Lights, camera, action! Learn how to turn your video ad into a lucrative tool that brings maximum traffic and conversions to your business.

Here, you’ll find:

  • An explanation of Google Ads video campaigns
  • Advantages of creating YouTube video ads
  • A step-by-step guide to launching your video campaign
  • Easy tips to increase the effectiveness of your ads

Video content is more important than ever before. In fact, internet users today spend an eyebrow-raising one-third of their time online watching videos, and there’s no sign of a slowdown.

You’re probably already using Google Ads in some capacity, perhaps creating text ads or Display ads with visuals. But video ads are an important addition to your marketing strategy.

Here, we’ll delve into what Google Ads video campaigns are and how to make them work for your business.

On the fence about launching a video campaign? The benefits are well worth the effort you’ll put in. (Image: Adobe Stock)

What are Google Ads video campaigns?

Google Ads video campaigns are ad campaigns that allow you to create and share video ads through YouTube and other Google partners. These campaigns are ideal for quickly capturing your audience’s attention, sharing valuable information about your company, and reaching a wide range of potential customers across the internet. 

If you’ve ever clicked on a YouTube video and had to watch an ad before the video itself, you’ve been witness to a Google Ads video campaign.

But these ads don’t just show up on YouTube. They also appear throughout the Google Display Network, a collection of more than 2 million apps and websites, as well as various sites that run on Google video partners.

Google Ads determines which ads appear for a specific search based on auctions. Google considers five factors when choosing an ad to feature:

  • Your bid
  • Your ad quality
  • The expected impact from your ad assets and other ad formats
  • Your Ad Rank
  • Your ad’s context

You’ll set your daily budget before your campaign ever launches, so Google will automatically bid for you and ensure you never exceed your budget.

From here, the process works similarly to any other PPC auction. When a user searches for a specific keyword or phrase, Google runs an auction involving all the ads submitted for that word or phrase. Google looks at the above criteria, picks a winner, and shows the ad to the user, all within milliseconds.

Benefits of running a video campaign on Google Ads

On the fence about launching a video campaign? The benefits are well worth the effort you’ll put in.

To start, video campaigns are great for increasing brand consideration and brand awareness. Even if a viewer skips your ad, they’re still being briefly exposed to your brand. And they’re likely to remember you.

Videos are ideal if you need to share a lot of information in a short amount of time. Even a 15-second video ad can enable you to tell customers about your company, your products, and your brand values. A combination of visuals and text on-screen should do the trick.

Another huge benefit of video ads is the sharability. People share videos online twice as much as they share other types of content, like long-form articles or infographics. If your ad resonates with someone, they could do some of the legwork for you by sharing the video with their friends on social media.

How to launch your video campaign

If you haven’t already set up a Google Ads account and a YouTube channel for your company, that should be your first order of business. If you’ve launched a Google Ads campaign in the past, then you’ll be familiar with the initial setup process.

1. Setup

The first steps are similar to any other ad campaign. You’ll choose your:

  • campaign goal
  • your budget and bidding strategy
  • any campaign targeting specifications you want

A quick note about budgeting and bidding: in some types of video campaigns, you’ll have the option of cost-per-view (CPV) bidding.

CPV bidding lets you bid on views and interactions, like when a viewer clicks on your call-to-action (CTA) overlay. For a view to be registered, the user has to watch your ad for 30 seconds (or the entire ad if it’s less than 30 seconds) or interact with your ad.

You can set a maximum CPV, which is the highest amount you could be charged for your ad. But you may end up being charged less depending on your Quality Score, your Ad Rank, and the scores of your competitors. The amount you end up paying is referred to as your actual CPV.

After you’re done setting your budget, you’ll move on to ad groups. Ad groups help to organize your ads in various groups based on common themes. That way, you can designate ads to appear in front of specific demographics, audience segments, or keywords.

On top of that, you can designate Exclusions. Exclusions are segments of viewers that do not fall into your target audience. In other words, you don’t want to advertise to them because they wouldn’t be profitable. Using exclusions allows you to further tailor your audience, reducing unnecessary ad spend and increasing return on investment (ROI).

2. Create your campaign

Now you’re ready to start creating your first ad!

You’ll be asked to select a campaign type and, of course, you’ll select Video. Using a combination of ad types (which we’ll highlight below) lets you track performance and identify the ad type that best resonates with your audience.

You also have the option of creating a TrueView video campaign. According to Google, “TrueView video ads are an interactive way to engage with your customers on YouTube and across the internet.” TrueView videos are YouTube ads that actively engage your viewers, playing either before or during a video.

If you’re planning to advertise mainly on YouTube, TrueView is a good option. They’re the types of ads that viewers are used to, so they’re more likely to pay attention. Plus, you can minimize your ad spend and still garner impressive results.

Another noteworthy option is running a video action campaign. These campaigns are specifically designed to bring as many conversions as possible. Your ads (either skippable in-stream ads or in-feed video ads) can show up on Google video partner websites as well as across YouTube, including within the Home Feed, watch page, “watch next,” and search results.

This option is best for those looking to scale their campaigns quickly. You can have your ads run on mobile, desktop, and TVs all in one campaign, so you don’t have to individually set budgets and bids.

When you’re creating your campaign, you have five video ad formats to choose from:

  • Skippable in-stream ads can appear before, during, or after a video and give users the option to skip after five seconds.
  • Non-skippable in-stream ads last 15 seconds or less and can’t be skipped, giving you a brief ad slot to convey a complete message.
  • Bumper ads are quick, six-second ads that can’t be skipped. Create a short, memorable message that can reach a wider audience than longer ads.
  • In-feed video ads are only seen on YouTube in areas where users discover content, like the recommended video feed. Clicking on the ad will send a user to watch the ad on your company’s YouTube channel.
  • Outstream ads appear on other apps or websites working with Google video partners. Not only can they reach more users than YouTube-only ads, but they’re easier for users to view thanks to their exclusive placements on mobile devices and tablets.

