YouTube Ads for Beginners: How to Launch Your First Campaign

Video content is powerful.

YouTube alone has over a billion users. That’s almost one-third of all people on the Internet — and each day those users watch a billion hours of video, generating billions of views.

That’s a lot of ‘billions.’

What’s more, YouTube on mobile alone reaches more 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the US.

But that’s not all.

According to a report on ‘The State of Video Marketing in 2018,’ 81 percent of people are convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video. Plus, 76 percent of businesses say video helped them increase sales.

So it’s no wonder that video marketing is on the rise.

If you’re dying to know how to tap into the awesome power of video marketing, this article is for you.

First, you’ll learn about the different types of YouTube ads available in 2018. Then, I’ll show you how to setup and configure your first YouTube advertising campaign.

Let’s jump right in.

Types of YouTube Ads

There are six types of YouTube ads:

  1. TrueView ads
  2. Non-skippable instream ads
  3. Bumper instream ads
  4. Sponsored card ads
  5. Overlay ads
  6. Display ads

Before you begin creating your first campaign, it’s important to understand each YouTube ad type. That way, you can tailor your ad for the format you plan on using.

Let’s get to know each of them.

What is a YouTube TrueView Ad?

TrueView In-Stream YouTube Ads

This is the main advertising format on YouTube — and for that reason, we’ll be covering this type in more depth than the others.

TrueView ads give viewers the most control over the advertisements they see. Because of this, Google reports that eight out of ten viewers prefer TrueView to other in-stream video ad formats.

But TrueView ads are great for businesses too.

Advertisers only pay for TrueView ads when users watch for at least 30 seconds, watch an entire short video, or interact with an ad in some way, such as clicking on a call-to-action.

And because viewers can select the ads they want to watch and skip the ads they don’t, advertisers save money while also reaching a more interested audience.

YouTube requires skippable TrueView ads to be between 12 seconds and 6 minutes in length.

Now, there are two main types of TrueView ads: in-stream ads and discovery ads. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

TrueView Instream Ads

TrueView in-stream ads play before a viewer’s chosen video.

The image below features a TrueView in-stream ad from Unbounce:

TrueView In-Stream YouTube Ad

In-stream ads also feature a small countdown timer and a link to the advertised site in the bottom left of the screen.

What’s more, TrueView in-stream ads have a companion banner ad that’s displayed in the right-hand sidebar above the suggested videos list.

The image below shows the companion ad for the Unbounce advertisement above:

Display YouTube Ad

Marketers are able to customize TrueView in-stream ads with calls-to-action and text overlays.

Next up?

TrueView Discovery Ads

TrueView Discovery YouTube Ads

TrueView Discovery ads appear within the Youtube search results and in the right-hand sidebar of watch pages above the suggested videos list.

The ads consist of an image thumbnail and up to three lines of text.

The image below shows a TrueView discovery ad for a movie trailer which is displayed above the organic YouTube search results:

TrueView Discovery YouTube Ad

Clicking on discovery ads will take users to the YouTube watch page or relevant channel page to view the video.

Why Should You Use YouTube TrueView Ads?

TrueView ads are a great way to reach your target market.

Firstly, they’re low-risk.

Remember, you’re only charged when viewers opt to watch your entire ad, view it for at least 30 seconds, or interact with the ad in some way.

This is awesome.

Because although 76% of consumers reflexively skip these ads, you can at least be sure your budget is being spent on interested viewers.

Secondly, because TrueView ads are opt-in, you aren’t restricted by time limits.

This means that you can experiment with different creative formats such as product demos, testimonials, or how-to videos.

For example, Grammarly has used testimonials and product demos in their TrueView ads to great effect. In fact, a massive 54.4% of their social media traffic comes from the site.


What’s more, according to Google, when brands use TrueView, they can see views of existing content increase by up to 500%.

Now, let’s check out the other forms of YouTube ads.

What is a YouTube Non-Skippable In-Stream Ad?

Non-skippable in-stream ads are essentially the same as TrueView in-stream ads except — you guessed it — viewers aren’t able to skip them. Because viewers have less control over these ads, they’re not considered ‘TrueView.’

It’s common knowledge that non-skippable ads are unpopular.

In fact, YouTube killed off the 30-second unskippable ad format last year. Today, non-skippable ads must be between 15 and 20 seconds. 

The image below shows a non-skippable YouTube ad from Apple:

Non-Skippable YouTube Ad

Non-skippable in-stream ads aren’t just played before videos.

There are also non-skippable YouTube ads that play part way through videos that are 10 minutes or longer — they‘re also known as ‘mid-roll’ non-skippable YouTube ads.

Unlike TrueView ads, advertisers pay for non-skippable YouTube ads on a CPM basis. ‘CPM’ stands for cost-per-mille, which means that advertisers pay a fee per thousand views.

