Everything You Want To Know About E-Commerce

YouTube Ads Guide 2019: Getting Started, Targeting and more

How to set up YouTube Ads to promote your E-Commerce store

The first step is to set up your YouTube channel. More than one person can be enabled to manage your channel. This facility is possible with a Brand Account as opposed to a Personal Channel, which are the two types of accounts you can have on YouTube. An existing YouTube channel can also be added to a Brand Account. Even if the existing channel is linked to your personal account, it can also be added to a Brand Account wherein you can continue to manage the channel, with a different name, from your personal Google account. When you want to add or remove managers for your Brand Account channel, you can do so at the ‘Brand Account Details’ page. Once you have your video/s ready, you can upload it along with a headline, description, and a thumbnail image. Next, when you have your video ads ready too, you can take the clicks on your ads by viewers and potential customers to either your website or your YouTube channel.

Video ad formats

Skippable in-stream ads consist of videos that you want people to see during the playing of another video. The ad can be presented before the other video starts, during the playing of the other video or at the end of the playing of the other video. In this video ad format, the viewer can skip your video content 5 seconds after it starts playing. If you are bidding for Click-per-View or CPV, you will be charged when the viewer views 30 seconds or for whatever duration if the viewing spanned less than 30 seconds. If the viewer interacts with the video, that is also chargeable. This format is suitable if you are looking to generate leads or traffic. It is also suitable for creating awareness of your brand, be it e-commerce or brick & mortar.

Non-skippable in-stream ads are also presented together with another video, either prior to, during or after. The ads are 15 seconds or less. While Skippable ads come with both CPV and CPM (Cost per Thousand Impressions-when the video is presented to the user as a clickable & viewable option) bidding, non-skippable come with CPM bidding only. This marketing format is suitable if you are looking to create brand awareness and increase reach.

Discovery ads are shown to people in places such as ‘related video’ suggestions as they complete watching a video or as they search for a video. The ad must be clicked by the viewer. It is presented as a thumbnail image with some descriptive text. Charges become applicable only when the viewer clicks on the thumbnail.

Bumper Ads are another non-skippable type but in a shorter, crisper version at a duration of 6 seconds. Use them when you want your marketing to reach out to a broad swathe of the audience. Charges are applied at the rate of a thousand impressions (CPM).

Outstream ads are the mobile-only version of Google video ad formats but are not available for YouTube. They can be bid for impressions on the Google Display Network of websites, e-commerce sites and apps. The video begins in muted mode with customers needing to tap to unmute. Charges are applied when more than half of the ad’s screen visual is shown for two seconds and higher. The cost per thousand impressions is on a vCPM basis or viewable CPM as against the regular CPM which is just the ad becoming presented to users over a 1000 times.

Google Video Partners

These are websites, e-commerce sites and apps outside of YouTube that Google selects after verifying their quality. If your video campaign is TrueView Instream or Bumper type, Google Video Partners are automatically a part of the campaign. You can select and deselect the sites and apps that you want your ads to be shown by going to the ‘Networks’ setting within Campaign settings. If you want to focus on certain sites, devices or times of the day etc. you can adjust your bid accordingly so that your ad is shown exactly where and when you want at the Google Video Partner locations.

Bid Adjustments

Bids in your YouTube video campaign can be adjusted by device and location. Ad scheduling is also available for video campaigns. Bid adjustment is not available for remarketing lists in the search network. Bid adjustments can be made with demographics. Now, let us check out the actual targeting itself.


ou can home in on the exact audience that your products serve, either in your e-commerce store or in your brick & mortar store. You can pick out the audience that will be presented with your YouTube video ads by demographic such as basic elements of age and sex and detailed demographic targeting such as homeowners etc. You can also have your ads running on websites, e-commerce sites and apps that are a part of the Google Display Network (which reaches about 90 percent of the Internet according to Comscore data).

Audience targeting for video campaigns can be done on the basis of affinity or custom affinity to reach the exact target population. The affinity or custom affinity audiences are targeted by their interests as well as their habits. Another audience targeting category for video campaigns is on the basis of researching/planning activities carried out by them online on search or at e-commerce sites and are categorized into ‘Custom intent,’ ‘Life events’ and when customers are ‘in-market.’ Other audience targeting categories are Remarketing, ‘Customer match’ (based on your knowledge of customer activities) and ‘Similar Audiences’ who are similar to those who visit your website or e-commerce site.

‘Custom affinity’ targeting allows selection of audience in terms of the keyword phrases that people have used to search for their interests, types of places that people are interested in, users who have related apps, with a combination of all of these selections being used to arrive at a narrowed-down audience from the overall affinity audience.

