With 78.8% of marketers considering YouTube as the most effective platform for video marketing, there’s no doubt that it should be a part of your advertising strategy. But because it’s a video platform, creating ads for YouTube isn’t like creating ads for other social platforms. And it does get a bit intimidating when you’re just getting started.

In this post, we provide you with an in-depth look at YouTube ad campaigns so you can learn how to create one of your own. Let’s dive in.

Benefits of YouTube advertising

Why create YouTube ad campaigns in the first place? What makes them so critical for marketers and how can they benefit your business? Here’s a quick look at the top reasons why you should start advertising on YouTube:

1. Expand your reach

With YouTube having 2 billion unique users every month, it’s the perfect platform to reach a massive audience. Among these billions of users, there’s a good chance that some of them will show some interest in your offering after seeing your ad.

2. Use advanced targeting to reach the right people

YouTube allows you to create targeted ad campaigns based on category, keyword and topic. This significantly improves your chances of reaching people whose interests align with your industry, instead of just relying on demographic-based targeting.

3. Run cost-effective ads

Just because you’re displaying your ad to someone doesn’t mean you’re paying for that ad to appear if they instantly skip it as soon as they have the chance. Certain YouTube ad types such as TrueView ads have a cost advantage in that you only pay when someone engages with your ad or views it for a certain duration. More on TrueView ads later in this article.

4. Visually engage your target audience

Visuals allow you to instantly capture your audience’s attention, increasing your chances of engaging them. And running a video ad on YouTube gives you the opportunity to visually engage your target audience. In fact, videos are among the top-performing types of visual content along with infographics and presentations.

videos are on of the top-performing visual content formats

5. Get in-depth ad analytics

YouTube comes with advanced analytics that helps you understand how your ads are performing. Get insights into how long someone watches your ad, when they disengage and which ad formats see the best performance. These insights will help you perfect your YouTube ad campaigns for optimal performance.

Different types of YouTube ads

Before you start running a YouTube ad campaign, it’s crucial you understand the different types of ads you can run. This will help you choose the one that’s best for your brand based on your unique goals. Although you can run display ads and sponsored card ads as well, let’s focus on the different types of YouTube video ads.

1. Bumper ads

Bumper ads are non-skippable ads that play right before a viewer’s chosen video. They run for just six seconds, making them the shortest type of YouTube ads. This is obviously not enough time to really get your message across, which makes bumper ads ideal for larger advertising campaigns alongside other ad formats.

2. Non-skippable in-stream ads

As the name suggests, these are non-skippable ads that play before, during or after the chosen video. They typically run for 15 to 20 seconds, giving you more freedom to get your message across. Here’s an example of a non-skippable in-stream ad from Honey.

nonskippable youtube ad campaign from honey

3. TrueView ads

TrueView ads are the most popular types of YouTube video ads, mainly because advertisers only pay when viewers engage with the ad. There are two types of TrueView adsTrueView in-stream ads and TrueView video discovery.

In-stream ads play before or during a viewer’s chosen video and will give them an option to skip the ad after five seconds. You only pay if someone watches at least 30 seconds of the ad. As for video discovery ads, viewers will see your video ad alongside other YouTube videos. And you only pay if someone clicks on the video to watch it.

How to run a YouTube ad campaign

Now that you understand the basics, let’s find out how to run a YouTube ad campaign for the first time.

Step 1. Upload your advertising video on YouTube

You’ll have the option to upload your advertising video while creating your campaign. But it’s best if you already have it uploaded to save time and quickly go through the campaign creation process. For this, click on the video camera icon on the right corner of the screen and choose “Upload video.”

video upload button on youtube

Then select the file you want to upload and fill out the essential info such as title, description and tags.

Step 2. Create a new Google Ads campaign

Next, go to your Google Ads account and start creating a new campaign. The initial step requires that you select a goal for your campaign, though you also have the option to create one without a goal’s guidance as well.

