Did you know that YouTube is the world’s second most popular search engine?
Over 1.5 billion users visit the website monthly to consume 1 billion hours of video — daily.
For digital brands, YouTube advertising has become the preeminent vehicle for driving traffic and brand awareness in today’s video-centric world.
Here’s how to leverage YouTube’s powerful audience targeting with TrueView for Action ads to drive your brand’s growth and performance.
Exposure to TrueView ads generate a +24% increase in user KPI performance, +30% increase in site visits, and +27% increase in branded searches. This is why TrueView for Action ads in particular are powerful for digital retail brands capitalizing on today’s growing video consumption.
-Laurielle Hofer, Agency Account Strategist at Google
This post is a recap of The Performance-Minded Marketer’s Guide to YouTube Ads webinar featuring experts from CPC Strategy and Google.
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You need to know who you are advertising to so that you don’t waste your precious ad spend.
YouTube offers targeting options similar to the ones available on the far-reaching Google Display Network.
You can target audiences based on:
- Interests & Habits
These three targeting categories span multiple audience types, as seen below.
Let’s look at which audiences are best suited for engaging the different parts of the YouTube advertising funnel.
Top funnel targeting: affinities and consumer patterns
If you are a new brand just starting out, then your priority is to generate awareness and demand while prospecting for customers with wide-reaching audiences.
Affinity audiences enable you to target audiences bucketed by their interests and Custom affinity audiences allow you to create highly tailored audiences in AdWords based on their most recent web activity.
Custom affinity audiences are especially helpful if you’re selling products that are super specific or niche. You can create audiences using keywords, URLs, places, and even apps.
–Dianne Manansala, Lead Retail Search Manager at CPC Strategy
Mid-funnel targeting: in-market, life events, and custom intent
In-market and life event targeting are more specific targeting for users that are likely further along the customer journey.
Customer intent audiences are particularly useful because you can show videos to people across YouTube based on their search behavior on Google’s search network. Serving videos to people that have displayed intent can be a powerful driver for conversions.
–Josh Brisco, Senior Manager, Retail Search Operations at CPC Strategy
Bottom funnel targeting: similar audiences, remarketing, and customer match
Similar audiences, remarketing lists (RLSA), and customer match are your highest performing audiences, but also the most narrow. Use these to focus campaigns on your highest-value audiences – website visitors, past purchasers, and anyone that has engaged with your brand in one way or another.
With similar audiences, you can find other groups of people similar to your best-performers, while remarketing lists and customer match allow you to hone in on your current and past customers.
Similar audiences are a powerful way to target users that resemble your best-performing audiences. By targeting users similar to your lowest funnel retargeting lists, you can be confident that these users are a better match to your target market.
-Ben Whitrock, Senior Retail Search Manager at CPC Strategy
Now that we’ve covered the full range of YouTube audience targeting, let’s look at YouTube’s premier ad suite for getting viewers to take action: TrueView for Action.
TrueView for Action drive leads and conversions by adding prominent CTAs (calls-to-action) and headline text overlays to your video ads.
“TrueView for Action allows for multiple direct call to actions to drive users to site and drive conversions,” says Josh. “It’s a more appealing option for ROI-focused retailers.”
Using this video campaign subtype, you can encourage customers to explore your product or service, share their contact information, and take other actions valuable to your business.
“Hence the name, advertisers only pay for true views of the ads,” explains Laurielle. “If users skip the ad, you don’t pay.”
The beginning of the ad is the most important. You have a small window to capture the user’s attention. Frontload your brand and the excitement at the very beginning.
TrueView for action ad capabilities
- Targeting Capabilities – Advertisers can layer in additional targeting options such as demographic or geographic filters. Most importantly, the opt-in nature of TrueView provides natural targeting. What this means is it eliminate the viewers who have already seen the ad or are not interested in the offer.
- Only Pay For Engagement – Advertisers will only pay when viewers choose to watch their ad—not by the impression. The auction-based system allows retailers to control their budget based on performance.
- Reporting Metrics – Advertisers can track their performance with AdWords reporting and YouTube Analytics so they know which of their ads is performing best.
- Integration with AdWords for Video – From quick account creation to detailed reporting, all the tools advertisers need to create and manage their video ads are now available in AdWords for Video.
Laurielle explains that because viewers can skip these ads, it’s important to capture their attention in the beginning.
