Youtube Advertising: The Complete Guide to YouTube Ads

YouTube is the second-highest ranking website in the world with more than 2 […]

youtube advertising

YouTube is the second-highest ranking website in the world with more than 2 billion monthly active users. When users on YouTube watch an ad to completion, they are 23x more likely to act upon the call-to-action of the video, and even when they don’t watch the ad in its entirety they are still 10x more likely to take action than those not exposed to the video ad.

The sheer enormity of the platform, combined with the encouraging success rates of video ads, could be the reason that 88% of marketers who responded to our State of Video Marketing 2024 survey said they plan to use YouTube in 2024. But there’s a lot to consider before you get started.

You need to know the different types of YouTube ads and how to advertise on YouTube. And, as a marketer, the main question you’re probably asking yourself is: “How much do YouTube ads cost?

In this handy guide, we’re going to break down all of that and more. Consider this your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about advertising on YouTube in 2024.

Why Advertise On Youtube?

YouTube is one of the best options for creating a cost-effective advertising campaign:

  • Average CPV: $0.026
  • Average view rate: 31.9%
  • Average view CTR: 0.514%

According to Jindal, Fortune 50 Advertising expert, “Advertisers reach their target audiences far more efficiently by adding YouTube to their media plans … especially the hard-to-reach 16- to 34-year-olds, where the cost-per-reach point is optimized when 24% of your TV budget is allocated to YouTube.”

YouTube reaches a massive global audience in 61 countries, in 61 different languages. YouTube is meant for building platforms, engaging with your audience, and creating crucial relationships. 

72% of B2B marketers in North America use YouTube to dish out content.

Throughout the years, YouTube has made the transition from a video-based site to a channel-based site. Users have become less amused with individual videos and more engaged with subscriptions to channels, which provide consistent entertainment. With 100 hours of video uploaded every minute, finding the right content quickly is crucial to users and advertisers alike. 

YouTube Demographics

  • 82% Teens (14-17)
  • 72 millennials (18-34)
  • 58% Gen-Xers (35-50)
  • 25% Baby Boomers (51-59)

Now, here’s an option for reviewing your demographic research. You can take the very crucial questionnaire, study the graphs or meander through the list below. (I would do all three, as they don’t contain the same information.)

Can you confidently answer the following questions?

“More Millenials watch YouTube than cable.” If you’ve been doing your research, you’ve probably read this on every website mentioning YouTube – but what does it mean?

This isn’t just an eye-opening fact about marketing opportunities – it’s about budget allocation. Where are you spending the majority of your money? And are you reaching who you think you are? 

According to the study, 72% of B2B marketers in North America use YouTube to dish out content. If you fall into this category, are you making the right efforts to compete in your market? 

With more than a million advertisers on YouTube, and the majority of them small businesses, are you maximizing efforts to remain competitive? 

The average attention span of humans dropped to 8.25 seconds in 2015 according to Statistic Brain Research Institute.

This is bad news for both you and me. It’s bad for me because it means you stopped reading after the first three sentences – bad for you because you now have to engage your customers within just a few seconds!

To put this in perspective, even a goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds – so now that 5 seconds before your new customer clicks “skip ad” has never been more important. Have you and your company taken the right steps to engage your audience in these micro-moments?

  • Teens (14-17): 81.9% on YouTube
  • Millennials (18-34): 72% on YouTube
  • Gen-Xers (35-50): 58% on YouTube
  • Baby Boomers (51-69): 43% on YouTube
  • 25% of men watch a video a day compared to 17% of women

YouTube Ad Formats

Before you venture into the realm of YouTube advertising, it’s important to understand the various types of ads, how they work, where they display, who they reach, and how much they’ll cost you. From TrueView in-stream ads to remarketing, we break them down — complete with tips on driving conversions.


  • Platform: desktop, mobile devices, TV & game consoles
  • Placement: True View video ad (skippable after 5 sec) or non-skippable
  • The video plays before the video
  • Include companion 300×60 pixel ad on desktop



  • Capture interest in the first 5 seconds
  • Ad is FREE until it plays 30 seconds, played in full or engaged
  • Purpose:
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  • Target by:
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  • Tips:
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  • Ad must be watched in order to continue
  • 15 or 30 seconds
  • Desktop & mobile only
  • Not available on all accounts
  • Purpose:
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  • Target by:
    undefined undefined undefined undefined
  • Tips:
    undefined undefined


In-display ads have been condensed to encompass in-display, in-search.


