YouTube Advertising Guide: How to Advertise in YouTube Videos


YouTube’s growing prominence in popular culture has shown that it can serve as much more than just a way to share adorable kitten videos – it has become a highly effective venue for accessing massive audiences through online advertising.

YouTube has become the venue by which budding musicians and performers get their first big break. Justin Bieber first got discovered on YouTube, and more recently YouTube has made Psy’s hit “Gangnam Style” the most viral video of all time. And that’s not just an empty title – “Gangnam Style” has reached nearly 1 billion views, and those views can be equated to serious YouTube advertising revenue.

YouTube Advertising, Video Ads

To put things in perspective: YouTube gets over 1 billion views per day, which means that if YouTube was a search engine, it would be the #2 largest, nearly 2X bigger than Bing and Yahoo search combined, and roughly a third the size of!

Google is horse-dancing straight to the bank because of Psy’s immense YouTube success, and the perpetuating notion that the hottest headline sensations happen on YouTube. With YouTube being increasingly viewed as the place where pop culture happens, its advertising potential continues to grow exponentially.

YouTube’s advertising potential is as big as the record industry itself, hence Psy being invited to meet with Google’s Eric Schmidt (and the resulting obligatory dance lesson). These viral videos aren’t just sensational fads – they are big advertising money.

Logic dictates that marketers should go where the people are – YouTube!

Want to be the next “Gangnam Style?” Don’t we all? There are a number of factors that go into making a viral video a success, and more than just a little is luck.

Trying your hand at making a viral video that aims to dominate the social sphere is great fun, but making a less globally ambitious yet more useful YouTube advertising video is likely the way to go for advertisers who want to further their reach into the massive (and still very much untapped) YouTube advertising realm.

(P.S. If you are still dead set on going after the holy grail and aim to earn the coveted title of “viral video,” read our Top 25 Most Viral YouTube Videos of All Time, complete with tips on creating your own viral video sensation.)

How to Advertise on YouTube: YouTube's Display and Video Ads

Since Google has taken over YouTube, they’ve gone to great lengths to make advertising on YouTube as easy and customizable as creating ads in AdWords. The options are nearly as numerous, with the two major options being display ads and video ads.

Display Ads on YouTube

YouTube Advertising Display Ads exist within the greater Google Display Network. Display ads let your ads appear alongside related YouTube videos, or as pop-ups within YouTube videos.

  • Standard Banner Ad – These are just like the regular Google Display Ads, available as standard banner ads and rich media ads. You can use topic categories and keywords to specify where you want these banner ads to appear. Bright, colorful images that will grab the eye are best practice.
  • In-Video Overlay Ads – In-video overlay ads appear as pop-ups within existing contextually targeted videos that are targeted by selected queries. Destination URLs within in-video ads can go to locations outside of YouTube.

YouTube Display Ads

In-video ad and banner ad to the right

In my personal YouTube viewing experiences, I find pop-up ads incredibly annoying. But there’s no denying that they are impossible to ignore, even if they are X-ed out immediately. Banner ads in the sidebar might be more easily overlooked.

Advertising on YouTube With Video Ads

Creating YouTube video ads is easy and completely free – you can shoot it yourself for a homebrewed feel, or hire some help for a crisp, professional look.

Wisely, YouTube advises “Don’t think Titanic. Don’t even think ‘sales pitch.’ Think about quick how-tos, or positive reviews from customers. Be personal.” No one goes to YouTube looking to watch extended daytime infomercials.

Need some ideas? Check out our Guide to Creating YouTube Content, packed with video ad concepts and ideas, as well as information on recording your video and optimizing it for SEO. And if all else fails and you’re really stuck, fall back on YouTube fundamentals – kittens! You wouldn’t be the first to create a cat-focused marketing campaign.

This is a favorite in the WordStream marketing department

YouTube advertising’s latest video ads fall under the umbrella of ‘True View’ video ads. While I can’t testify to any added “truth” value, True View ads are a great deal budgeting wise because you only pay when viewers actually choose to watch your video.

True View video ads come in a number of different formats:

In-Stream Video Ads: The Ads that Pop Out When You're Watching Your YouTube Videos

Probably the most popular YouTube video ad format, in-stream ads play your ad before or during another video from a YouTube partner.

A viewer's immediate reaction tends to be full of grimaces, groans, and complaints since you’ve taken the liberty of interrupting their YouTube video viewing adventure.

Viewers are obligated to sit through 5 mandatory seconds of the ad, after which they get to decide if they want to keep watching or skip the rest of the video and go on to what they wanted to see in the first place.

If you’ve done some good targeting and have an interesting video ad, viewers might opt to continue watching, which can only mean you’re doing it right!