So it’s especially important to hone your ad targeting so you don’t waste your budget advertising to poor prospects.

It’s also important to bear in mind the function of CPM advertising.

Whereas pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is ideal for converting prospects into leads, cost-per-mille (CPM) advertising is more suited to branding campaigns designed to achieve massive exposure, such as the Apple example above.

What is a YouTube Bumper Ad?

Bumper YouTube ads are the third type of YouTube video ad available to marketers. These non-skippable video ads play before a viewer’s chosen video and must be less than 6 seconds long.

Like non-skippable YouTube ads, advertisers pay for bumper ads on a CPM basis.

Many brands use them as part of a larger YouTube advertising campaign featuring other ad formats.

The image below features a bumper ad from HostGator:

Bumper YouTube Ad

Obviously, bumper ads aren’t an ideal format for stories, testimonials, or product demos. But the 6 second time limit can be a wonderful catalyst for creativity.

For example, check out this bumper ad from Mercedes:


For more inspiration, check out the YouTube ads leaderboard: Bumper ads edition, which showcases 20 of the top bumper ads from around the globe.

What is a YouTube Sponsored Card Ad?

YouTube sponsored cards appear within videos as small call-to-action (CTA) popups.

Sponsored cards are a very unobtrusive form of YouTube advertising. A small ‘i’ symbol pops up in the upper right-hand corner of a video and when a viewer clicks on it, the card expands.

In the image below, you can see the text that appears when I hover my mouse over the icon.

YouTube Ads Sponsored Cards

The image below shows the sponsored cards after I clicked the icon:

Sponsored Card YouTube Ads

YouTube sponsored cards can showcase other YouTube videos, and products through Google Shopping.

Google has a handy guide to help you create a shopping campaign using cards.

What is a YouTube Overlay Ad?

Overlay ads are perhaps the simplest form of YouTube advertising. These are banner ads that appear along the bottom of videos.

The example below shows a banner ad from Hawkers:

Overlay ads can also be text-based like in the example below:

Text Overlay YouTube Ad

For more information on Overlay YouTube ads check out Google’s helpful guide.

What is a YouTube Display Ad?

Display ads are another simple YouTube advertising format. These ads have been around for a while and appear in the right-hand sidebar above the suggested videos list.

The image below shows a YouTube Display ad from Deeply:

Deeply Display YouTube Ad

These ads can also be displayed in different sizes like the ad from MAPFRE shown below:

Display YouTube Ad

Now that you understand the different YouTube advertising formats, let’s run through how to set up your first campaign.

How to Launch Your First YouTube Advertising Campaign

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to create your video or image, and the relevant ad copy.

For inspiration on creating a powerful YouTube video ad, check out the YouTube ads leaderboard. Every month, YouTube releases a rundown of the best YouTube ads from around the world.

Okay, let’s dive in.

Step 1: Upload Your Video Advertisement to YouTube

Before you start configuring your ad campaign, it’s best to upload your marketing video to your YouTube account.

You can do this by logging into your YouTube account and clicking the small camcorder icon on the top-right of YouTube. Then, simply click ‘Upload Video.’

Upload YouTube Ad Video

You’ll be taken to the upload window where you can select the file you want to upload.

Upload YouTube Video

Be sure to fill out all of the necessary information like the title, description, and tags.

Step 2: Create a New Campaign in Google AdWords

Once you’ve uploaded your video, you’re ready to set up your YouTube ad campaign.

First, go to your Google AdWords account.

(If you haven’t already got a Google AdWords account, check out this guide on how to sign up for an account.)

Once you’re logged into your account, click “All campaigns” in the left-hand sidebar. Then click the large blue “+” icon to create a new campaign.

New YouTube Ad Campaign

This will take you to a window where you’ll need to select a campaign type. Currently, Google provides five options:

  1. Search
  2. Display
  3. Shopping
  4. Video
  5. Universal App

Once you’ve clicked “Video,” you need to select a single goal that corresponds to the main thing you want your campaign to achieve for your business.

YouTube Ad Campaign Type and Goal

For example, if you want to use YouTube ads to increase the number of visitors to your website, you would select the “Website traffic” goal. Then, as you continue to set up your campaign, you’ll see recommended features and settings that can help you to generate visits to your website.

To find out more about a goal option, simply hover your mouse over it.

And for more context, the chart below shows further details about video campaign goals and subtypes.

Video Campaign Goals and Subtypes

You can add or remove a goal at any time. And if you’d prefer, you can create your campaign without seeing a goal’s recommendations.

Step 3: Configure Your Campaign

Now, let’s configure your campaign.

Choose a Name

This is only for your internal use, so choose a name that clearly describes your campaign.

This will help you to easily identify the campaign when you start running multiple campaigns in Google AdWords.

Name YouTube Ads Campaign

Set Your Budget

Start by setting the average amount you want to spend each day.