  • Platform: desktop, mobile
  • Placement: Appears to the right above suggested videos
  • Specs: 300×250 and 300×60
  • Companion banner not guaranteed


  • Displays ad at the top of the video suggestions column
  • Desktop & mobile
  • Native advertising


  • Platform: Desktop
  • Placement: appears above organic search results
  • Merged platforms with in-display


  • Placed above the organic listing
  • Desktop only
  • Native advertisement
  • No landing page
  • Purpose:
    undefined undefined
  • Purpose:
    undefined undefined
  • Targeting
  • Tips:


  • Platform: Desktop
  • Placement: semi-transparent ad on lower 20% of video
  • Specs: 480×70 (Flash) or text


  • Text, display, or less than 10-second animation ad shows over video
  • Desktop only
  • Placed on the lower 20% of video
  • Ads are part of the GDN
  • Companion banner ad possibility
  • Can set ads to only run on YouTube
  • Target by:


  • Eligible Audience
  • Details
  • This remarketing list can be used across AdWords for additional remarketing purposes

How to advertise on YouTube

Here’s where we get into the nitty-gritty. First, your video ad will live on YouTube, so start by uploading the video file to your YouTube channel. Make sure the video is public—or, if you don’t want it popping up in your channel, you can make it unlisted.

1. Create your campaign

Sign in to your Google Ads account and select New Campaign.

a) Choose your campaign goal, based on your brand’s marketing objectives:

  • Sales
  • Leads
  • Website Traffic
  • Product and brand consideration
  • Brand awareness and reach
  • Or: create a campaign without a goal’s guidance

b) Select your campaign type. These include all forms of Google ads (including search results, text, and shopping) so make sure you select Video or, in some cases, Discovery campaigns in order to show your video to audiences on YouTube.

Google Ads campaign dashboard highlighting Display and Video

Note: Display ads can also be surfaced on YouTube, but remember that they aren’t videos, they’re just text and a thumbnail, and they also show up across Google’s Display network.

c) Since you’re most likely working with video, you’ll want to select your video campaign subtype:

video campaign subtype options

d) Don’t forget to name your campaign in a way that allows you to easily locate, manage, and optimize it in the future.

2. Define your campaign parameters

a) Select your bid strategy (for the most part, your campaign type will determine this: do you want conversions, clicks, or impressions?)

b) Enter your budget by day or as the total amount you’re willing to spend on the campaign. Also enter the dates your ad will run.

c) Select where your ads will show up:

  • Discovery only (i.e., YouTube search results);
  • All of YouTube (i.e., search results, but also channel pages, videos, and the YouTube homepage)
  • YouTube Display network (i.e., non-YouTube affiliate websites, etc.)

d) Select your audience’s language and location. You can choose to show ads worldwide, or target by country. Remember that only 15% of traffic to YouTube comes from the U.S., so it’s good to think broadly.

e) Choose how “sensitive” your brand safety guidelines are. In other words: how much profanity, violence or sexually suggestive content are you willing to have your ads run alongside? More sensitive brands will have their ads running in a smaller pool of videos, which may drive up the price you pay.

content exclusions options for youtube ads

3. Target your audience

If you haven’t created buyer personas yet, take the time to do so. The more you know about your audience, the better you can target them, and the higher your ROI.

  • Demographics: This covers age, gender, parental status, and household income. But YouTube also offers more detailed life-stage data: you can target new homeowners, college students, new parents, for instance.
  • Interests: Use topics and keywords to target people based on their past behaviour (i.e., search topics). This is how YouTube helps you find people at crucial moments, like when they’re researching their next electronics purchase, or trying to learn how to build a website.
    Pro Tip: Remember that whether a video is relevant to a user’s interests is 3x more important to people than if it has a celebrity in it, and 1.6x more important than if it looks like it was expensive to produce.
  • Remarketing: Target audiences who have already interacted with your other videos, your website or your app.

4. Set your campaign to live

a) Enter the link to your ad, and hit the Create Campaign button to set your campaign running.

For more nitty-gritty detail, YouTube has their own guidelines for ad creation here.

Pro Tip: This is also the place to go if you want to get ambitious and start experimenting with ad sequence campaigns, where you can upload multiple types of ads that support each other and are arranged to surface to your audience in the right order.

How To Create Non-Sucky Video Ads

Don’t expect to get it right the very first time.

It takes more than a video camera and a few bucks to create a YouTube ad that actually converts. We must first define a goal and have the ability and drive to reach it.

In other words: The Big Idea.

Capturing your brand’s tone and personality can often be a good starting point when coming up with a YouTube marketing campaign. If your brand does not yet have a defined personality, think of what you value and what you want to accomplish. These can be defined within a few types, including creating an entertaining video, creating an inspirational video or fulfilling a micro-moment.

