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How not to drain the budget on YouTube

 How not to drain the budget on YouTube

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Video ads on YouTube help with a variety of tasks: from increasing reach to increasing the number of conversions. However, there is always a danger of investing a considerable budget and spending it inefficiently. Here are the main points to keep in mind when launching a YouTube campaign.

The right setting of goals and objectives is the starting point of any campaign. It is this that will influence the decisions made in the future and the final result. Existing video ad formats, as well as strategies for optimization, can be reduced to solving three marketing problems: reach, engagement, and conversions.

  • Choosing the right format
  • Choosing the right targeting
  • Setting up exclusion targeting
  • Removing redundant and optimizing
  • Creativity solves everything... or almost everything
  • Setting up analytics and linking accounts

Choosing the right format

The correct video format is almost half the success. Of course, when choosing, we start from the goals of the campaign.

For coverage:
  • TrueView for Reach is suitable for getting wide coverage at minimum cost. Such ads are purchased according to the CPM model, that is, the cost is set for 1000 impressions. The best solution would be to combine such videos with 6-second splash ads. For example, if a user is interested in the first video in TrueView format and did not skip the ad, then the next time you can show him a 6-second non-skippable video to fix it.
  • Bumper ads - those same 6-second videos. Of the advantages, one can note their low cost (payment for 1000 impressions), as well as the fact that they are not skipped. Splash ads are great for both increasing the frequency and reach of a campaign and for remarketing.
  • Outstream allows you to show videos on partner sites Google Video Partners and is used only for advertising on mobile devices. When the video banner appears in the visible part of the screen, the video starts playing without sound. If the user clicks on the video, then the sound will be turned on. The payment model is viewable CPM. The conditions are as follows: the user must view at least 2 consecutive seconds and 50% of the pixels of the video on the screen.
  • Reserve Video Ads - a video up to 20 seconds long without a "Skip" button. This format will provide maximum visibility. This format is purchased through Google representatives at a fixed price.
  • Masthead - Posting a video on the YouTube home page for 24 hours. There is no ability to set targeting here, but you can limit the number of views per user, for example, no more than two video impressions.
  • True View In-Stream. Videos are shown in YouTube videos, as well as on websites and applications in the Display Network. Viewers can skip the video five seconds after it starts. You will only be charged for showing ads if the user has watched or interacted with the ad for 30 seconds (or the entire video if shorter).
  • The KPI will be the average frequency per person and the number of people covered. These are measured in Unique Reach reports.
To get involved:
  • TrueView and Bumpers for Shopping are complemented by dynamic product cards. They appear in the companion banner and inside the video in the mobile app. Card products are downloaded from the Google Merchant Center. For example, you can show the user cards with products from the shopping cart or cards with products viewed on the site.
  • TrueView Discovery is a video banner in search, in the list of recommended videos and on the main page of YouTube. The advantage of this format is that the banner is shown to the target audience at those moments when they are looking for information. That is, the answer to her request will be as relevant as possible. TrueView Discovery is also suitable for advertising and channel promotion.
  • The Brand Lift 2.0 Research - TrueView Maximize Lift Strategy link will help you measure and optimize these campaigns.
For conversions:
  • TrueView for Action is a format that maximizes CTR through the use of call-to-action buttons, as well as the ability to track post-impression conversions. Great if you need to redirect the user to the site to place an order, fill out an application, or other targeted action.
  • Universal App Campaigns is used to promote mobile apps on YouTube and other Google platforms. Advertising is automatically created from the specified text and multimedia resources. Google also manages bidding and targeting to maximize campaign results given your goal and budget. We have a separate article on how to use universal campaigns.
  • TrueView and Bumpers for Shopping are also great for conversions.
  • The most convenient way to measure the result will be using the Google Ads Conversion Tracking tool. And as KPI, the cost per conversion and their number are set.

Choosing the right targeting

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Traditional demographic targeting doesn't work as well as it used to. To arouse interest among users, you need to consider what exactly they are looking for and in what context, at what stage of intention and action they are. The choice of necessary targeting directly depends on the goals of the campaign.

If you want to increase ad recall rates as well as brand awareness, then you can look at extended demographics. Targeting by marital status, age of children, education, homeownership status will be suitable for appealing to a wider audience. As an example: the lifestyle of parents with a child aged 1-2 years and the lifestyle of parents with a child of 7 years will be radically different.

Targeting by interests and habits can help with the task of considering and preferring a brand. The audience by interests (Affinity) is collected based on user search queries, videos watched, sites visited and offline locations. Custom Affinity - Audiences generated by algorithms based on advertiser-specified keywords, page URLs, places visited, or categories of apps installed. The Google algorithm searches for users who regularly perform certain actions: they buy at certain stores, often go to the cinema, restaurants or beauty salons, attend concerts and other events.