You can shoot for product and brand consideration, app promotion, or brand awareness and reach. Choose the goal that fits your needs best, but for this example, we’ll create a campaign without using a goal’s guidance.

google and youtube ad campaign goal options

From the list of campaign types, select “Video” and click on “Continue.”

google and youtube ad campaign types with video selected

This will then give you the option to select your campaign subtype. It’s best if you choose “Custom video campaign” so you can better customize it to your needs.

google and youtube ad campaign subtypes

Step 3. Customize your campaign

The next step is to customize your campaign by giving it a name, setting your budget, choosing your networks and more. Start by naming your campaign under “Campaign name” then select your bidding strategy.

google and youtube ad customization page with campaign name and bidding strategy fields

Then set a budget for your campaign. How much are you willing to spend on this? If you’re just starting out, you might want to experiment with a small budget and see how that goes. After that, select the time period for your campaign.

youtube ad customization page with budget and timeline fields

You also have the option to choose which networks you want your ad to appear in. When creating a video ad, you’ll have three options: YouTube search results, YouTube videos, and video partners on the Display Network. And you can choose more than one option.

YouTube search results, as the name suggests, will appear next to search results on the platform. If you choose this option, you can only run TrueView discovery ads.

When you select YouTube videos, your ads can appear not just on YouTube videos but also on the YouTube homepage and relevant channel pages. This will allow you to use both in-stream and video discovery ads.

If you select the video partner option, YouTube will also display your ads across the other advertising avenues on Google.

choices of networks for video ads for youtube ad campaigns

After this, you’ll also have the option to customize other aspects of your campaign such as location, language and inventory type. Select the options that fit your campaign needs best.

Step 4. Choose your target audience

This next step is crucial because it will determine the effectiveness of your YouTube ad campaign and the return on your ad spend. Select the demographic you want to target and the audiences you want to display your ad to. Here, you’ll also have the option to create a custom audience so make sure you test that option if you don’t already have a custom audience in place.

target audience and demographic options for youtube video ads

Step 5. Choose your target keywords and topics

Another crucial step is choosing the keywords and topics related to your product, industry or ad. This will allow you to determine what types of content you want your ad to show up on. Even if you run out of keyword ideas, you can always enter a related website or your product/service information to get recommendations.

keyword field for youtube video ads

As for the topic, you can scroll through all the given options or enter a word, phrase or URL to find related topics.

topic choices for youtube video ads

Step 6. Select your ideal ad placement

Next, choose which placements you want to target. This allows you to be more specific with where you want your ad to appear. If you don’t select any placement option, Google will show your ad on any YouTube or Display Network placements matching your other targeting choices.

ad placement choices for youtube video ads

Step 7. Choose your advertising video

The next step is to choose which video you want to use as your ad. You can either search for the video using a keyword or paste the video URL. On the right pane, you’ll have the option to upload your video if you don’t have it on YouTube yet. But remember, we already uploaded a video ad in Step 1, so search or paste that video’s URL here.

youtube advertising video selection window

Step 8. Customize your YouTube video ad

Once you select the video you want to use, you can customize it as needed. First, select the ad format you want to use and this will give you a preview of how your ad will appear on mobile and desktop.

If you choose to run a video discovery ad, you’ll have the option to choose between multiple thumbnails, so make sure you select something that will immediately capture the audience’s attention.

youtube video ad customization options


If you choose to run a skippable in-stream ad, make sure you include the destination URL for viewers who click on your ad. And don’t forget to add a call-to-action, as this will give people an even better reason to interact with the ad.

Additionally, you’ll also have the option to upload a companion banner image or leave it to Google to autogenerate one from your channel.

Click on “Create campaign” to complete the process.

Win at YouTube advertising

These basics will help you get started with your very first YouTube ad campaign. Make sure to learn the best practices and social media advertising strategies so you can create ads that deliver results. And don’t forget to check out our video specs guide to create a compelling YouTube video ad that meets the platform’s specifications.

Use our free social media marketing toolkit for an even more comprehensive guide on mastering your advertising campaigns.