87% of people expect to interact or communicate with a brand at anytime.

With searches taking place on mobile devices more than desktops, being in front of your customer in these important moments is crucial to the success of your campaign.

Campaign Maintance

After you create this next-level marketing campaign, be sure to connect with your users. This can be as simple as answering comments or as challenging as pushing things to the next level. 

Be ready to launch your campaign across all media platforms. Engagement is key – and connecting with your users is crucial to accomplish this. According to Brandshare, 87% of people expect to interact or communicate with a brand at anytime. This means you need to always be prepared to answer questions or feedback regarding your new solution or product.

What’s Next?

Ok, you’ve just launched the best campaign ever and people love it! Knowing how great you are, you likely predicted this so you’re already thinking about the next chapter of your incredible campaign – maybe you’re even ready to launch it.

If not, this is something you want to prepare for. Successful brands and campaigns are always prepared for success even if it doesn’t always happen. You certainly don’t have to create the next Breaking Bad, but having something in mind for what comes next if things do work out is very important in continuing this outstanding engagement. 

Youtube Advertising; Best Practices

This allows both your AdWords account and YouTube Channel to work together to pull accurate analytics from one another, as well as provide your account with additional information including overlays and click data. Read more about that here. 

Use Exisiting Remarketing Lists To Define Your Audience

If you are already running an AdWords remarketing campaign, take a look at the demographics of these campaigns. These are your current customers – and the people who are interested in your company.

This is usually a good starting place when venturing into a new platform. You can also do this by going to Google Analytics if you have this on your website already.

Hook Viewers In 5 Seconds

If you don’t snag a viewer’s attention in the first five seconds — or eight at the most — you’ve lost them. Bummer.

Clickable Annotations

Add clickable annotations to your videos to create links to your content straight from the video. These are native by nature and provide a welcoming experience for the user. 

Landing Page

Make sure your landing page complements your ad format or clickable annotation. This makes the jump from YouTube to your website a lot less drastic for the user and reduces the overall bounce rate.


Ensure both the audio and visual elements function correctly across all platforms and devices. 

Allow Comments

Open up feedback and communication with your customer. This can give your audience a chance to comment or critique your videos. (But remember to read the comments and respond, or you’ll look out of touch.)


Use a voiceover for your videos. Why? Just because a viewer isn’t physically watching doesn’t mean they don’t have YouTube open in another tab. By using a voiceover instead of native sound, you can clearly get your message across.

Connect with story + emotion

In 2018, Wells Fargo ran a brand awareness campaign on YouTube that directly acknowledged their recent history of spectacular customer abuse scandals. According to the bank’s VP of marketing, the campaign—meant to re-establish trust with regular people—was seen as risky and polarizing for internal stakeholders.

No matter your personal opinion of retail banking, in this one-minute long cornerstone ad, the combination of high-end costume-drama Western visuals and uplifting shots of people “doing the right thing” in offices is undeniably emotionally effective. Add in some famous guitar riffs and you have some pretty stirring stuff.

The takeaway: anyone can “tell a story.” If you want to tell a really effective one, go for the throat and tell the story that takes a risk.

Pro Tip: If you have the resources for multi-ad sequencing (i.e., multiple videos of differing lengths that target your audience in a given order), there are several kinds of narrative arc you might want to consider.

Tips To Increase Views

Posting Videos

  • Filename should be clean & user-friendly keywords
  • Description
    Only first few sentences will show
    One-to-three sentences keyword heavy
    Link to channel & external websites
  • Tags
    Only enough to accurately describe video
    Include keywords from title & description
    Use (“) to convey multi-word tags
  • Thumbnail
    Use high-res image from video uploaded separately
    1280×720 resolution
    Minimum width 640 pixels
  • Clickable Annotations
    Link to subscribe, visit website, social media, etc.
    Make them look native with a landing page to match
    Don’t place in lower third of video (overlay ads)
  • Video Sitemaps
    Submit video to Google with webmaster tools
    More open to go viral
  • Embedding
    Allow others to access coding to embed video
  • Syndication
    Submit video to RSS feeds
    Drive exposure across various platforms
  • Share
    Share across all social platforms

YouTube Title Character Counts

  • YouTube Title
    Relevant keywords & call-to-action
  • YouTube Video Title
    Best: 67
    Max: 78
  • YouTube Related Video Title
    Best: 62
    Max: 72
  • YouTube Related Home Video Title
    Best: 47
    Max: 50
  • YouTube Search Title
    Best: 62
    Max: 78
  • Google Search Title
    Best: 59
    Max: 63 

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