YouTube Advertising Instream

With in-stream video ads, you don’t pay unless the viewers watch your video for 30 seconds, or until the end of the video. If they choose to skip, you don’t pay a penny. What’s great is that with this option, you can create videos longer than 30 seconds, allowing you to experiment with video ad lengths.

Since you pay the same amount whether the viewer watches 30 seconds or the whole extended video, you can get more exposure for the same price. In fact, some studies have shown that longer videos (closer to the 60-second ballpark) tend to do better than the shorter ones. My theory is that longer videos are probably developing a richer story that is keeping viewers engaged, rather than throwing out a short “look at this, you should buy it” ad.

In-stream ads allow for contextual targeting, interest targeting, and demographic targeting. The more specific your campaign, the better.

In-Slate Video Ads: YouTube Ads that Play Before Your Video Starts

YouTube’s In-Slate video ads appear before YouTube partner videos that are 10 minutes or longer. Viewers can choose to watch one of three ads or alternatively can choose to see regular commercial breaks during their video.

In-Search Video Ads

In-search video ads appear above or to the right of regular YouTube search results.

In-Search video ads work similar to text ads in Google search, with advertisers bidding on keyword terms. While the same ad text strategies used to create AdWords text ads applies to these in-search video ads, the YouTube advertising market is much less saturated, allowing advertisers who might normally be unable to compete for popular keyword terms on Google search to get traction on YouTube.

advertising on youtube insearch

In-Display Video Ads

In-display video ads appear alongside other YouTube videos, or on other Google Display Network sites that match your targeting options. It’s in the realm of “well if you liked that video, you’ll absolutely love….”

advertising on youtube indisplay

Additional YouTube Video Advertising Tools and Features

YouTube has a number of tools, extensions, and targeting options that can easily go unnoticed, but are absolutely worth checking out. YouTube advertising provides:

YouTube Analytics DataYouTube provides a wealth of analytic data, letting advertisers collection information on metrics such as the number of views a video gets, user engagement, and at which points viewers stop watching the video.

Remarketing – You can conduct YouTube advertising remarketing ads to users who have already watched your previous videos on YouTube or on the Google Display Network.

Channels – YouTube Channels are free to create, and function as your business’s own station, not unlike a Facebook page. You can customize your channel to express your business’s personality, and make it easy for viewers to subscribe to your future videos.

how to advertise on youtube

Taylor Swift’s example of a colorful customized YouTube branded channel. A bit too colorful for my taste, but I’m sure the tweens love it.

Advanced Targeting Options – YouTube advertising offers some great demographic targeting options including niche interest targeting and age targeting. Watch out, single, male, small dog owners under the age of 35!

Mobile Ads – When you’ve gotten the hang of YouTube advertising videos, you can extend your reach to smartphones and tablets.The YouTube for mobile app makes it easy for users to watch YouTube videos on the go - and your mobile YouTube ads!

Homepage Ads – Advertisers can purchase prime ad space on YouTube’s homepage, ensuring plenty of eyeballs and attention.

Additionally, advertisers can opt for something referred to as a "Homepage Roadblock." Yes, it is just about intense as it sounds.

With YouTube’s Homepage Roadblock (also referred to as a YouTube Masthead – the terms seem to be used interchangeably), you are the only advertiser on the YouTube homepage for 24 full hours. That equates to about 23 million viewers, with 100% of the attention and no competition. This immense ad takeover doesn’t come cheap – a single day will cost you around $300,000, so this option is primarily for those with the deep pockets. Like Rich Uncle Pennybags pockets.

youtube ads

The main point of being on the homepage is branding, so if you do have the dough to make the investment, ensure that you are making good use of the prime real-estate by incorporating dynamic ads and engaging, clickable features.

Ways to Use YouTube Advertising Ads

Brand Awareness: YouTube videos let you create unique brand experiences and express your business’s personality. Consider producing a fun explainer video for your product or service. Creating videos is a fun and practical way to develop your brand’s identity. Time to get funky!

Product Launch: Videos are a great way to introduce a new product or build excitement about an upcoming release.

Audience Engagement: YouTube can be a great venue for connecting and interacting with customers. A great example is Old Spice’s video response campaign in which they had Isaiah Mustafa, aka “the man your man could smell like” release a number of videos on YouTube answering questions and comments put forth by fans on Twitter and Facebook. The campaign was incredibly successful, with Old Spice’s Twitter following increasing by 2700%

Customer Help: YouTube is a great place to offer how-to video solutions for common customer problems. Your videos can serve as a more engaging FAQ, or help customers gain a more advanced understanding of the features your product offers. Try hosting Q&A sessions, or town hall meetings to increase conversion with customers.