It’s best to start small at first. That way, you can test and refine your advertising campaign to ensure that you’re getting the highest return on investment possible.

YouTube Ads Budget

You can also choose the standard or accelerated delivery method.

Standard will spread your budget throughout the day, whereas accelerated will show your ads at every available opportunity and your budget will run out faster.

To begin, opt for accelerated delivery. That way, you can quickly collect data that you can use to optimize your campaign.

Choose Your Start and End Dates

Simply input your start date and choose an end date (if you’d like one).

YouTube Ad Campaign Dates

Select Your Networks

This section allows you to select where you want your ads to appear.

Because we’re creating a video ad, there are three options available:

  • YouTube search results: Ads can appear next to YouTube search results. (This option will restrict you to TrueView discovery ads only.)
  • YouTube videos: Ads will appear on YouTube videos, channel pages, and the YouTube homepage.
  • Video partners on the display network: This means that your ads will also appear across Google’s other advertising avenues.

YouTube Ads Networks

In this example, we’re going to leave the selection as it is.

Select a Language and Location

Make sure that you select the country and language you want your ad to appear in.

YouTube Ads Languages and Locations

Select Your Bidding Strategy

Now you need to choose how you want to pay for your campaign. Google AdWords provides four options:

  1. Maximum CPV (cost-per-view): Costs are based on the number of views and interactions a video received.
  2. Maximum CPM (cost-per-mille): You’ll be charged for every thousand impressions your ad receives.
  3. Viewable CPM (cost-per-mille or vCPM): You’ll only be charged per thousand impressions when your ad has definitely been seen. For example, if a user lands on the page and immediately bounces off, you won’t be charged.
  4. Target CPA (cost-per-acquisition): Costs are based on actions taken by viewers, such as clicking on your ad.

YouTube Ads Bidding

In this example, our campaign goal is to increase the number of people who visit our site, so we’ll opt for “Target CPA.”

This means we’ll only pay for viewers who convert.

Choose an Inventory Type

This section allows you to only show your ads on the content that’s inline with your brand.

For example, if you’re a dropshipping business selling children’s toys, you won’t want your ads displayed alongside content that is violent or sexual.

YouTube Ads Inventory Type

It’s worth reading through each option to ensure that your ads aren’t shown on inappropriate content.

Exclude Content

This section goes a little deeper by allowing you to opt out from individual sensitive content categories, such as “Tragedy and conflict,” and “Sensitive social issues.”

YouTube Ad Exclude Content

Once again, don’t skip this step — doing so could result in a branding disaster!

Step 4: Select the People You Want to Reach

Before you begin selecting your audience, make sure to give your ad group a descriptive name. That way, you’ll be able to use the same audience selection for future ad campaigns.

Select Your Demographic

This is the first stage of honing in on your target audience.

AdWords allows you to define who you want to reach by options such as their gender, age, and parental status, etc.

YouTube Ads Group

Hone in on Your Target Audience

In this section, Google AdWords gives you plenty of options to find your perfect target market. It’s well-worth exploring them and being as specific as possible.

YouTube Ads Audiences

Step 5: Select Where You Want Your Ads to Show

Next, you can choose the specific type of content that you want your ads to appear on.

Input Your Target Keywords

Enter or paste your target keywords into the box using one word or phrase per line.

YouTube Ads Keywords

You can also use the “Get keyword ideas” tool to find related keywords to target.

Select Topics

Simply select any relevant topics to show your ads on content about specific subjects.

YouTube Ads Topics

Choose Your Ad Placements

Okay, now you can select specific places where you would like your ads to show.

If you leave this section blank, your ad will appear on any YouTube or Display Network placements that match your other targeting selections.

Step 6: Select Your Marketing Video

Next, use the search bar to find your marketing video. Or, if you haven’t yet uploaded your video, click the link to upload it on YouTube.

Create YouTube Ad

Once your video appears, select it by clicking on it.

YouTube Ads PlacementsYouTube Ad Campaign Video

Step 7: Configure Your YouTube Video Ad

Lastly, you need to select your video format.

AdWords will show you which options are available based on the campaign selections you’ve made up to this point.

YouTube Ads Create

Then, make sure to add your URLs, CTA, and headline.

In this example, we’re choosing an in-stream ad format. Remember, in-stream video ads have a companion display banner. So in this case, you can upload an image or let AdWords automatically generate one using videos from your channel.

To finish up, simply click “Save and continue,” and then click “Continue to campaign.”

YouTube Ads Campaign

Congratulations, you just set up your first YouTube advertising campaign!


At first, YouTube ads can feel overwhelming.

But YouTube’s diverse advertising formats provide marketers with a powerful suite of tools to reach their target market.

What’s more, with video content expected to claim 80% of all web traffic by 2019, this marketing channel is well-worth getting to grips with.

Which type of YouTube advertisement are you going to start with? Let us know in the comments below!

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