In ‘Custom Intent’ targeting for your YouTube campaign, you can use between 300 and 500 keywords that your customers would use in a search on Google.com. Here, the focus is on a broad segment of the audience as opposed to the slimmed-down focus of “Custom Affinity’ targeting.

Remarketing is when your marketing efforts reach out to previous users of your website or previous visitors of your website. This delivers maximization of ROI and rates that meet your target ROI through the auction methodology of Google Ads. Remarketing is implemented by linking your Google Ads account and your YouTube channel. This allows for the remarketing to be carried out based on the actions your users/visitors have made on your YouTube channel. With permissions to your Google Ads account to look up the metrics of the YouTube channel, data can be collected on how people react to your video ads. The metrics that can be approved to be looked up include non-paid view counts, earned-action metrics and the creation of remarketing lists. The number of Google Ads accounts that can be linked to a YouTube channel is not restricted as is the other way round in terms of the number of YouTube channels that can be linked to a Google Ads account.

Displaying your videos in locations that have relevant topics

Topic Targeting allows your videos to be presented to your potential customers across a broad spectrum of topics that are related to your product/service in websites and e-commerce sites. Bidding for the targeted topics can be set by you or can be assigned to the automated bidding system. 


If you want your ad to run on a specific website or e-commerce site, you can do so with ‘Managed Placements.’ The marketing placement can also be made on the corresponding app of the website, if it has one. With Managed Placements, you can run your video ads on websites and e-commerce sites that are popular and relevant to your sector/niche.


You can also target your marketing to home in on the right devices to run your ads such as computers, smartphones etc.

Marketing Goals

Let us now see types of ads based on your marketing goals.

Goal-Build awareness and ad recall: For this goal, there are five recommended ad types of TrueView for Reach, Bumper ads, Reservation 15/20s, Outstream video ads and Masthead. In TrueView for Reach, video length is open while recommended duration is 15 seconds. You can measure the impact of your ad over metrics such as whether they recall your ad, whether they are more aware of your business after watching the ad and the reach in terms of the number of people who watched the ad. TrueView for Reach ads are skippable. Bumper ads are non-skippable as are Reservation 15/20s ads. The latter require a commitment to spending a minimum amount. From April 22, 2019, YouTube is supporting third-party ad serving or 3PAS  on YouTube Reservation. As the ad type name of Reservation 15/20s suggests, Reservation videos can be 15 or 20 seconds in length. The maximum video length is up to 6 minutes for skippable ads. While the bidding approach is cost per thousand impressions for TrueView for Reach and Bumper Ads, it is Fixed CPM for Reservation 15/20 ads. Outstream video ads are also non-skippable and are presented to people when they are watching news etc. with the bidding approach being viewable CPM which allows you to set your maximum amount for every view as against clicks. The fifth type of ad for this goal is Masthead which is an ad that is presented on the YouTube home page. The bidding for Masthead is on the basis of fixed Cost-per-Day or fCPD.

Goal-Grow Consideration and interest: For this goal, there are two recommended ad types of TrueView in-stream and TrueView discovery. Both come with skippable specifications. While the former can be presented before, during or after a video, the latter can be presented in Search results or in ‘Related Video’ results. The bidding approach is cost-per-view for both. Impact can be measured in terms of whether those who viewed your ad have developed the intent to purchase from you. In both types, a view is considered to have happened when 30 seconds or an interaction occurs. As we saw earlier, if the view is less than 30 seconds, the corresponding duration is taken into account.

Goal-Drive Action: With this goal, you have two recommended ad types to work with which are TrueView for Action and Universal App Campaign for Video. Both are Skippable. In TrueView for Action, the bidding approach is Target cost-per-acquisition or Target CPA. As you can see, the goal here is to get an acquisition of a customer and not just serving out an impression of your video or getting a view as the targets were with the previous two goals. In this bidding approach, you can set the bidding to work on a ‘Maximize Conversions’ approach. In this approach, an automated bid strategy is applied by a machine-learning model that is based on past campaigns and all context-related inputs at the time of the auction. A campaign that is based on the ‘Maximize Conversions’ approach will need to have its own budget and not a shared budget with other campaigns. And the daily expenditure will also be higher. The impact of ‘TrueView for Action’ can be measured through store visits and website, e-commerce site conversions.  

The ‘Maximize Conversions’ bid strategy needs ‘Conversion Tracking’ to be enabled. This requires selection of the source that you want to track for conversion. The sources can be website, e-commerce site, app, phone or imports.  

Moving on to the next ad type within the ‘Drive Action’ marketing goal, we take a look at the ‘Universal App campaign for video’ type. As you guessed, this is for your App and to have it promoted by ads for the purpose of having your app downloaded. There are three bidding approaches in this marketing type which are Cost-per-Acquisition, Cost-per-Install (CPI) and Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). The measurement of the impact of this marketing type is through tracking of post-install actions in terms of completion of the actions that you have specified for your campaign in your website or e-commerce site.

