YouTube Optimization Strategies & Best Practices

TrueView video ads can provide a breadth of viewer actions which allow advertisers to measure and track how well the advertisements are meeting advertising goals. In order to make the most of your advertising efforts, we recommend coming to understand the various components which make up a successful video advertising campaign.

1) Make the most of your cost-per-view (CPV)

The average CPV is the average amount an advertiser pays for a view of their video advertisement. The cost per view is a valuable signal which relates to the competitiveness of your ad in the auction ecosystem. Advertisers can monitor and adjust their CPVs to deliver their messages more efficiently. For instance, advertisers can asses the CPV to determine if they are paying more or less for views than the price they had expected. In instances when they are paying less, there is an indication of less competition in the market and they may then have a chance to gain views at a lower cost. Conversely, if the CPV is higher than anticipated, they may be paying more than they would for a different target.

Tips to meet your CPV goals

  • Improve ads: Get to know your audiences and understand the best way to reach them. Engaging content will help drive a higher view-through rate. As view-through rates rise, CPVs fall because the auction values relevant ads that audiences will most likely enjoy.
  • Adjust your bids: You will never pay a higher CPV than your maximum bid. The views can drive far more activity beyond what advertisers pay for directly. It is difficult to determine the true value of a view. and the best starting point to define the value of a view is to compare the paid views, owned views (views of content you own), and earned views (views from shares).
  • Expand targeting: Expanding targeting allows the ad-serving system to identify auctions where ads and bids may be more competitive. This may reduce the campaign’s’ overall average CPV. When advertisers restric targeting, they are increasing their competition to bid amongst the select targets. This usually manifests in higher cost-per-views.
  • Disengage other campaign-level restrictions: Turning off accelerated delivery, platform targeting, or editing the ad rotation settings may assist in driving a higher view rate and a lower CPV.

2) Understand the view rate

The view rate indicates how compelling viewers find a video and is the primary metric for determining the health of a video ad. The higher the view rate, the more engaged viewers are with the content. Video ads with high view rates will generally win more auctions and cause a lower CPV than a video ad with a lower view rate. View rate is calculated by using the total number of views the video has received, divided by the number of people that the ad was served to.

Tips to meet view rate goal

  • Improve advertisements: There are several ways to improve the advertisements so that they are more compelling to the audiences.
    • Usually, shorter ads have higher view rates; try editing the ad to convey the same message in 20 seconds rather than 30 seconds.
    • Changing the introduction or adding or removing call-to-actions can help improve view rate and shape viewer behavior.
    • Small differences in the ad’s text or video can make large improvements in view rate and cost over the course of a campaign.
    • To avoid ‘ad fatigue’ try rotating 2-3 different advertisements.
  • Improve targeting:
    • If you notice more skipping of your video ad you may have identified the wrong target audience and you’ll want to adjust your targeting methods to find out which audiences respond best to the ads.
    • Consider if you are hiding ads from some viewers by restricting where your ad shows. TrueView video ads are billed only when someone chooses to watch a video, so it’s possible to find new, receptive audiences by expanding targeting. This usually also reduces the average CPV.

3) Make the most of the click-through rate (CTR)

CTR is another way to measure how well the video campaign is doing. Higher CTRs indicate that viewers are more engaged with the content and are more interested in learning about the products and or services offered. If the goal is to drive more people to the website, YouTube channel, or Watch page with a video ad, the CTR is the right metric to assess and optimize for. Click-through-rate is determined by taking the total number of clicks on the video ad, divided by the number of people that the advertisement was served to.

Tips to increase CTR goal

  • Add a clear call-to-action (CTA) overlay with the video:
    • CTAs may be accompany both advertisements on the TrueView in-display and TrueView in-streams. The call-to-action feature does not cost advertisers anything extra and can lead to higher viewer engagement. It is also used to add an interesting element to the advertisement.
    • An example of an effective call-to-action may mention a specific selling point about the business which sets it apart from competitors, or it can indicate what the visitor may expect to find on the website when they click on an advertisement.
  • Remove low-performing inventory and or placements:
    • The “Targets” tab will display information about the placements of the ads, and once there advertisers can select the, “Where my ads were shown” label. Once there, advertisers can edit any poorly performing placements.

4) Narrow your targeting

Advertisers can narrow targeting options in order to show videos to audiences with specific interests,which helps ensure that advertisers can reach the customers that are most likely to be interested in the product or service the advertisement is promoting.

