November 5, 2021

10 Tips for Optimizing YouTube Video Ads 2021

Launching a YouTube Video Ads campaign is a great step, but there are some things you should set up prior to starting to pay for views. That way, you make the most of your budget and see the highest return on investment.

As marketers everywhere are learning, targeted and personalized video ads are an effective marketing tool. Ad spend on video in the U.S. has increased from $7.7 billion in 2015 to $13.5 billion in 2017. While video can and usually does cost more than other advertising formats, businesses are finding that video advertising can deliver great ROI.

According to Aberdeen Group, video marketers get 66% more qualified leads per year, and experienced a 54% increase in brand awareness. What’s more, 76% of companies that used video said it helped them increase sales. With giants like Facebook launching a new video format to drive retail sales and marketing executives predicting the dominance of short video, it’s clear video is becoming a foundation for any effective marketing campaign.

Optimizing Your YouTube Video Ads:

1. Define your metrics and goals.

When analyzing the results, there are four main categories of metrics you can track for each video.

Views and Impressions

Under the “views” category, you can better understand what percentage of the ad people viewed and understand how the ad drove earned views. You can also see how it increased views on your brand’s other videos.


This category can be used to track engagement metrics split up based on age, gender, household income, and parental status.

View Rate

The view rate could signal if the creative and message are interesting or entertaining enough for people to watch the ad. By increasing your view-through rate (VTR), you will lower your cost per view.


Conversions will help you better understand if your ad is driving leads and returning a high ROI for your brand.

Depending on the goals for the brand, you should determine a few goals based on these metrics and formalize a plan for optimizing creative and trying different targeting criteria to improve results. Your goals should also determine the type of content you will feature in the ad — some metrics are better for branding goals and others will drive leads and conversions.

2. Track low performing placements.

If you’re running in-display ads that will appear across the Google Display Network, you can review where the ad has appeared in by navigating to Video Targeting > Placements > Where ads were shown > Display network from your Google Ads Campaigns dashboard. Review this list to see if any particular sites are contributing to poor performance for your desired metrics. Exclude these sites from your ad campaign moving forward to increase your average CPV.

3. Use a custom thumbnail image.

Design or use a high-quality still image from the video to entice a viewer to click on your video. Remember, this image needs to be legible by users on different devices, including mobile. If your image contains a person, make sure they’re looking into the camera. If you are featuring a product, make sure the background isn’t distracting.

4. Drive people to buy with cards.

A YouTube card is teased with a small “i” symbol, which the viewer can click to expand. You can time this appearance so only users who engaged with the video and content will see the notification.

With cards, you can feature a product related to or featured in the video to drive product purchases. You can also use cards to drive fundraising donations, traffic to a URL, or traffic to other videos as shown in the example below from our YouTube channel. Each format will allow you to customize the card with text, images, and other options.

5. Create calls-to-action.

When promoting a video on YouTube, you can include call-to-action overlays that link to a URL. You could link to a landing page, product page, information page, career page … whatever you’d like. You could also send people to a favorable report or interview featuring the brand.

6. Create a YouTube end slate.

Create an end screen to drive subscribers to your channel, promote your social networks, or increase interest in your brand. If someone has watched a video until the end, it’s a good sign they enjoy your content and might be interested in subscribing to your channel for future updates.

This end slate by HubSpot increases subscribers and social media fans while also highlighting other interesting topics its host has featured. Once you build the image, you will be able to annotate the end screen in YouTube’s video editor.

7. Use negative remarketing.

If you are running a campaign for a longer period of time and want to only attract new users to a brand, consider creating a list of people who your ad will not be shown to.

You can stretch your campaign budget and target only unique users by excluding those who have previously viewed the specific video, who have visited your YouTube channel, or who have shared, liked, or commented on any of your videos.

8. Use close captioning to cater to viewers’ needs and wants.

This tip applies to all YouTube videos — but it’s a general best practice that’s not followed by many brands. Include a quality video transcription you’ve generated and approved. Only user-uploaded transcriptions are indexed by Google because YouTube’s automatic captioning can be less than reliable. Depending on your target audience, you may also want to include transcriptions in various other languages. You can also offer users the option to download or visit a site page with the full transcription in your video description.

9. Qualify viewers.

Sometimes, your ad will be seen by people who have no interest in your product. Encourage them to skip the ad if the content isn’t relevant so you don’t have to pay for the view and they don’t waste their time watching irrelevant advertising.

10. Consider making your ad longer.

When it comes to TrueView ads, if the ad is under 30 seconds, you pay only if a viewer watches until the end. If the ad is longer than 30 seconds, you pay if the viewer watches it for at least 30 seconds. In both cases, you pay if the viewer interacts with your ad before it’s over. Consider this when you are coming up with ideas for content for the ad. You may want to put messaging at a certain point so uninterested viewers can skip the ad, or you might provide special offers towards the end of the video.

The Future of Video is Bright

Video content is a must-have part of your content strategy. This is even truer now that YouTube lets marketers target users based on their search histories. YouTube advertising is more targeted than ever, and it’s less competitive real estate than the world of Google Search because video content is newer to the content scene and less popular than blog posts.

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