The first few sections of the YouTube Advertiser Playbook play out like a mini-Creator Playbook.  In the section named, “Promoting Your Business,” the Advertiser Playbook talks a great deal about AdWords for Video and getting your videos and ad campaign seen by inserting them into the related videos column or showing up on the search page when people are looking for content a lot like yours.  When you start off as a small business, people won’t be looking for your specific business right away, but they might be looking for content that is similar to what you put out, and that’s where AdWords for Video comes in.

And if you’re really going for some exposure, AdWords for Video allows you to play before, during, or after certain videos like a traditional ad.  And you don’t have to pay unless the ad is watched.  It’s a pretty flexible system, and it works for a lot of businesses.  So let’s take a look at what YouTube does with AdWords for Video, shall we?

AdWords for Video: Ad Campaigns for Your Business

YouTube gets right into the pitch with the company Ceilume.  Ceilume’s channel has close to 20 videos and a little over a million views.  This is their most popular video, about whether you can afford coffered ceilings or not:

Ceilume is a ceiling tile company that’s been around for more than 60 years and started AdWords for Video back in 2006.  Ed Davis, President of Ceilume, gives this testimonial:

YouTube generates 5 percent of our sales and 40 percent of our impressions.  At the same time, YouTube consumes only 7 to 8 percent of our marketing budget.

Ceilume has tapped into one of the most popular genres on YouTube.  No, not ceiling tiles per se, but the “how-to” genre.  People don’t always go to YouTube for entertainment purposes, they want how to do something or get information on something.  So if you have a business and want to promote it the right way, making content with a “how-to” is a good start.  We talked about all the different kinds of creative strategies in the first section of the Playbook, I think a how-to might be the most effective.

How AdWords for Video Works

After you’ve set a budget for your ad campaign, and created your ad, what AdWords for Video does is position the video where people are already searching, or looking for, related content.  It ensures that you get a place in search, although it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be seen.  So, as always, great content is king, informative content that people are looking for is absolutely required in order to get people to click on your video.

The Cost of AdWords for Video

YouTube gives you quite a bit of control here.  You only pay when someone actually clicks on the ad and watches it, and you can actually decide how much each view is worth.  And you don’t have to do it for a set amount of time, you can always stop the ads whenever you want.  I would suppose this would come in when you aren’t reaching your goals with AdWords and you need to start over, or your video is so popular it doesn’t need a jumpstart anymore.  If people are actively looking for your video, no need to get AdWords to push it anymore.  That’s the best case scenario.

AdWords Goals

The goals of AdWords are:

  • Reach: Goes without saying, you’re trying to find as many eyeballs as possible.
  • Sales: According to a McKinsey & Co. study YouTube cites, 9 out of 10 people can be enticed to watch video ads.  You can use YouTube’s analytics to figure out if you’re reaching the right people or need to make adjustment.
  • Increase in Views: One of the most controversial parts of YouTube is the view count, where videos can garner views by being a pre-roll advertisement, or from paid promotion, and not actual engagement.  Although I think YouTube has tweaked what a view actually means and they’re looking for actual engagement with their view counts, the idea of “paid views” is still a sore point for some.  In the end, you hope the views are quality and increase your business.

How To Use AdWords for Video: Straight From the Advertiser Playbook

Log In to Your Google AdWords Account

Here’s how you access your account:

1. Go to

2. Sign in with a Google account, the one you use to manage your YouTube account.

3. Choose time zone

4. Choose currency (you can’t change this once it’s selected, so choose wisely)

5. Click continue

6. Click Sign in to Your AdWords Account

Link Your Accounts and Create A New Video Campaign

Linking your YouTube account with AdWords makes it easier to choose what videos go into the campaign, gives you detailed view/usage statistics, and allows you to create “Calls-to-Action” overlays, which we’ll get into later.

1. Click Linked YouTube Accounts, then click + Link YouTube Account

2. Select All video campaigns and click + New Video Campaign

Select Locations & Languages

1. Set your locations allows you to pinpoint where your audience is.  If you’re a bed and breakfast, you need to know where visitors to your state/town come from, and target those areas.  You might just be trying to figure out who is interested and you might throw a wide net at first.  Then, if you see a great amount of interest from certain “hotspots” then you can start targeting those areas specifically.  So this is a really cool feature: being able to get your ad to a certain geographical location narrows down where your ad gets played, and hopefully to the target audience.

2. Choose your languages.  Also a big important part of YouTube: you can reach people who speak different languages.  Maybe you have a high percentage of Hispanics who buy your product.  Make sure your target audience can understand the video.  I can tell you right now, Spanish should be an almost automatic selection at this point.

Choose a Video to Display in Your Ad

This is really easy if you have the channel and AdWords account linked, because then you just click “Select video” the video titles are displayed and easy to pick from.  But if the accounts aren’t linked, you can still search for the videos by channel name, keyword, or video URL.

Choose Your Ad Formats & Networks

YouTube has four different kinds of ad formats, which YouTube calls TrueView, because it only charges you when the ad is watched.  You can use all 4 of them across all 3 networks (YouTube Search, YouTube Videos, and Google Display Network) by simply clicking Automatic.

