So you want to know how to advertise on YouTube? Setting up a YouTube advertising campaign using TrueView for the first time is pretty straightforward. However, to get the highest ROI, there are some essential steps that need extra attention. Let's dive into some specific tips on ad creation, placement and budget determination.

How to advertise on YouTube

Step 1: Determine your YouTube ad campaign goals

Ask yourself what you want to accomplish with your YouTube ad campaign. Is it to build general awareness around your brand? Or maybe you want to get people to visit your website for closer consideration of your products and services? Is it to drive app installs or purchases? The possibilities are endless.

Knowing your goals before you create your campaign is not only smart business but also the best way to ensure you reap all the advantages from YouTube advertising

Related: Determining ad groups for your YouTube campaign

Step 2: Create your YouTube video

Depending on your budget, your YouTube advertising video might be created in-house or by an agency. YouTube video ads can also be shot and edited with YouTube Director, which is ideal for small businesses on a limited budget. In select cities in the United States and the United Kingdom, YouTube will even send a professional filmmaker to your business for free when you spend at least $150 running YouTube ads.

Need help with your YouTube ad? Find out what makes a good YouTube ad?

Step 3: Place your YouTube ad

A TrueView ad lives on YouTube. You must first upload your video to YouTube, then link it to TrueView when you set up your campaign. You can upload the video as public or unlisted. Public means your video ad will be readily available and seen by anyone on your channel, while unlisted is only viewable to those who have the video URL.

Step 4: Decide on a YouTube ad format

TrueView — so called because it assures your ads are actually being seen — offers two forms of YouTube advertising formats:

YouTube ad placement options

TrueView in-stream

In-stream ads play before or during a YouTube video. Viewers have the choice of skipping these ads after five seconds. If your ad is skipped, you don’t pay. In fact, you will only be charged:

  • When someone watches your ad for at least 30 seconds
  • When someone watches your entire ad if it is fewer than 30 seconds
  • When someone engages with your ad in some way, such as clicking on the card or the call to action

TrueView discovery

Discovery ads appear on YouTube in a few places:

  • The search results
  • The columns that show related videos
  • The video themselves (as overlays)

As soon as someone clicks one of these elements, you will be charged.

With that said, bear in mind that your ads have a pretty good shot of reaching the right people at the right time, thanks to Google’s vast amounts of data and advanced algorithms.

Choosing to learn more about TrueView shows that you’re already on the right path. With 3.25 billion hours of video watched every month, YouTube is a powerhouse of activity and a definite must for any serious social advertising campaign.

Step 5: Determine your YouTube ad budget

Budgetary decisions are paramount to any YouTube advertising strategy. Hopefully, you’ve determined (or been told) your total budget for the campaign.

Next, you will have determine the start and end dates for your campaign. These should be built around your campaign goals and any timeliness around your creative, especially if the content isn’t evergreen.

For example, Christmas is one of the busiest times for YouTube advertising. Make sure you set your campaign and video ad to run accordingly; no one wants to be reminded to “shop early” or enjoy “free holiday shipping” once the big event has passed.

Finally, you need to know what is the most you are willing to pay for a view (the maximum CPV).

The TrueView ad type will determine how you are charged. Let's say you decide that a video view is worth $0.10.

  • TrueView in-stream ad: You will pay a maximum of $0.10 when someone watches 30 seconds of your video (or the duration if it's shorter than 30 seconds) or when someone engages with an interactive element — whichever comes first.
  • TrueView discovery ad: You will pay a maximum of $0.10 when someone clicks on a video ad thumbnail or title and begins watching your video.

Step 6: Create an ad group

An ad group can only consist of ads of the same format (i.e., TrueView in-stream or TrueView discovery). If you want to run both types of formats, you will have to develop multiple ad groups.

To set up your YouTube ad groups:

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account.
  2. Click the campaign tab, then select the campaign to which you will add a new ad group.
  3. Click the ad groups tab, and then +AD GROUP button.
  4. Name the ad group.
  5. By “your YouTube video,” choose a YouTube video.
  6. By “video ad format,” choose either in-stream or video discovery ad.
  7. Enter information to create your ad.
  8. Set a bid amount.
  9. Edit targeting methods.
  10. Click “save ad group.”

Dive deeper: Determining ad groups for your YouTube campaign

Ready to advertise on YouTube?

Setting up a YouTube advertising campaign is a fairly straightforward process that will get easier each time. Plan for your campaign setup with precision by knowing your endgame and developing your tactics to support your strategy. The more effort you put into the campaign up front, the more seamless the actual setup will be.

Want more? Explore YouTube advertising targeting best practices.

Jason Nesbitt

Jason Nesbitt

Jason Nesbitt is VP of Media & Agency Operations at Strike Social, where he oversees a global media-buying division that manages 15,000+ campaigns daily. He holds an MS in Advertising from the University of Illinois.