YouTube Advertising: Untapped Exposure

With so many different ad formats to choose from, YouTube advertising is a playground for marketers looking to experiment with ad formats and gain exposure in a predominantly untapped market. Where else can you put advertising on other people's popular YouTube videos?

Have you tried marketing with YouTube ads? What has your YouTube Advertising experience been like?

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Blogger Whale
Nov 28, 2012

Great read.Lots of useful information. Will definitely share this article with my friends. Thanks

Robert Axelsen
Nov 28, 2012

A great read, and very very informative, Larry. Answered some questions for me, and I am excited about all the possibilities of YouTube advertising that I did not know of. Will definitely give it a try :)

Sep 25, 2013

Did you try their advertising afterall? How was it?

Specialist SEO
Nov 28, 2012

Very nice post guys.In truth, I don't do a lot with YouTube and tend to specialise in other areas and leave these jobs alone - might have a rethink of that :)Andy

Steve Sharp
Nov 29, 2012

Thanks for all the info on You Tube. Just happened to come at the right time as it is the next tool in my arsenal.

Nov 30, 2012

If I am a user and I upload videos then in that case how can i earn through ads, is there a way that ads on my video I get certain share of those ads.

Jul 01, 2017

Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to mention that I've
truly loved browsing your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing on your rss feed and I'm hoping you write once more

Jan 16, 2018

This site definitely has all of the information and facts I wanted about this subject and didn't know who to ask.

Dec 03, 2012

Excellent article.Thanks for sharing this valuable information.It really is a great help. Keep it up!

Open Cart
Dec 10, 2012

I have been researching and experimenting a lot with Youtube advertising and more interestingly how to optimise the videos to rank in the SERP's. I think Youtube is a hugely untapped area of online marketing that is only going to get bigger. I personally believe that Youtube marketing could be more effective than SEO as it is easier to get results plus videos are far more interactive.Grant

Perry Belcher
Jan 04, 2013

really informative article, thanks for sharing it Larry.gona apply ur tips... soon

May 26, 2013

So how do i start using Yotube Invideo Ads? Who can upload and manage them for me?Can we do that ourselves in-house direct with YT or do i need a certified content provider? thank you.AG

Ventriloquist Guy
Jun 07, 2013

AG:  I believe you can upload Invideo ads via the YouTube Adwords interface..

Jun 19, 2013

'kolaveri di' another song in India which got really hit on Youtube. I don't why it got so hit throughout India! Neverthless as part time singer, he really did make lot of money online through Youtube!

Bijuterias de fábrica
Jul 08, 2013

I found your article a useful support guide. Thanks Larry!

Jevaughn Brown
Jul 31, 2013

This is one of the most specific and clearly written educational advertising articles I've read in months. The section on TrueView ads is exactly the kind of introductory information to that aspect of YouTube marketing I've been looking for. I will definitely be digging deeper into this whole area to start advertising as best I can. Here's to making a profit right from the start. Gracias Larry!

seo consulting
Aug 13, 2013

This is a keeper and am certainly gonna bookmark this for furthert read, since most of my clients are now requesting for this medium as well. Thanks for the indepth analysis of the use of youtube for advertising, really learnt alot from it.cheers 

Cecilia Lewis
Sep 24, 2013

I am not looking for the ability to athis kind of advertising makes me sick and crazy and I will boycott anything advertised in this way

Jan 17, 2014

Haha, well, you're 1 out of a Billion, so who cares?

Aug 26, 2015

tanks for let me comment on this post

Sheena Mathieson
May 19, 2016

I've learned a lot with this article! Really informative! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

John Augustin
Sep 30, 2016

I use adwords video to remarket! My target audience consumes a lot of video content and as such we are evolving a robust video strategy.Working with video campaigns can be a lot of fun if you have your audience targeted well. Expensive if you don’t

Dec 02, 2017

It doesn’t matter how much you involved in producing your videos; if you are not marketing & promoting your youtube videos, your channel will never be viewed by the bulk of your target viewers.

Actually, I was making so many common mistakes while promoting my youtube videos on my channel. But I followed Youtube SEO guidelines most of which is shown by your information here, and now I am getting a solid result for getting views & to my youtube channel. The one that really grabbed my attention, it’s the adding the targeted keywords at the beginning of the headline and the ideal use of video tags in YouTube Videos. Although I’ll continue working on optimized descriptions. Furthermore, by understanding this article, I got some more ideas. I would implement and see its further effect.

I own newly started a youtube channel and soon having 4K subscribers, this article encouraged me to understand the exact tactics of youtube. I have got now many ideas about youtube promotion that advised me a lot to promote a video in Youtube channel. Thank you for sharing the article... Keep vlogging & sharing such informative articles.

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