How to Create a YouTube Ad Campaign: 9-Step Guide

YouTube is considered as one of the most powerful social media platforms for advertisers.

The numbers speak for themselves. YouTube is the second enormous search engine after Google, with 1.9 billion monthly active users. 50 million of whom are video content creators who upload 300 hours of video per minute to YouTube.

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Sounds great, isn’t it?

If you are the one who is wondering how to advertise on YouTube and searching for an easy step-by-step guide for creating a YouTube ad campaign, then you have come to the right place.

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After Google ads have changed its interface, managing YouTube ads is now much easier than ever. Actually, if you are experienced in Google ads or Facebook ads, then many features of YouTube ads should be familiar to you.

In today’s article you are going to learn how to create and optimize your YouTube ad campaign. 

Let’s begin!

1. Set up your YouTube ads account

The first task, in order to set up your YouTube ads account, is to link your Google ads account to your YouTube channel.

How to do it?

Once you are on your Google ads page, click the “Tools” icon on the top of your screen and from the drop down menu in Setup column choose “Linked Accounts“. The page with various Google products and services will appear, but you need to scroll down until you find “YouTube” and click “Details”. Then you will be automatically redirected to the page where you need to add your YouTube channel. Type your YouTube channel’s name in the search window and as soon as it occurs, click on it.

If someone else owns the YouTube account, you will be asked to enter the email of the owner and request access.

The second task that you need to do is to decide which video to use for your YouTube ad campaign and upload it directly on YouTube. Remember that your video’s quality and ability to catch users’ attention are crucial things to your performance success.

Social media studies show that 20% of viewers leave the ad video if it doesn’t catch their interest in the first 10 seconds. In this case, it is advised to make most out of your ad video in the first 8-10 seconds, in order to grab viewers’ attention.

Let’s move forward.

2. Choose the objective of your YouTube ad campaign

Once your Google ads page and YouTube channel are linked, video is uploaded, it’s time to create your advertising campaign. Go to your Google ads dashboard and on the right choose the “Campaigns” icon, click on a “+” to select the New Campaign.

After that you will have to choose the objective in order to determine what you want to achieve using your YouTube ad campaign. Alike as with Facebook ads, your selected goal makes impact on the type of ads you are going to run, the placement and other additional information.

In this case, depending on your social media strategy, you need to choose one particular objective for your YouTube video ad campaign, which will help to measure the success of your ad performance.

YouTube gives you an opportunity to pick from 6 different objectives.

  • Sales. Helps to increase your sales.
  • Leads. Helps to receive leads and other conversions by encouraging users to take actions.
  • Website traffic. Helps to get the right users to visit your website.
  • Product and brand consideration. Helps to put your products or services in front of a huge audience and encourage users to explore them.
  • Brand awareness and reach. Helps to reach a broader audience and create some buzz around your brand. This one is the best for the new brands that aren’t well-known and want to reach the bigger audience.
  • App promotion. Helps to get your app into the hands of more users.

Once the objective of your YouTube ad campaign is selected, you will be moved to a page of recommended campaign types for that objective. Choose “Video” as the campaign type and click “Continue”.

3. Decide on your YouTube ad format

The available YouTube ad formats depend on the chosen objective of your ad campaign.

YouTube suggests you 3 different types. I am going to briefly review each of them, so you can select the one that you believe will work best with your ad campaign’s objective, video length and ad budget.

  • TrueView ads. This type is the most suitable for your ad campaign if you want to create an initial awareness of your brands.

If you decide to run TrueView ads format, then you will receive the high ROI (return on investment) because you will pay only when the users watch at least 30 seconds or the whole video, also if viewers interact with your YouTube ad, for instance click on call-to-action.

This ad format can have a “Skip” button, which lets viewers to skip the ad after 5 seconds. In this case, using the skippable version of TrueView ads, it is recommended to make the video in length between 12 seconds and 6 minutes, however, if you use the non-skippable TrueView ads format, then your video should be 15-20 seconds in length.

