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YouTube ad targeting: Hit the target the first time

Effective ad targeting on YouTube is one of the most important components of your video advertising campaign. With Google Ads (YouTube’s ad platform), getting your sights set on the correct target has become critical due to improved controls that allows a user to “mute” an advertiser.

Read more: Targeted Ads Don’t Just Make You More Likely to Buy

Let’s examine the YouTube advertising targeting options available. When preparing your video ad campaigns on YouTube, you can segment your audience by:


This YouTube targeting option includes the choice between desktop, tablet or mobile, plus the iOS and Android operating systems.


Targeting by location on YouTube allows you to filter countries, cities or territories within a country or even a radius around a specific location. Many brands market nationally, while some exist within a singular city, state or region. Location targeting allows you to choose the area where your customers reside and your operations exist.


The demographic targeting option refers to more than gender and age. It also includes selectors such as language, parental status and household income level.


This YouTube ad targeting option reaches people interested in topics related to your product, business or service. You can choose from topics such as fashion, sports, makeup and gaming. Google then finds people known to be interested in the subjects you identified in the targeting and shows them your video ad as they peruse or view content across the Google Display Network, YouTube and YouTube search.

Contained within interest targeting is the ability to add different audiences to your ad groups. You can choose from:

Affinity audiences

  • Groups of people who have shown a strong and consistent interest in specific topics or activities
  • Potential customers who are already engaged with content that aligns with your brand or product

Custom affinity audiences

  • You can craft specific audience segments instead of relying on pre-defined categories. You can do this by hyper-targeting – focusing on specific interests or niche.
  • For instance, you can select to target “amateur astrophotographers” instead of just “photography enthusiasts.”
  • Examples:
    • Brand: Tech startup
      • Target Audience on YouTube: People who watch specific YouTube channels about coding, tech review platforms, and developer forums.
    • Brand: Pastries and desserts
      • Target Audience on YouTube: People who subscribe to food bloggers, and visit cooking channels.

In-market audiences

  • People who are actively considering making a purchase related to your product or service
  • Unlike affinity audiences, which target based on general interests and passions, in-market audiences focus on purchase intent based on recent online behavior.

Video remarketing

  • Focuses on re-engaging viewers who have already watched your videos on YouTube or other platforms.
  • This could involve showing them different versions of the same video, related videos, or other promotional content.
  • The goal is to keep them engaged with your brand and potentially convert them into customers.


Selecting your placement option on YouTube allows you to place your video ad on specific channels, videos or sites, such as YouTube channels, YouTube videos, apps and websites on the Google Display Network.


Targeting your YouTube ad based on keywords lets you show your video ad based on words or phrases related to other channels, videos or sites. For example, the keyword “fly fishing” might place your video ad in front of someone watching the video “learn how to fly fish.”


Topic targeting on YouTube matches your video ad with YouTube videos related to the topics identified in targeting. For example, you target to the fashion topic, and your video ad shows on YouTube to a person watching a fashion trends video.

As you can see, YouTube offers numerous possibilities for targeting. Reaching people who are interested in your product offering is the key to closing the deal. Carefully study all your YouTube advertising options, and review your customer insights to create a well-defined Trueview campaign.

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