The different targeting methods include:

  • Demographic groups: Examples include age, gender, and parental status
  • Interests: There are several categories available to choose so advertisers may reach people interested in the specific topics.
    • Affinity audiences: Affinity audiences are used to raise brand awareness,and reach people who have a strong interest in relevant topics.
    • In-market audiences: In-market audiences will find customers who are researching products and actively considering buying a service or product like those that an advertiser offers.
  • Video remarketing: YouTube TrueView allows advertisers to reach viewers that have previously interacted with their videos, YouTube TrueView video ads, or YouTube channel. When advertisers link their AdWords account to their YouTube video account, AdWords will create custom lists automatically.
  • Placements: Placements allow advertisers to target unique channels, websites, or placements within each.
    • Channels (YouTube Partner Channels)
    • Videos (YouTube Videos)
    • Sites (Display Network – includes as a publisher site)
  • Topics: Topic targeting allows advertisers to reach a range of videos, channels and websites related to the topics selected.
  • Keywords: Keyword targeting allows advertisers to show their video ads based on keywords, or phrases related to a YouTube video, channel, or type of website that an audience may be interested in.

Use campaign exclusions

The “Video targeting” tab allows advertisers to see how each targeting method has performed historically. It is here in the video targeting tab that advertisers can measure results and determine if an advertisement isn’t relevant to a particular topic, placement or demographic group. If advertisers find that the ad is not relevant to a particular topic, placement or demographic group, advertisers can select which topics, placements or demographic groups should be excluded from the campaign.

5) Improve bidding

Changing bids for TrueView in-display ads can lead to a higher likelihood that the advertisements will appear before viewers most interested in the ad’s product or service. In general, viewers who choose to watch the in-display video ads exhibit a desire to engage with the brand so it makes sense to increase bids for the in-display format. If an advertiser is more interested in acquiring views, traffic to the website, or increasing awareness of the brand, then increasing bids for the in-stream format may increase in the likelihood that viewers will see at least a portion of the advertisement.

Tips for increasing bids

  • Consider increasing bids on all in-stream ad groups in the TrueView campaign. Note that clicking on the “Modify columns” in the “Ad Groups” tab will allow advertisers to see which ad groups are in-stream and which are in-display,  
  • Advertisers can use bulk, in-line editing to edit all in-stream ad group bids simultaneously. In order to accomplish this advertisers must click “edit” and then select “change bids.”

6) Use video remarketing

Once linking the YouTube account to the AdWords account, advertisers can create remarketing lists based on the various ways viewers may have interacted such as whether they watched a video, subscribed to a channel, or liked the a particular video, or even shared a video.

Tips for video remarketing

  • Advertisers can use video remarketing lists for display ads just as they can target videos to people who have interacted with the website. Advertisers have the ability to create dynamic combination lists to target people who have seen a video ad, but haven’t converted, or to show ads to those that have been to the website but have not yet visited the YouTube channel.
  • If an advertiser has multiple YouTube channels,they can also link more than one YouTube account to a single AdWords account. Although the advertiser can create several lists per channel, they cannot use the same list on multiple channels.
  • It is not recommended to pair remarketing lists with multiple types of targets, like demographics or interests. It is recommended to target broadly and opt in to all of the TrueView video formats.

7) Use Advanced campaign settings

Advanced settings help advertisers optimize their campaigns to deliver advertisements in the most efficient manner  For instance, the schedule setting allows advertisers to

Specify when they would like their ads to appear and also control how long the campaign runs. This setting can help advertisers keep their content fresh so people don’t see the same advertisement continuously.

Advertisers can target their video ads to show for people in specific locations or that express interest in specific locations.

Each campaign has a language targeting setting which allows advertisers to choose the language of the sites and videos that they would like their ads to appear on. AdWords looks at a user’s Google language setting or the language of the user’s search query, currently viewed page, or recently viewed pages on the Display Network to decide where to show the advertisements.

The ad delivery setting allows advertisers to choose how often active ads are shown in relation to one another within a given ad group. Ads can be optimized for views, conversions, or can be rotated evenly. The ad deliver setting also allows advertisers to set a frequency cap, which will limit the number of times an ad appears on the Display Network to a given user. The frequency cap setting can be helpful if an advertiser would like to limit the number of times someone sees your ad, or if an advertiser would like to gain more exposure to new audiences.