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The key to success on YouTube is not only to produce great, relevant videos, but also to make sure your target audience sees them. In this section, we'll guide you through cost-effective strategies to help you get the most out of paid and earned video views and ensure effective promotion of your content on YouTube.

Please Note: All the strategies outlined here require you to pay for your own advertising. To get started with paid promotion, contact your Google sales representative.

Ignite Earned Media With Paid Media

Given the abundance of videos on the web, it's risky to assume that your content will be organically discovered by a large audience. It is key to design a solid plan to promote your content and ensure it's viewed by your target audience.

Virality plays a key role in building your audience on YouTube, but unless you already have millions of subscribers, you'll need to seed your content when it launches. Indeed, when they don't have an existing subscriber base or engaged social following, many brands use paid advertising on YouTube to ignite sharing and accelerate audience building.

The YouTube platform allows you to optimize your investment in paid media by activating the virtuous circle that links Owned Media (your video content), Paid Media (paid video advertising) and Earned Media ("free" views obtained when people share the video ads).

One major benefit of advertising on YouTube? Earned impact.

It is not uncommon to see campaigns generate at least one earned view as a result of every two paid views. And we know the YouTube audience isn't shy about sharing brand content: Three in four YouTube users agree that "If there is a brand I love, I tend to tell everyone about it."

Indeed hundreds of campaigns get more than two earned views per paid view.

Choose the Right Video Ad Format

You want your videos to reach the audience most interested in your content and therefore the most likely to share it.

That's why YouTube created a new type of video advertising called TrueView, the first ad format where viewers choose whether or not to view an ad. (It's also called "skippable advertising," because viewers can skip the ad after the first five seconds.)

This ad format ensures that you pay for advertising only when a user watches the ad. It also ensures that viewers pay more attention to your ad because they've actively chosen to watch it.

When you have a new video, consider transforming it into an ad that will be promoted through a TrueView campaign. This is a great way to reach audiences who might not naturally look for your brand but could be enticed to explore your channel after seeing a compelling video.

"If you drop the idea of ambushing people's attention by shoving videos down their throat, and instead ask them to view by invitation, you can share an idea."
— Chris Anderson, TED

The TrueView Ad Format offers different types of placements to reach your interested audience. In each placement, you only pay for a "true view."

TrueView in-stream

TrueView in-stream ads play before the start of a YouTube video. Viewers see five seconds of your ad and then can choose to keep watching or skip it. You pay a "cost-per-view" if they choose to watch at least 30 seconds of your ad.

TrueView in-display

With in-display ads, your video appears in a special promoted section of the video search results pages on YouTube and Google video results.

You pay only when a viewer chooses to watch your video. Book an in-display ad when you want to surface any video in the search results for a high-frequency query.


To get started with TrueView video ads, contact your Google representative or upload your video to YouTube, create an AdWords account at, create a new "online video campaign," set a budget, and follow the best practices outlined in this playbook.

Need help setting up your campaign? Search for the "Mastering AdWords for Video" playlist on YouTube.

Optimize Your Video for Paid Promotion

Before you start paying to promote your videos, make sure they're well-optimized for online advertising. Here are some tips for creating compelling video ads that take advantage of the online ecosystem.

  • Make the first five seconds count. After this the user can skip your ad. Convince them to stay!
  • Keep it short. Shoot for 30-60 seconds.
  • Show viewers what you'™re all about. Include clips of your content and make the ad in the same style as the content on your channel.
  • Use calls to action. Tell users exactly what you want them to do after watching your ad: subscribe, engage or watch more.
  • Give users time to take action. The last ten seconds or more of your video should give users time to click. Create a static call to action in an end-card.
  • Give your video ad a real title. Ad titles are visible to the user, so don't call it an ad. Use this space to double-down on your call to action and name it something like subscribe to my channel.
  • Upload a compelling thumbnail. Use clear, interesting and creative thumbnails to entice users to click on your video ad.

Optimize Your Ad Campaign

While each campaign is unique, these best practices can help you leverage paid media to ignite earned media in the most cost-effective way.

What are the best campaign tactics to promote new videos?

Start your paid media campaign with a "blast" TrueView campaign that reaches a broad target audience in the first three to five days after uploading a new video.

Because you don't pay if a user chooses to skip your TrueView video ad, there's little financial risk. This approach allows you to promote your content to a wide potential audience and helps the video surface in natural search, which will kickstart organic views.