Optimizing your Video Campaigns

When you launch your marketing video campaigns, you will need to respond to the results of the campaign and optimize wherever any fine tuning is necessary

  1. Vary the aspect ratio of your videos and have different presentations ready to be optimized to deliver the best viewing experience. Then, the perfect match for a customer’s viewing will be selected. There are three types of aspect ratios: vertical, square and landscape.

  2. Optimize your cost-per-view: You can set your CPV at the maximum rate you are able/ready to pay for each view. As we saw earlier, the CPV bidding approach works with the second goal-type of ‘Growing Consideration and Interest’ in your website or e-commerce site. The actual CPV that you pay will not always be the Max that you have set as the charges are based on a number of factors including the competition. The quality of your marketing ads as well as the targeting are relevant factors in keeping your CPV down. The better the ad and the more relevant it is, the lesser your CPV will be. One way to keep CPV down is to target a broader range of locations as there will be more chances to win a bid.

  3. View Rate: As we saw with the CPV model, ads that are more creative/magnetic will generate more views in relation to the impressions (presenting the ad to the user), thereby developing a higher View Rate. As a result, an ad with a higher view rate has more chances of winning auctions and at a lower CPV too as they are relevant to users/viewers. Vary your ads over all creative possibilities to arrive at the best version of your ad that will garner the most positive responses from viewers. A lower view rate might be occurring because you are showing ads to the wrong audience. So, focus on targeting better to improve view rates and drive CPV down.


  4. Moving from views to clicks: The click-through rate (CTR) is when viewers of your ads have graduated to clicking on them to get to either your website, e-commerce site or your YouTube channel. Here, we are working over the third goal-type that we saw previously of ‘Drive Action’ and the ‘TrueView for Action’ ad type. Keep track of the CTR and evaluate the progress of your video campaign.


  5. Targeting: As we saw with the view rate requiring the right targeting, you can also exclude certain topics or demographic groups so that there is no irrelevant targeting in your marketing efforts at all.


  6. Focus on TrueView Discovery ads: As this ad type works on the basis of suggestions to the user, a view implies that the user is more inclined towards your product/service as they have demonstrated by checking your ad out, which meets the marketing goal of ‘Grow Consideration and Interest.’


  7. Focus on Remarketing by creating dynamic combination lists such as those of users who have visited your website or e-commerce site but who have not visited your channel etc.


  8. Deploy Advanced Campaign Settings: As your YouTube channel picks up pace, move over to the deployment of advanced marketing features such as keeping a limit on the number of times that an ad will be shown to a user. You can also pick and specify the time of day or the day of week that you want your ads to be shown.

Understanding video campaign metrics

Among the other metrics that we have not covered yet are those related to engagement. These are with regard to cards that you can deploy on your videos, clicks on which do not lead to your website or e-commerce site. These are in the form of teasers. Engagement response lists the number of times these teasers were clicked with respect to the number of times your ads were viewed.

Metrics related to Frequency and Reach comprise ‘Unique Cookies’ stored on individual browsers, ‘Unique viewers (cookies)’ which lists how many times an unique cookie viewed your ad, ‘Average Impression Frequency per User’ which lists how many times an user was presented with your ad (not viewed), ‘Average Impression Frequency per Cookie’ which lists the number of times your ad was presented to a cookie and ‘Average View Frequency per Cookie.’

Video viewership metrics lists how many times your ad was viewed up to 25 percent of its length, 50 percent of its length and 100 percent of its length. This metric termed as ‘Quartile Reporting’ is with regard to paid results and organic results derived from Google Search or YouTube Search will not be covered.

Reporting can be customized to suit your preferences. Once you have customized the tables, you can download them over different report types and at required intervals. With regard to targeting, you can check out how your ad was received over keywords that you targeted, demographics that you targeted and Audiences that you targeted.

Telling a story

Video ad sequencing allows you to get your videos in a sequence that makes up for a better story-telling structure that makes for much better marketing. The targeting and the bidding strategy are set at the level of the campaign. You can select the ad format and the bid for each step of the sequence. The progress of a viewer through the sequence is measured by impression. The recommended bidding strategy is Target CPM as it is designed to achieve a higher rate of sequence completion. Other bidding strategies are Maximum CPM and Maximum CPV.

While Audience and Demographic targeting are possible in a video ad sequencing campaign, targeting keywords, placements and topics are not allowed. The Audience and Demographic targeting are to be set at the campaign level and cannot be done at the level of steps in the sequence. If a user watches different steps in the sequence in different marketing campaigns, your costs will be lower.