Lifestyle watch brand Original Grain needed to drive strong Q4 growth to meet aggressive yearly revenue targets.
After partnering with CPC Strategy, our retail search managers were able to:
- Implement a full-funnel strategy that spanned multiple digital channels
- Leverage AdWords products as a new sales driver
- Increase brand awareness and recall with high-quality video and creative assets
Original Grain bet on AdWords’ ROI, expanding its bidding and buying budgets.
CPC Strategy used that investment to build highly-targeted Search and Shopping campaigns with Display remarketing ads to stay top of mind with stylish shoppers.
We then doubled-down on this branding with YouTube TrueView for Action ads, inspiring video watchers to explore the brand’s unique wood and steel watches by clicking on the ad.
Original Grain’s AdWords and YouTube advertising campaigns resulted in significant increases in CTR, lower CPCs, and an overall boost to conversion rates.
Which resulted in record-shattering performance for Original Grain.
AdWords and YouTube TrueView campaigns actually outperformed social media advertising, delivering Original Grain’s best quarter ever, with 37% YoY growth.
With nearly a 1% click-through rate and .43% conversion rate, Orginal Grain’s TrueView campaigns performed very high for YouTube in general.
Let’s walk through the blueprint for a YouTube campaign from a funnel perspective.
1. Identify campaign goal and type
You’ll first need to decide which ad unit is going to deliver on your campaign objective.
For this example, we are using TrueView for Action with target CPA for bidding strategy to generate leads and traffic.
Josh explains that in most cases, you’ll want to use TrueView for Action as your go-to because it is the most robust ad unit available on YouTube.
“Most advertisers will want to go with TrueView for Action, hands down. We are seeing the best results from this ad type from an engagement, conversion, and returns perspective.”
You’ll want to set up your campaign goal as leads or traffic, and because we are using target CPA we are optimizing against conversions — which can be anything from an email signup to a completed checkout.
2. Set up your targeting at the campaign and ad group levels
The next step is to align your targeting methods with your campaign goals.
“At the campaign level you want to align your top targeting method and then split out your campaigns by affinity, remarketing, in-market and custom-intent audiences,” explains Josh.
“Then at the ad group level, you break out your targeting at a more granular level. For example, in-market audience 1, in-market audience 2, and so on.”
For example, at the ad group level, you’ll break out targeting by product type with more aggressive bids for lower funnel audiences whereas campaign level segments are less aggressive and more broad.
“Say you’re an apparel retailer,” Josh explains. “A granular structure at the ad-group level would include in-market for women’s apparel, in-market for men’s apparel, and so on. You can break these ad-group level audiences out by product type or gender.”
You want to set higher bids on audiences that have the most purchase intent — such as audiences that have spent the most time on site or past purchasers.
It’s always best to cover the entire funnel, however, performance-focused marketers may decide to focus on the mid to bottom funnel alone.
3. Creative Best Practices
A lot of retailers and advertisers may not have creative in place for video advertising.
“If you are just getting started and have only a select few brand-oriented videos, then we encourage you to use a controlled testing approach,” says Josh.
“This means using the same sets of creative for different ad groups. This allows you to evaluate which creatives are performing well against individual audiences.”
You don’t need to have a ton of creative assets for this either. So don’t feel like you need an entire suite of videos for a controlled creative approach.
“If you do have more creative at your disposal, it’s recommended to match your creative with your specific audiences whenever possible,” says Josh.
“You want to match your product or gender-specific ad campaigns with the appropriate creative, i.e., your custom intent audiences for women’s apparel should show creative that highlights your women’s product line.”
Another benefit of using YouTube TrueView for Action ads is that you can test out different variations of CTAs to evaluate which drives the most performance.
Once you’ve built out your YouTube advertising campaign structure, you are then ready to implement and test your targeting, ad groups, and creative.
Laurielle explains that with YouTube ads, you have the unique opportunity to reach a highly engaged audience. Activating that audience to drive results means that you need to know what they want in the first place.
In terms of capturing attention, YouTube is an excellent platform. It’s not just about the amount of time spent on YouTube. It’s about knowing what the user wants, and what they’ll find the most useful in a given moment.
Want to learn more about how YouTube ads can drive marketing performance for your brand?
Check out the full recording of The Performance-Minded Marketer’s Guide to YouTube Ads webinar featuring experts from CPC Strategy and Google.