Running a successful video ad campaign can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. (Image: Adobe Stock)

3. Track your performance

After you’ve created a few ads and are done setting up your campaign, it can take a few days for your ads to actually start running. Keep an eye on your account to see when your ads have been approved.

Once your ads start running, you can use Google Analytics to keep track of your metrics and see how audiences are responding. A few of the most common metrics to track include:

  • Impressions: An impression is counted every time someone sees your video. You can track thumbnail impressions (the number of times people see your video’s thumbnail) and video impressions (the number of times people watched your ads for 30 seconds or less).
  • Views: Views are counted when someone watches your in-stream ad for 30 seconds or longer.
  • Clicks: Clicks are recorded any time someone clicks on your ad, giving you more information about how engaging your ad is.
  • Video Played To: This metric shows you how far viewers get in your video. You can see how many viewers watch 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100% of your ad.

Best practices to optimize your Google Ads/YouTube campaign

Running a successful video ad campaign can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. A bit of forethought and preparation can make your campaign as effective as possible.

Hit the high points early

It’s no secret that the majority of users skip video ads if they can.

With that in mind, it’s critical to catch your audience’s attention and get your point across within the first few seconds of your video. It should be immediately clear what your business does and what you want the viewer to do.

If you really want things to be short and sweet, you can do that, too. Your ad doesn’t have to be long to be effective. In fact, the shorter your ad is, the more likely it is that your viewers will watch the whole thing. Almost 60% of internet users will watch the entirety of an ad if it’s under 60 seconds.

Try several types of video ads

We covered the five main types of video ads earlier, but it’s important to revisit them here. Using multiple types of ad formats in your campaign can help you garner better results and wider reach than sticking to just one video type. 

For instance, you can create a six-second bumper ad to offer a quick, to-the-point summary of your company and its offerings. Then, for something a bit more in-depth, you can expand on your original video and create a 15-second non-skippable in-stream ad. 

You don’t have to start from scratch every time you make a new ad. Try expanding on short videos or trimming down long ads to fit the criteria of various ad types. This strategy will give you the most bang for your buck. 

Throughout your campaign, you can also experiment with video discovery ads. YouTube video discovery ads (also called in-feed video ads) show up on a user’s Home, Search, and Watch feeds on YouTube. Your ads will be placed next to the content that your audience is already viewing, giving you a better chance of making an impression.

Use assets wisely

Your ad can do so much more for you than simply exposing an audience to your brand. By including relevant assets, you can make it easier for your target audience to interact with you.

Assets (formerly called “extensions”) are additional elements within your ad that give more information to the viewer, like your company’s address, phone number, or hours.

For instance, your video ad can include sitelinks that take the user to your homepage or a specified landing page on your website. You can include up to four sitelinks, which will be displayed under the ad.

If you want more information from your viewers, you can include a lead form as an asset. This method lets users interact with your brand without ever leaving their given platform, which can lead to increased engagement.

What to look out for when creating Google Ads video campaigns

There are some default settings in Google Ads that many advertisers aren’t aware of, and if you don’t read the fine print, you could be sabotaging your campaign without realizing it.

Default network

When you’re setting up your campaign, you’ll see a section called “Networks,” where you can specify where you want your ads to be displayed. By default, your ads will show in three places:

  • YouTube search results
  • YouTube videos
  • Video partners on the Display Network

Many advertisers choose to keep the settings as they are, giving their ads the best chance of being seen and drawing website traffic. But if you have a small budget, you might want to uncheck the Display Network option.

By limiting your video ads to run on YouTube alone, you’ll have a better chance of engagement without spending too much money. YouTube is based on video content, so that’s what people expect to see. You’re likely to see better watch times, performance in general, and return on investment (ROI) compared to having your ads all over the internet.

TV devices

We mentioned video action campaigns before, and it’s time to return to them. As we said, video action campaigns can run on mobile devices, desktops, and TVs. But even though your ad will show up if someone’s watching a YouTube video on their television, the assets you add might not.

Adding assets like sitelinks or lead forms can be great for increasing engagement, but they only work on mobile or desktop. Those assets won’t appear if the ad is playing on a TV. So, to make the most of your ad budget, go to “Devices” in your Google Ads campaign settings and turn off “TV screens.”

Managed placements

When you’re setting up your campaign, you have the option to specify what YouTube channels, videos, apps, or websites you want your ad to be displayed on. But just because you choose the placements you want doesn’t mean Google will always listen.

Google will place your ads on YouTube or Display Network placements that are in line with your other targeting specifications. In other words, if you hand-pick a placement that doesn’t match with the other targeting information you’ve provided, Google might ignore the placements you chose. Double-check your placements to ensure your ad spend is going where you expect it to.

Display website capabilities

You might have to do some research before deciding just what Display Network websites you want your ads to run on. But Google doesn’t limit itself to just the websites that have video ad placements; it will show you every possible result.

If your ad is placed on a website that doesn’t run video ads, your ad spend is essentially being wasted. Monitor your Display Network placements to ensure your ad is actually running.

The takeaway

If videos aren’t already part of your digital marketing strategy, there’s no better time than the present.

Whether you’re looking to start creating video ads or launch a new campaign to scale your business further, HawkSEM can help. We’ll learn about your company and collaborate on a strategy that’s sure to bring results. Contact us today to learn more.

Alexandra Thompson

Alexandra Thompson

Alexandra Thompson has been in the content marketing world since 2017 and is a proud member of the Hawk writing team. When she's not writing, she's probably got her nose in a book or a Disney movie on TV.