How to Use YouTube for Performance


Google has been working significantly over the last years to turn YouTube into a platform for conversions. YouTube has been traditionally overlooked by performance marketers as a less suitable tool for their goals.


The truth is that it used to be very hard to track direct ROI form YouTube ads and to attribute conversions to a video watch. Now technology is changing and YouTube is turning gradually into a more performance driven platform.


Why you should consider YouTube?


  • The average time spent on YouTube for people between 18-45 has grown 35%
  • Over 60% of the sessions on YouTube are on mobile and an average session on mobile lasts 40 minutes.
  • YouTube videos are significantly related to purchasing behaviour. It is not only cute cats that people watch, but also they use video content to find out about all kinds of products – from food, to vacations, to cars and services. The wide spectrum of content available on the platform is astonishing
  • There are 5 billion YouTube videos watched on average daily.
  • As of July 2015, more than 400 hours of video were uploaded to YouTube every minute, up from 300 hours per minute in November 2014.

How can marketers use YouTube for performance?


One of the best products for marketers on YouTube is the TrueView In-Stream ad.  This is the skippable format which can appear before, in the middle or after a video. The advertiser is charged only when a user decides not to skip the ad.  They must watch more than 30 seconds or interact with the video by clicking, liking, commenting or sharing – whichever comes first. This shows a strong interest in the content and only then you must pay.


Another great feature of this format is the opportunity to create remarketing lists from the users who have already clicked on the ad. In this way you can create a real journey for your prospect by showing them a different creative in every remarketing list.


You can add a call to action button overlay on your video which would encourage the user to convert. The call to action must be very clear and understandable. A click on the call to action can lead the user either to a landing page or to the channel itself. An ad can be used to either grow a channel, or for any other type of conversion iike a sale, sign up, app install.


You can finally enhance the experience by creating cards which lead the user to a next video they can watch. You can see a creative example of Lego who did a scenario type of ad. The story has three possible ends and you can choose which one is the “right” one by watching the next video. This increases engagement which the brand, time spend on the channel, but not the cost of the ad.





Targeting options on YouTube are much more sophisticated than what is available on the other placements on the Google Display Network. You can use customer email lists, cookie based remarketing lists, interest and demography targeting.


One of the most interesting types of targeting is Custom Intent. This is basically keyword targeting. You can use contextual keywords, as well as Google search keywords. The second option gives you the opportunity to appear in front of people who have previously searched on Google for the keyword you are bidding on.



Define the campaign objective


For every campaign objective there is a YouTube solution you can use to reach prospects in every stage of the funnel.




The homepage of YouTube has a prominent large placement on top. The ad you see there is called Masthead. Usually the space is occupied by a large company, often it shows ads for Google itself. To get this placement you will have to contact a Google representative and pay a packaged fee for a certain period of time during which you would like your ad to be shown there.


A great option for an awareness campaign is an ad type called Bumper ad. This is a 5 second pre-roll ad which is not skippable and appears before a video plays. These ads can be set up directly through Google AdWords, no need to deal with a sales rep of Google. You only need to upload your 5 second video on YouTube as a “Public” and create a campaign on Google AdWords.




At this stage, you can use the two True View formats – the In-Stream which I mentioned above, as well as the Discovery ad. The last one is a type of ad which can appear in the search results of YouTube, partner websites and YouTube watch pages. It encourages users to watch the content as it looks like an organic video. You are only charged when someone clicks on the ad and watches the content.


At this stage remarketing and Google keywords is a great way to engage with an audience which you know is likely to consider your product. You can create a list of competitors names and target people who have recently searched for these brands. If you add also a remarketing list as an extra filter, i.e. you set the condition: they have been on my website and they are looking for competitors on Google, you get a very relevant audience. They are likely to have a strong buying intention and you seem to be one of their choices.


Driving action


Here come some of the newest solutions of YouTube which can really help performance marketers. We briefly mentioned the call to action overlay, but this is only one of the examples.


True View for shopping is an ad type for an ecommerce. If you already have a Google Merchant Center you can connect this one with your YouTube campaign by showing products from your feed below a video. For example, you are running a video ad showing a fashion collection. Below the ad you can have a stipe of products which are appearing in the video with a “Buy now” button and price.


True View for app install is a great way to encourage more people to download your application. It is the same format – skippable after 5 seconds, but below the video there is a white line whith a call to action button which links directly to Google Play or the App Store.


TrueView for action can be used for any other type of conversion – sign up, download a form, subscribe for a newsletter, etc. In this case below the skippable video ad users will see a line promoting the product or service and a call to action button. This will take the user to a URL where they can take the action the advertiser is encouraging them to take. This is different from the call to action overlay. It is much more prominent and it has a clickable button, whereas the overlay is a small transparent ad which shows over the video.


Setting up your campaign is very easy in the new interface.


Step one – click the + button in the campaign section and choose Video campaign.

Step two – define the objective – traffic, leads, sales or app installs.


Step three – define daily budget, audience, add targeting like keywords or placements. In the case of a YouTube campaign placements can be specific channels, videos, as well as websites on the Display Network (only applicable to True View discovery ads)


Step four – create your ad by choosing your video and including headline, call to action and a URL.


Press Save. You are done.