  • Non-Skippable In-Stream ads. This type of ad format is the best choice if your YouTube ad campaign’s objective is related to the audience reach. Using Non-Skippable In-Stream ads format, the length of your video shouldn’t be more than 6-15 seconds, otherwise you will receive an error message.

This ad type runs before, during and after the YouTube video. The advantage of applying this ad format is that the viewers will watch your whole video and in this way you will get the better conversion rate.

However, this type of ads can seem annoying to the users because they are forced to view your YouTube video ad and can’t skip it. Also, comparing with TrueView ads, the cost of Non-Skippable In-Stream ads is higher due to the reason – you pay for each view.

Remember, it doesn’t mean that the users, who cannot skip the ad, will bring the higher engagement level.

  • Bumper ads. It is the shortest YouTube ad format. At just 6 seconds per bumper and this ad plays before users watch a video.
Bumper ad example

Using the Bumper ad format you only need to pay based on CPM (cost per 1000 impressions). It is obvious that you can’t tell the whole story in 6 seconds, however, you can use this type of ad in order to highlight the most significant features of your brand you want your audience to notice and remember.

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4. Set your YouTube ad budget and bidding strategy

Now it’s time to name your ad campaign, set the budget and decide on the start and end dates to run your ad campaign, if you want to make your ad appear at the specific period.

In the budget’s section you can set a daily budget or choose one total for the whole ad campaign. Remember that scheduling your YouTube ads is an effective method to spend your ad budget because in this way you can choose the period of time when the majority of your target audience is active.

Moving on, although the cost of YouTube advertising can seem high, but it is much lower than you can imagine. In fact, a typical YouTube video ad costs 0.10 – 0.30 dollars per view (CPV), depending on your video quality, your targeting and your chosen objective.

When it comes to the bidding strategy, it is very important to do it right because bids have direct influence on the success of your ad campaign. It doesn’t mean that is necessary to bid high, however, the rule of thumb needs to be implemented – the higher the price, the more impressions and vice versa.

While thinking which type of bids to choose, it is advised to start with:

  • Maximum CPV. It is used with TrueView ads format and determines the biggest sum of money you are willing to pay for each click on your ad.


  • Targeting CPV. It is the average price you want to pay for the conversions.

5. Customize your YouTube ad campaign

The next step is to decide where you want your YouTube ad to be shown. In this case, you have an opportunity to select from 3 network options where to run your YouTube ad.

  • YouTube Search Results. This option is available only if you run the discovery ads.
  • YouTube Videos. This is the best options for the majority of the ads because it gives the perfect balance of price and exposure.
  • Video Partners on the Display Network. This option is suitable if you decide to run your YouTube ad on sites of partners outside of YouTube. Although, the cost is lower, but keep in mind that the exposure will be respectively lower as well.

After finishing with networks, scroll down and you will see the sections where you need to choose languages and locations which you want to target. Fill in all the details and move to the section of inventory types.

What does inventory type mean? It helps you to avoid the videos you don’t want your ad to be associated with and ensure that your ad is run with the quality content. Here are inventory options:

  • Expanded Inventory. This option will assist you in maximizing your YouTube ad potential, however, your ad will be shown with some sensitive or mature content, like videos that viewers should be 18 or older.
  • Standard Inventory. This option is recommended by YouTube and it is considered as the most suitable for brands. But your ad can still be run on a content, which includes some violence or language that won’t work for your brand.
  • Limited Inventory. This option is considered as the safest one if you are afraid of your brand’s image and the content your brand can be associated with, because it excludes all sensitive content.

What is more, you can exclude the particular types of content you don’t want your ad to be related with, such as tragedy and conflict, sensitive social issues and etc.

YouTube also lets you to exclude types and labels. For instance, you don’t want to show your ad on live streaming videos because they are happening in a certain time. However, remember that each chosen filter increases your YouTube ad costs and decreases the reach. In this case, try to use different combinations and find the right one, in order to make balance of cost and your advertising results.

Before you move to another step, don’t forget to set your frequency cap because it helps to set the limits of how many times your YouTube ad can be shown to the same user. Consequently, you are able to better manage your overall cost, especially if your audience is small.