To get conversions, pay attention to the following targeting:

  • Important life events (Life Events). Algorithms are able to collect users who are currently experiencing some important moment in their lives: graduation from the university, wedding, moving, renovation, job change, starting their own business, retirement, and so on;
  • Interested buyers (In-market Audience) are users who are looking for a specific product, read reviews and reviews on it, compare prices and features. For online stores, this is one of the most relevant targeting;
  • special intent audiences (Custom Intent) - targeting based on user requests in Search;
  • remarketing covers those users who have already visited the company's website or channel on YouTube, watched videos and clicked on banners;
  • Customer Match - targeting based on customer data from the CRM system. To search for an audience, email, phone or address are used. Works great when paired with Similar Audience targeting.

Setting up exclusion targeting

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Many advertisers on YouTube face the following problem. Targeting is set to an audience of 25-35 years old, but children's channels pop up among the placements of video ads. This is a fairly typical situation, as parents include cartoons, fairy tales and similar videos for their children from their accounts. As a result, part of the advertising budget is wasted.

How can this be avoided:
  1. Exclusion of specific placements. To do this, you will need to assemble it yourself or find a ready-made list of children's channels.
  2. Adding negative keywords. This method does not 100% guarantee that your ad will not be included in a child-themed video, since Google only accepts words, not phrases. However, it is still worth writing them down. You can start with the most obvious: “cartoons”, “cartoons”, “children”, “educational”, “pig”, “peppa” and so on. Next, you can analyze popular cartoons for children and complete the list.
  3. Topic exclusion. In the Arts & Entertainment category, you can exclude the topic "cartoons". You can also add topics such as "children's literature", "drawing and coloring", "toys for children of primary preschool age" and so on to the black-list. You need to be careful with limiting topics, as a large list of exclusions can significantly narrow your reach and increase your CPV.
After running your campaign, open the placement report and take a close look at your placements. Perhaps among them there are still those who attract inappropriate traffic. In this case, check the boxes for irrelevant videos and click "Edit" - "Exclude from campaign".

Music channels, along with children's content, can also contribute to

Music channels, along with children's content, can also help drain the budget. Viewers of such channels rarely perform any targeted actions and simply do not pay attention to advertising, since they went to the channel to listen to music. If you find a large number of music videos among placements, it may be best to exclude them from your campaign.

Another important point is brand safety. No company wants their product video to be placed in an unfavorable context. Brand safety is reputational security and protection of the company's brand and its advertising materials from an unfavorable information environment. By default, when creating a campaign on YouTube, the standard content exclusion filter is enabled (videos with scenes of cruelty, violence, strong profanity, and so on). However, you can set up exceptions yourself. Read more here.

Removing redundant and optimizing

Deciding which placements and channels to keep and which to leave out depends on the initial goals. Among the main metrics that you should always pay attention to are conversions and the level of screenings. If both indicators are low, then the channel can definitely be excluded. In the issue of channel topics and targeting, not everything is clear. Often, targeting is set to the portrait of the user. The system does not care what subject the video or channel the user is currently viewing. That is, the commercial and the video being watched may not coincide at all. The main thing is that the user matches our interests, which we have set as targeting. If the targeting still shows poor performance, then it is excluded.

Campaign optimization methods also depend on the goals. Here are the top steps you can take to increase your reach, user engagement, or conversions.

To increase your reach, double-check your formats. Non-skippable videos with a pay-per-1000 impression model would be the most suitable: 6-second splash ads and 20-second videos. And do not forget about the Outstream format, which operates on Google Video Partners sites. Expanding your audience will help posting not only on YouTube, but also on the entire Google Display Network. You can add affiliate video resources for additional reach in your Google Ads settings. To display, select all devices, and also check the number of impressions per user. The optimal number will be up to 6 impressions per week. If your CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) is very high, expand your targeting to get better metrics.

To optimize for conversions, the first step is to set up Google Ads Conversion Tracking. This is a free tool that can attribute conversions to all types of user interactions with a video: impressions, views, and clicks. Another plus is cross-device. This means that if a user first watched the video on their phone but didn't convert, and then made a purchase on a different device, GACT will match this and count it as one conversion.

An important detail that will help with optimization is tracking microconversions. Users are not always ready to make a purchase in one day. For example, choosing a car can take several months. In this case, micro-conversions (registration, site page depth, checkout start, etc.) not only track the effectiveness of the campaign, but also to better set up the automatic bidding algorithm. Thanks to micro-conversions, he is able to optimize the campaign more effectively.