Then switch to a more targeted approach. Use remarketing to reach users who've already visited your channel and continue to earn new views at an optimized cost.

How does a brand target specific audiences with TrueView?

  • Topic and Affinity targeting. Is your audience interested in certain subjects? Topic targeting allows you to show your ad on topic-specific channels. Similarly, Affinity targeting allows you to show your ad only to users with particular interests. If, for example, you sell kitchen supplies, you can target YouTube users who watch food videos.
  • Use video remarketing to target people who've shown interest in your brand or content. You can show ads to users who have viewed, liked or commented on your videos or visited your website. AdWords'™ custom combinations feature allows you to target, for example, users who have viewed your video but who have not yet purchased your products. The combinations are endless.

Choose the Right Promotion for Each Content Type

Intent-based vehicles for help content

Help content answers main search queries related to your brand or category. Promote this content with always-on campaigns that make sure users see your ad when searching. TrueView in-display is especially well-adapted to help content.

In-display ads are a tailored, "hand raiser" format in which the advertiser accurately answers the very question a potential customer is asking.

Targeted ads for hub content

Hub content is regular, scheduled content that gives users a reason to return to your channel on a regular basis. Promote this content using in-stream ads targeted to the audience potentially most interested in your content.

If your hub content deals with specific subjects, select topic targeting or interest targeting for your ads. You can also use video remarketing to target users who'™ve already shown interest in your content, such as viewing or liking your previous videos.

You can use TrueView in-stream ads or reserved in-stream ads. Both run before a video, but when you reserve in-stream ads, you can choose whether or not you want users to be able to skip your ad. In this case, you pay ahead of time per impression (rather than per "chosen" view).

Orchestrate a multi-channel campaign for hero content

When you need to drive a high volume of traffic to a one-of-a- kind hero event, you may want to complement your targeted TrueView promotion effort with reservation-based ads.

Reservation-based ads are a good fit for brands that need a guaranteed number of impressions within a specific time frame. The following formats allow you to reach a large audience and pay up front.

Leverage mastheads and mobile

The YouTube masthead is the dominant spot on the YouTube homepage and can be booked for 24 hours. It is a very powerful way to announce a hero event and reach a massive national audience. The cross-screen masthead runs on both YouTube desktop and mobile.


If you want to drive a specific audience to an event, consider combining video remarketing with TrueView. For example, if you want to target women who have previously engaged with your content to drive them to a fashion week event, use TrueView ads targeting women who have watched your videos or visited your website.

Turn Viewers Into Subscribers

Are you generating lots of views but not a lot of subscriptions? Turn these one-off viewers into long-term channel fans. Our internal data show that when subscribers view your content, they watch for twice as long as users who watch your content but are not subscribed to your channel.


  • Create a remarketing list of all users who have viewed a channel video.
  • Create another list of all users who have subscribed to your channel.
  • Combine these lists in a "œcustom combination" that targets all viewers who have viewed a video but are not yet subscribers.


Create a channel trailer in which you remind your viewers why they watched your videos in the first place, and include a very clear call to action to subscribe. Promote this trailer as a TrueView in-stream ad.


To drive subscriptions with your in-stream ad, use this as your destination url: user=[insert your channel here].

Measure Your Results

Measuring with AdWords for video

To unlock key campaign performance metrics in Adwords for video, link your Adwords and YouTube accounts. Then, in AdWords for video, enable the "audience" columns to see the number of:

  • Earned views. The number of videos a user watched after having seen your ad.
  • Follow-on subscribers. The number of users who subscribed after having seen your video ad.

Other success metrics are available in Adwords for video, including conversion, reach, frequency and website clicks.

Measuring with YouTube Analytics

Visit the "Traffic Sources" report in YouTube Analytics to see how much of your channel's viewership is coming from your advertising efforts.


  • Implement a solid, targeted promotional plan to accelerate your audience building. Ignite earned media by leveraging paid media.
  • Use the TrueView ad format to put your content in front of the most interested audience. You will only pay when someone watches your video.
  • Target your ads broadly at first. Narrow your reach (using custom combinations) after you've gathered data about who's watching you.
  • Optimize your video for paid promotion using our tips.
  • Turn viewers into subscribers to maximize your channel's watch time.
  • Measure your success! Gather data in YouTube Analytics and AdWords for video.