6. Define your ad campaign’s target audience

While restrictions you selected earlier can improve the audience’s quality you reach, the bigger amount of audience’s filter added may increase your CPV (cost per view). If you are new to YouTube advertising, it is recommended not to be tempted by a variety of filters.

When it comes to targeting, firstly you need to find out what pushes your audience to watch your ad and make a purchase decision and based on that create the highly targeted ad.

YouTube suggests you 3 options of grouping your audience: demographic, interest and behavior targeting.

Let’s review those!

Demographics targeting is simple. You need to select an age, gender, income and parental status of your target audience. However, some difficulties can arise. As YouTube users shouldn’t register in order to watch a video, so YouTube won’t know the demographics of unregistered users and put them into Unknown category.

In this case, while selecting targeting options of your audience, don’t forget to check Unknown category, otherwise around 65% of the viewers will be missed out.

Moreover, you can add detailed information to your demographics targeting in order to narrow your audience. For instance, choose users who are single and rent a flat.

Affinity and Custom Affinity targeting. Using affinity targeting you are able to pick interests’ categories of your audience, such as sports and fitness, news and politics, shoppers and etc. Also you have an opportunity to create your own group of the particular interests, using the “Custom affinity audience”.

Using this type of targeting, you can attract users from the specific websites of your competitors. What you need is to add URL to the custom affinity group and let Google analyze their interests and habits. After that your YouTube ads will be shown to the audience who is interested in products or services similar as you advertise.

In-Market, Live Events, and Custom Intent targeting. Audience in this category is either looking to purchase a particular product or service, such as home insurance (in-market targeting) or experiencing an event, such as home renovation (life events targeting). Similar to custom affinity targeting, you need to create a custom intent group in order to determine your audience’s profile and the products or services they can be searching for.

Furthermore, custom intent targeting is considered as the most effective method of targeting because includes audience who is interested and ready to make a purchase.

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7. Boost visibility of your ads with keywords, topics and placements

After defining your target audience, you can narrow your reach with keywords, topics and placements.

You shouldn’t look for the keywords that users are searching for, however, the keywords that are related to the YouTube videos where your ads will be shown are important. YouTube takes the keywords from titles, descriptions and tags, match them with your chosen keywords and put your ad into the most relevant YouTube video content.

Actually, very similar approach works for topics. If you choose fashion topic, it means that your ad will appear on videos which content is related to fashion and style.

What is more, YouTube provides you with opportunity to select the exact channel or even exact video to place your ad on, but keep in mind that the more placements you add, the higher cost of your YouTube  ad will be.

8. Choose a bid amount for your ad campaign

Probably you remember that in the 4th step I have reviewed the bidding strategy types, so now it is time to set a bid amount.

If you decided to choose Maximum CPV, then it is advised not to set your bid too low because your YouTube ad won’t run at all. In this case, before placing your bid, you need to analyze the data and average CPV calculated for your ad campaign based on your ad budget.

Remember, the higher the Maximum CPV, the more results you get of your ad performance. Most advertisers are suggested to set Maximum CPV at 3-5x the average, in order to make your YouTube ads show higher at the start of your campaign.

If you selected Target CPV bidding, then the rule is – the higher a bid, the better your ad performance.

9. Select a video for your ad

Congratulations! It is the final step of setting up your YouTube ad campaign, when you need to select the video you want use as your YouTube advertisement. You may find your already uploaded video in the search box or there is an opportunity to copy and paste your YouTube video URL. After that click on the button “Continue” and your YouTube ad should start running just after YouTube processes it.

In conclusion, YouTube is a fast growing advertising platform which can give you, as a brand, a powerful results at the relatively low costs. Actually, there are a lot of factors that make a big impact on the success of your ad campaign.

Today the main 9 steps were discussed in order to help you to create your first YouTube ad campaign.

Have you ever tried to launch your own YouTube ad campaign? Do you have any suggestions to add? Feel free to leave your feedback in the comments’ box below!

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