What else can you do to optimize your conversion campaign:

  • Use Custom Intent Audiences. In this case, the videos will be shown to those users who searched for the relevant products in Google Search.
  • Remarketing. Target ads to people who have visited specific pages on your site.
  • Focus on the TrueView for Action format. You can choose to bid with a target cost per conversion (tCPA) or a "max conversions" strategy that uses machine learning to optimize your auction bids.
  • To get enough conversions, your daily budget must be at least 20x your tCPA bid.
When it comes to optimizing for user engagement, the automatic Maximize Lift strategy works great here. She places bets based on data collected by the Brand Lift 2.0 study. The study provides information about the level of awareness of advertising, the degree of knowledge of the brand or product, the consideration or preference for the brand, product, the intention to make a purchase. Further, as part of the Maximize Lift strategy, based on users who answered positively to the question about the presence of brand preferences, look-alike audiences are collected to whom the videos are shown. The advantage of Brand Lift 2.0 and Maximize Lift working together is not only that they increase user engagement rates, but also have a positive effect on the number of conversions.

Creativity solves everything... or almost everything

You can choose the right formats, use different targeting settings, set up excellent optimization, but without a high-quality creative, an advertising campaign cannot be successful. According to various sources, the return on investment in advertising will depend on the creative by 50-80%.

The standard opening-climax-denouement scenario won't work effectively with YouTube. The choice of building a video is made based on the goals of the campaign. So, to introduce the audience to a new product or service, you can use the “explain” scenario. Users describe the problem situation, present the product as a solution, and explain the benefits of using it. At the end, such a video necessarily contains a call to action and can be supplemented with a profitable offer or additional arguments. Another scenario is the "product demo". Here, the need and benefits of the product are already obvious in advance, so it appears in the video right away. What follows is a description of its benefits and a call to action. The shortest scenario is "offer". It is suitable for those cases when the audience is already familiar with the brand and its products. This type of video is used to notify about promotions, discounts or other great offers.

Any creative will lose its novelty over time, so consider in advance how you will update it. If you're aiming for conversions, then True View for Action campaigns have an advantage: their audience is constantly updated. Google algorithms complement it with new users who search for brand keywords in Search.

General tips for creating a creative:

  • Grab attention in the first 5 seconds. When choosing the True View format, you need to remember that the viewer can turn off the ad after 5 seconds of viewing. How to prevent this? Profitable offers, an unexpected beginning of a video, or an immediate demonstration of a problem are used. There are several other ways to "hook" the user. A video is more likely to be watched if opinion leaders – bloggers or other media personalities – participate in it. Video ads with humor or intrigue are also popular. This option is not suitable for every goal and not for every brand, but in some cases, such videos work great to increase awareness. Don't forget to add audio as well. The combination of sound and video increases the response to advertising (Ad Recall) by 43%.
  • Direct call to action. After watching the video, the user should clearly understand what needs to be done: for example, download an application or go to a website. Don't be afraid to say it in the video. On YouTube, such reminders look quite natural. The call can be issued not only in the form of a voice-over in the video, but also in the format of tips, overlays or end screens.
  • Orientation to the mobile format. Most users today watch YouTube from mobile devices. That is why pay attention to the following things:
    1. the text in the video must be legible;
    2. the video itself must be bright so that it looks good even on dim screens;
    3. key objects are best shown close-up.
Compliance with zoning rules. Google came up with a small layout of text and graphics in the frame so that they do not overlap with other interface elements.

Setting up analytics and linking accounts

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By linking your YouTube channel to your Google Ads account, you'll be able to track all video ad activity, add YouTube viewers to remarketing lists, and get better statistics. How to do it:
  • Go to your YouTube channel.
  • Select the Creative Studio icon.
  • In the menu on the left, click "Settings" and then "Channel", "Advanced".
  •   Click Link Accounts and enter your Google Ads Client ID.
Linking your Google Ads accounts to Google Analytics will help you analyze user behavior on your site. For example, track conversions to the site after viewing a video ad or clicking on it. To link two accounts, sign in to Google Ads, in the Settings section, click Linked Accounts. Select Google Analytics and click "Details"

A table will appear listing the Google Analytics resources available to us. In it we find the one we need and click "Connect".

Using Google Ads Conversion Tracking will help you understand how effectively video ad clicks lead to customer activity on your website (for example, a purchase, registration, or form submission). In addition, you will be able to track microconversions, reports on which will help you further optimize your campaign. Setting up conversions consists of 2 stages: working in a Google Ads account and setting up a tracking tag on the site. Detailed instructions from Google can be found here.

The variety of YouTube ad formats, as well as the tools to measure ad effectiveness, have made video one of the leading channels of user engagement. Through video, we can increase conversions, engage viewers, and encourage and sustain interactions with them throughout the purchase journey. The main thing is to choose the right formats and strategies, quickly track statistics and make timely changes to the campaign.

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