Reach Planning

Google’s ‘Reach Planner’ tool guides you in planning your video campaign on YouTube and Google Partner websites, e-commerce sites and apps. The tool helps you to estimate the results of your video marketing campaign. The estimates that the tool produces are the number of people within the targeted audience that you will connect to your website, e-commerce site through your campaign which in termed as ‘On-target Reach,’ and the average number of times that a person would see the ad during the course of a campaign. A metric called ‘Target Rating Point’ or On-Target Gross Rating Point is estimated by the tool. It is obtained by multiplying ‘percent of on-target reach’ and ‘average frequency.’ This metric that is based on the in-demo audience aids the marketing planning process. From the Target Rating Point (TRP), the Cost per TRP is also estimated by dividing the Total Cost by the TRP.

In terms of the total census of your marketing audience, YouTube’s Reach Planner estimates the total number of people at your location within the demographic that you are targeting. Within this total, the number of people that watch YouTube within 30 days and that used the internet, watched TV within 30 days is also revealed by Reach Planner.

In terms of age, Reach Planner also works only with those who are 18 or older. When you want to apply targeting that is not based on demographic such as affinities, the total population and the reach percentage are not made available.  

Ramping up

When you have got the grip of marketing with YouTube ads, you will want to get many more campaigns and ads going. At this point, YouTube provides you with the tools to manage a large range of video campaigns to promote your websites or e-commerce sites. You can work with spreadsheets that detail more than a hundred marketing campaigns, ad groups and ads. After working on the spreadsheet offline, you can upload the document to your account and have the campaigns up and running. You can also do bulk in-line editing. Bids and Budget can also be set to automatically change in line with conditions that you set.

Making the video

Let us now close out our guide by returning to the basics of making your marketing video. The following file formats are supported by YouTube: .MOV, .MPEG4, .MP4, .AVI, .WMV, .MPEGPS, .FLV, 3GPP, WebM, DNxHR, ProRes, CineForm, HEVC (h265). To return to the aspect ratio that we saw previously in ‘Optimizing Video Campaigns,’ let us now take a closer look at square and vertical videos that are best suited for viewing on mobile devices, which make up 70 percent of YouTube Watch Time data as of Google’s 2018 data. The YouTube app automatically optimizes the video for the device on which the video is being played. Vertical videos are the natural fit for viewers seeing video on mobile phones. The aspect ratio must ideally be varied between video campaigns and app campaigns. A 16:9 aspect ratio is suggested for landscape while a vertical aspect ratio of 9:16 or square 1:1 or both is suggested. On a mobile screen, the vertical 9:16 will appear larger and span 75 percent of the screen. When the impression of the ad is shown to the user, portions of a vertical ad will be cropped out. So, it is suggested to avoid important messaging in the top 10 percent and bottom 25 percent of the video.  

When making marketing videos for both video and app campaigns, make different versions of videos over the recommended aspect ratios. Make multiple videos over each type of landscape, vertical and square, with each video having different messages. Set Ad Rotation to ‘Optimize’ for video campaigns for the picking out of the best fit from your ad collection to suit the device. For App campaigns, ‘Optimize’ Ad Rotation is set by default.

In terms of ad length, as we saw earlier, the maximum length for skippable ads is 6 minutes while that for non-skippable ads is 15 seconds. However for non-skippable ads in EMEA, Mexico, India, Malaysia, and Singapore only, the maximum length is 20 seconds.

For Third-Party ad serving (3PAS) which we saw earlier too, becoming available from April 22, 2019, use the YouTube VAST validator to check whether your ad tags meet specifications. The allowed format for 3PAS is H.264 (MP4) video file type. The Aspect Ratio that is acceptable is 16:9 or 4:3. The preferred audio format is MP3 or AAC. Up to 30 Frames per Second are allowed. The maximum file size is 10MB.

Other requirements include SSL compliance and not having Geo, Browser or targeting of any other sort at the end of the third party.

Video Privacy Settings

You can go to YouTube Studio Beta and click ‘Visibility’ in the ‘Live’ tab to select privacy settings from among Public, Private or Unlisted. Private videos will not be served up in YouTube Search. Unlisted videos are those that are not available on your channel but only to those who you provide the link of the marketing video to. A Google account is not needed for viewing an Unlisted video and neither is it served out in Search or as a Related video. But, they can be commented on just like Public videos, which makes up your feedback equivalent to e-commerce sites, whereas Private videos cannot be commented on.

Also check out 360-degree videos. They can be made at 24, 25, 30, 48, 50, or 60 frames per second and at a resolution of 7168×3584 or higher, up to 8192×4096. 360-degree videos need certain metadata that can be automatically filled with the use of the ‘360 Video Metadata App.’

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