The 4 ad formats are:

  • TrueView In-search: Viewer sees the ad above or next to YouTube search results when those viewers are looking for related content.  You only pay when someone clicks to watch your video.
  • TrueView In-display: Viewers can click the display ad to watch the video in the ad or on a YouTube watch/channel page.
  • TrueView In-stream: Ads play pre-, mid-, or post-roll on YouTube Partner videos of all lengths.  Viewers can skip the ad after 5 seconds, and you only pay if someone watches 30 seconds of the ad or if the completion of the ad is under 30 seconds.
  • TrueView In-slate: Ads play before long-form Partner videos longer than 10 minutes, and the viewer can choose 1 of 3 ads before the video or choose to watch them in regular commercial breaks.

Ads appear in:

  • YouTube Search: YouTube search results
  • YouTube Videos: Clips on Watch/Channel pages
  • Google Display Network: Tens of thousands of websites partnered with Google, YouTube, and other Google properties to display ads

Here’s a video explaining how it works:

Write Your Ad and Choose An Image

This is where you hopefully entice people to click on your video by writing good descriptions, choosing a sweet thumbnail from the 4 randomly-generated ones, and giving information where people can learn more.

1. Write a Headline and Description

The Advertiser Playbook lays out these 6 tips for writing headlines and descriptions:

  • Think about your customers: use the words “you” and “your” to grab attention.
  • Include call-to-action words like “watch,” “learn,” and “discover.”
  • Tell your audience exactly what they’ll see in your video.  Be direct and compelling.
  • Highlight any special offers or features mentioned in the video.
  • Link your ad to customized videos that match the information in your ad text
  • Test multiple videos, formats, and text to get better insight into what ads perform best for you.

2. Choose 1 of the 4 thumbnail images

3. Set your Display URL: this is the web address your viewers will see in certain formats.  They recommend using your business’ website.

4. Set your Destination URL: this is the web address your viewers will visit when they click on the video.  Once again, this should be the business’ website or a subpage of the website.

5. Name the ad something meaningful to you (for your reference only and not visible to others).

6. Save and continue.

Name Your Targeting Group and Set Your Bid

1. Name your targeting group in the text field.  This won’t be visible to others.  What you’re doing here is entering your demographics–Men 18 to 34 or something of that nature.

2. Set Maximum Cost-Per-View (CPV) for targeting group.  This is how much you’re willing to pay per view when someone from your targeting group watches the video.  You can decide how much/little these views cost by setting the max CPV, and you can change it anytime.

3. Choose Basic or Advanced bidding.  Basic bidding applies the same bid across all 4 ad formats.  YouTube recommends this feature if you’re new to video advertising.  The advanced bidding will allow you to customize over the 4 ad formats.

Define Your Targeting Group

If you’re not exactly sure the group your targeting, you can type in some keywords and YouTube will search for the demographics for you.

1. Set your targeting options for YouTube Search, YouTube Videos, and Google Display Network.  With Search for targeting suggestions you can fill in keywords and topics that will give those networks a better idea of who you’re looking for.

YouTube says that you can add almost anything for YouTube Search that you think your audience might look for, but on the Google Display Network, it’s best to keep it as relevant as possible.  In general, I believe, it’s better to keep things relevant.

2. You also have the ability to define negative targets if you want to.  If you don’t want your ad associated with certain words, usually ones that aren’t specific to your video, you’ll want to zone those out.  The example provided in the Playbook mentions “kitchen design.”  If you do kitchen design and don’t want to be associated with any other room in the house, you can exclude those terms from being in any way relevant to your video.

3. Save and enable targeting.

Set Up Your Billing

The ads won’t appear until you square away the billing:

1. Enter the contact information for whatever business/entity is paying for AdWords.

2. Make your billing selections and enter the information.  Click continue.

3. Agree to AdWords terms and conditions.

4. Submit and activate.

Call-to-Action Overlay

As mentioned above, there are things called call-to-action overlays.  These are optional, and you’ve probably seen a million of them if you’ve ever watched anything on YouTube.  These are windows that show up at the bottom of a video and can link to a website, channel, and so forth. And they are probably hammered like Whack-A-Moles most of the time, but it doesn’t hurt to have them.

1. Go to your AdWords Account.

2. Click campaign.

3. Choose a video from the videos tab.

4. Click Add call-to-action overlay below your video and enter headline, description, and display/destination URLs.

These overlays will remain active in your TrueView in-search and in-display videos during the campaign and are not a permanent feature of your video.


So that’s the slightly-edited step-by-step of the Advertiser Playbook’s “Jumpstart” section of Promoting Your Business.  AdWords for Video can really get you out there, seen by a number of people you wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach.  I think that’s exactly what AdWords should be used for.  Racking up a view count may look pretty, but you’re looking for engagement.  You’re looking for people who want to know more and who want to buy your product.  An inflated view count is nothing if it doesn’t actually get people interested.

AdWords for Video is a tool.  It’s something that gets you eyeballs, and it allows you to target the right eyeballs.  And YouTube has so many analytics, you can see where you’re succeeding and failing, and make changes based on what those statistics tell you.  In the end, it’s all about content.  Make something informative, entertaining, or distinctive so you’re not wasting the push that you’re getting from AdWords.  That’s the whole point: use AdWords as a push for great content.