YouTube is a major force in online marketing and selling, in fact, YouTube is the 2nd most used search engine, right behind Google. Most of us know how huge YouTube is:

  • 2 billion users worldwide
  • 5 billion views/day
  • 79% of internet users have a YouTube account
  • About 78% of marketers consider YouTube to be the most effective platform for video marketing

No matter if you are selling a product, a service, training, or expert knowledge, YouTube is the channel that people use to research, learn, play, listen, and buy. The key is to know who you want to sell to and how to make them pay attention.


The question we often get asked is:

How can I use YouTube advertising to generate leads?

Research shows that people respond similarly to YouTube ads and TV ads. When a person sees an ad on TV, they think that brand/product/service must be good because there’s an ad on TV…same for YouTube, the thought is if advertising on YouTube, that brand/product should be good and I should buy it. So it’s important to make that ad stand out.

3 Areas of Focus for YouTube ads:

To get the best results you need to look at these three areas:

1. Customer Targeting

There are many different ways to target people and thought needs to be put into deciding how and who you want to target with your YouTube ads.

Different Types of Targeting

Custom Intent: Begin here – this works really well. The audience you can build based on search and behavior and keyword on Google properties. You make a list of keywords and submit it to Google and they build you an audience, then you can use that audience in your targeting. Even if they don’t go to YouTube, but they go to Google, they will fall into your audience so when they do go to YouTube, they’ll see your ad.

Remarketing/Retargeting: Placing a code/pixel on your website. Every time a new visitor comes to your site, the code drops an anonymous browser cookie. Later, when your cookied visitors browse the Internet, the cookie will let your retargeting provider know when to serve ads, ensuring that your ads are served to only people who have previously visited your site.

Placement Targeting: Individual video placed in front of videos. You can use the URL of videos to run your ad in front of them.

Retargeting Ad User Journey

Keyword Targeting: When someone types in a keyword, that keyword will get tagged to that user, then during that same session, you can get an ad in front of them. If you don’t get in front of them at that moment, if in the next 15 minutes they start watching other videos, you can still get in front of them, as long as it’s during that same session.

Topics Targeting: List in Google Ads for different topics to target.

Similar Audiences Like Lookalike Audiences on Facebook Targeting: Facebook will build an audience for you based on people’s interactions with yours, like your remarketing list.

In-Market Audiences Targeting: During 7 to 14 days, if someone has changed their behavior from their normal behavior, it usually means they’re in the market for something. For example, if doing research for a vacation, one would book flights, hotels and car rentals. Google will see that research and there will be a predefined/pre-build audience inside of Google you can select to target. So if your product resonates with some of the audiences that are pre-build, it’s great to select them in your campaign to advertise to them.

Affinity Audiences Targeting- 2 options:

  • One option: select a pre-build audience based on people’s interests.
  • Second option: build your own affinity audiences based on interest in specific areas.

These are keyword-driven interests. They are based on apps on people’s phones and based on places relevant to your audience.

3 Types of Customers: brick and mortar

  1. Checkout Shopper: have the product in hand, have a question but ready to checkout.
  2. In-Store shopper: come into the store, asking questions, doing research. In the market, very interested.
  3. Window shopper: walked past your storefront and stopped.

Different targets should be applied to different types of customers. Since the customers would be in different stages in the buying cycle you would speak a different way to each type of customer. When you know what targeting you’re going to choose, you get a feel of the tone of the messaging you want to put in front of them and what type of video might work best. This helps to make sure your message matches your customer mindset and you get a better result when focusing on this.

2. Video Creative

Probably the most important part. YouTube has in-stream “true-view” ads where you see the “skip ads“ button and a call to action.

YouTube true-view ads

With in-stream ads, you pay for engagement. So you only pay when someone watches past 30 seconds, clicks on your call to action (CTA) which takes the user to your website, or gets to the end of the ad if the ad is less than 30 seconds. Don’t create videos less than 30 seconds. A good length for video ads is 2 min 20 sec.

The trick is to make sure that when someone has been on your ad for 30 sec., that they’re actually qualified and they know it’s an ad and not just watching videos. Make sure you disqualify anyone who’s not for you and let them know this is an ad and what they’re getting into before the 30 seconds is up. Get people to skip away from your ad before 30 seconds. You could do this by saying who you’re calling out so they can skip out if they aren’t in that category. Or do a call to action before 30 sec, so they can skip out.

Structuring Your Ad is Key
• The first 5 sec: Call out Demo: Example: “Hey if you’re this type of person….”
• Before 20 sec: Give an early CTA. Example: “See my webinar and slides, which I’ll give to you.” By doing this, you’re telling them this is an ad so they can “skip ads” before you have to pay
• Next 30 sec: Core content
• Final CTA: 75 sec. Needs to be compelling

3. Perfect Offer

Frame your offer as an opportunity. People go into unconscious mode clicking around YouTube, watching videos not intending to watch. When in that mindset, the mind is looking for a new opportunity, so if you’re going to promote, the key is how you frame the ad by not saying your product/service is an “improvement” to what the user already has, but that it’s an “opportunity” for something better.

This helps with offer conversion. How? If you think about it, every 6 months or so, people will look into better ways to do something, instead of adjusting or fixing what they have to make it work. If you have a product/service that is an improvement to what they already have, it would be difficult to sell on YouTube. If you say “stop doing it that way, that’s the old way, I have a brand new way of doing it”, that’s more attractive. Fixing a product is not ideal to sell on YouTube.

About the Author:

I’m Suzanne Garcia-Misa, marketing support for Placemaking Group.

For more information about my background visit our team page, or connect with me on LinkedIn.