YouTube offers unprecedented reach and sophisticated targeting options for advertisers. In this session, SMX West expert speakers shared successful YouTube video ad tactics, along with tips for driving results with other ad formats. Joe Martinez from Clix Marketing covered YouTube development and targeting, new options, measurement and reporting.

The first thing you need to know about YouTube success is that you have to have realistic expectations. If you are someone who thinks YouTube doesn’t work, you’ll need to ask these three questions:

  1. How am I targeting?
  2. Who’s actually seeing my ads?
  3. How am I encouraging users to take action?

You have to understand who you are targeting and encourage those audiences to take action. Using basic keyword and topic targeting first does not necessarily lead to success. According to Joe, if you still think your targeting is OK, you’re probably not paying attention to the fine print. You need to be leery of default settings and avoid copy and paste campaigns.

YouTube targeting best practices

Unless you have an unlimited budget here are some best practices to start.

  1. Never start with the broad stuff like basic keyword and topic targeting
  2. Use custom intent audiences first
  3. Pay attention to the fine print
  4. Encourage audiences to take action

How to make the best YouTube targeting options even better

Start with custom intent audiences. Custom intent audiences can help you reach new customers on YouTube based on the terms your audiences use to search for your products or services on Here are a few ways that you can start with custom intent audiences in your campaigns:

  1. Start with converting search queries – Then try converting keyword. (Yes, they are two different targets)
  2. Localized terms – These may not apply for every account but these are great for local shops, but make sure your video content matches.
  3. Top selling products in Google Analytics
  4. Site search queries – When people are on your website what are they looking for? This can be a great target base.

Your creative should match the intent

Video campaign structure example for custom intent audiences

Set your campaigns so you can optimize bids based on custom intent audience.

Video placements can still work: However, you must really understand how they work

A lot of change has happened for the past year. You have to make sure you are paying attention or you can waste money here. A common misconception is that video ads from Google can only be shown on YouTube. When in fact, these can and are shown on the Display Network. When planning for your campaigns you can search for specific Display Network Placements; however, remember results will show all Display Network placements (not just URLs with only video ad space). Keep in mind if we create too small a target, Google will just start showing us for broader items under keywords and topics.

YouTube placement is not always exact:

When you have to read verbatim what Google says on YouTube and Display Network placements:

In a nutshell what this means: Google will essentially still run wherever it seems fit.

What to do now that Google killed Display Network Planner

Here’s the not ideal way to find display placements: Review current placement performance from other YouTube campaigns in Google Ads.

Review where your ads are actually shown so you’re not wasting your money

The group stealing your ad budget: Children

Joe makes a point to bring up where we are all wasting our money. This is very common. People give their phones and tablets to their kids. Be proactive! Exclude these on the account list!

Keep an eye on devices

TV screens may not drive a lot of traffic now, but we should monitor the performance.

With TV launching as a device on YouTube in October it is especially important to keep on eye on our device performance. However, even though you can segment by device in the campaigns view of the devices report, it will not give us all of the good column for video campaigns.

And, even though you can review the TV screen data in YouTube and get better data, we still can’t do bid adjustments here. Another option is to use YouTube Studio to provide additional insights on all videos:

This will show both paid and organic video campaigns.

Encouraging audiences to take action: TruView for Shopping Ads

Your Ads will now appear alongside the video ad and stay up even after the video is skipped or completed. These campaigns are perfect for helping drive ecommerce revenue.

Having proper goal expectations

Product and brand consideration: This goal recommends settings and features designed to get more people to consider buying your products and services. This can be used to influence potential customers when they are researching, engage with people who have been interested in your brand, and encourage people to consider your brand in the future.

Choosing products:

  • Select up to 10 products maximum
  • Only six cards will show at a time
  • Out-of-stock products will show, but only after feed is updated

Currently custom filters only pull from Merchant Center feed labels. See example below:

Choosing labels that matter: Review your current labels and ask “do these align with my business goals?”

Structuring your campaigns for custom filters: Here’s an example of how the campaign structure should look when using custom filters.

Unfortunately, when you are getting ready to build these campaign types, quick creation or editing through AdWords Editor is not available.

New call to action extensions

CTA extension appears while the TrueView In-Stream ad is playing, the extension also stays visible after the ad is completed or skipped. These are especially important to take note of due to the fact that Call to Action Overlays went away in January 2019. In order to use the new extension option, you will need to ensure your YouTube campaigns have the Leads campaign goal. Unfortunately, there is no way around this.

Campaign goals

Another change is that once you choose your campaign goal, it cannot be changed.


You can now use both CPA and Max Conversion bidding on these campaigns.

Measuring the value

When looking at the value, you can’t just look at direct conversions and revenue, as they are the icing on the cake and don’t show the entire picture. When looking at YouTube we also should be considering View and Earned metrics.

Creating audiences from video views

You can pull audience lists from the engaged audiences who view your videos. This can either be by viewing any video (as an ad) from a channel, or when certain videos as ads are viewed.

Add “Observation” audience to all search campaigns:

See how your YouTube ads impacted search

In order for RLSA to work you’ll need at least 1,000 users every 30 days.

In conclusion, here are the SMX insights:

  • The basic targeting options in YouTube are just okay. Create your own custom audiences to pursue.
  • Make sure you know exactly where your YouTube ads are being shown.
  • After your targeting is set, drive action by encouraging users to visit your site.
  • Monitor the performance of your YouTube ads beyond direct conversions.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Amanda Farley is a partner at (SS Digital Media) in Metro Detroit, where she leads operations and strategic planning. With nearly 10 years in the search industry, she uses her experiences to lead digital strategy for enterprise-level brands and companies. Her integrated campaign strategies have earned her and her agency national and local recognition and awards. She’s passionate about growing her teams, clients, and local communities. Outside of the office, Amanda enjoys regularly speaking at local and national conferences, including SMX, FoundConf, HeroConf as well as PRSA and Detroit Women in Digital events.

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