements, audiences, and topics I manage" (pictured below).

Adwords Network Settings

Reason - Since this is your first YouTube advertising venture, your goal should really be to measure the performance of - the largest video site on the planet.  It will be easier to manage and maintain when you're just getting started.

Furthermore, it will save you from wasted ad spend on questionable sites.  I started out targeting "Relevant pages across the entire network."  When I looked at my automatic placements, I noticed a lot of irrelevant sites show up - some with significant click volume!  Sure, I could have added negative sites and even category exclusions but personally, I'd rather not waste ad spend on other sites when testing YouTube advertising performance.  If it doesn't work on YouTube, it won't work on other lower-level sites.

The key take-away is: Don't let Google to decide where to place your YouTube Promoted Video ads.  Target as a managed placement to give your video advertising the best chance to succeed.



You need to make a decision.  Do you want to target All Available Devices (Desktop and laptop computers, Mobile devices with full browsers, Tablets with full browsers) or do you want to target specific devices?  The bulk of the traffic comes from Desktop and laptop computers.  Here's a breakdown percentage-wise with the type of traffic I'm seeing based on device.

% of Adwords Device Breakdown

As you can see, I'm targeting all devices.  97.53% of the clicks I've receive so far have come from Desktop and laptop computers.

You may be wondering "How do I know which device my traffic is coming from?"  In Adwords, you can segment based on Device.  It will show you metrics broken out by device.  You can export the data with a segment by device as well.  Pretty useful stuff.

Adwords Device Segment

As devices gain in popularity, you might want to create separate YouTube campaigns based on each device:

YouTube Account Structure Example

Something to consider.

Bids and Bidding

Without having any prior experience promoting videos on YouTube, I had no idea what the competition was like.  This meant I had no idea what to set my bids at.  My objective was to get good ad position, high click-through rates (CTRs) and to gather data to assess performance.  So, I started my bids out relatively higher across the board to see what would happen.

My advice to you is to set your Max CPCs no higher than $0.25 per click starting out no matter what your industry is.  This will help you gauge whether you have competition and will also prevent you from over-paying.  You also have to ask "How much is a video watch worth to you?"  Put another way, "What do you plan to get out of it?"  Asking these types of questions will help you put a Max CPC you're willing to pay.

Giving tips on how much you should bid is impossible because the answer varies based on competition and industry.  For example, lawyer and insurance-related terms on the search network can go higher than $50 per click!  If I said "Set your Max CPCs to 10% of your search network average CPC..." that would be $5 per video watch.  I doubt $5 is worth a video watch since there's no direct-response intent by the viewer.

Also, remember to change your managed placements bids from the Networks tab, not the Ad groups tab!  If you find you are in an average position of 1, I would suggest you lower your bids daily to find the threshold where you maximize clicks while spending the same without having performance decline.  In other words, try to get the lowest CPC possible while maximizing clicks for the same amount of ad spend.

Demographic Bidding

YouTube is one of the sites that is available for demographic bidding.  The reality is, demographic bidding isn't an exact science yet.  For example, I am targeting a very specific demographic.  Total clicks received from demographic clicks is virtually negligible.  Even though I am targeting a specific gender and age group, the amount of clicks I'm receiving from this target in the 7-day report is extremely small and insignificant.

Key take-away: at the time of this post, demographic bidding is still in development.  Don't expect to see a lot of results but do it anyways if you have a target demographic in mind.

Keywords/Contextual Targeting and Topic Targeting

I would use the highest-volume keywords that pertain to the content in your videos.  For possible suggestions, you can try the YouTube Keyword Suggestion Tool.  For example, I found videos closely related to the type of videos I wanted to promote.  I then ran those URLs through the YouTube video id or url setting and compiled a large keyword list.

You can also target by Topic.  If you decided to only show ads on, your ads will be eligible to appear only on pages that match both your keywords and at least one of your targeted topics.

For more information about YouTube Advertising Best Practices, check out the following resources from Google!

Getting Started Guide: Advertising on YouTube With AdWords

YouTube Advertising best practices

Adwords Demographic Bidding

Build PPC Campaigns Faster With

PPC Campaign Generator

Build PPC campaigns in 5 simple steps!
Simple enough for beginners, powerful enough for advanced users
Training videos and support
FREE stand-alone version of my Keyword Grouper software with purchase (Limited-time!)



  1. YouTube Advertising Best Practices and Learnings - PPC Campaign Generator - February 19, 2012

    [...] July 9th, 2011 I wrote a blog post about YouTube Advertising Best Practices.  Today on February 2nd, 2012 I wanted to write a follow-up in regards to what I’ve learned [...]

Leave a Reply