Youtube has staggering statistics: 30 million daily visitors consuming 5 billion videos each day. Despite all those attentive eyeballs, it’s pretty rare to hear success stories about people doing PPC on Youtube.


Why is this the case? An immense number of users are present (1.5 billion active monthly) and engaged (3.25 billion hours watched monthly). So why are so few advertisers seeing profitable returns on their Youtube ad spend?

It turns out that despite all the marketing opportunity on Youtube, there are some tough roadblocks to deal with. As we decided to fully understand (and overcome) the prominent barriers preventing major PPC success on Youtube, we pinpointed 3 main challenges:

  • Missing CTAs: Not every Youtube video ad has a Call to Action (CTA) option. CTAs usually appear at the end of Pre-Roll ads as ‘End Cards’, which are a weak form of CTA - if they appear at all. Advertisers can only show End Card CTAs if they are accepted into the ‘Youtube Partner Program’ after a pre-approval process.
  • Risky Business: Creating a quality video ad is more expensive, time consuming, and requires greater expertise and equipment than banner ads. Hence, not only are video ads a bigger investment, their performance success is completely unguaranteed.
  • Basic Bids: Google offers far fewer bidding options for Youtube ads compared to the GDN. Bids cannot be adjusted, and only ‘Views’ can be optimized for as a target.

After much trial, error and analysis, we’re now performing prosperously on Youtube across many client accounts. On one account alone, we spent $2.2 million within 3 months after opening it, buying 54 million unique views below our target CPA. Thanks to the low costs Youtube charges for ads, we were getting relevant Cost Per Views (CPVs) of $0.01!

So, how did we do it? We’re happy to share. We narrowed down our Youtube success to these eight steps you can apply to your own Youtube marketing.


Our 8 Steps to Youtube Ad Success:

1)  Length: Create a good quality (but not too complex) video ad around 30 seconds long, even though Youtube recommends just 6 seconds. This ties into Step 2.

2)  TrueView: Exclusively use Youtube’s TrueView. TrueView only charges for the ads interacted with, shown in full, or if at least 30 seconds played. TrueView also gives you the option to show ‘proper’ CTAs at the bottom on the video (though a CTA is still not guaranteed, depending on other variables).

3)  Topics: We filtered through mounds of junk traffic in order to find the 30% of video ‘Topics’ that work and are of interest to our target niche. Targeting those topics is essential for campaigns to have a chance of success. If you see repeated topic themes, incorporate them within your ads - you now know they’re obviously of interest and probably also currently trending for your target audience.

4)  Bids: Generally, very narrow Demographic Targeting demands high bids to win auctions. However, on Youtube you can bid low - even for highly specific demographics ($0.01 - $0.02/CPV). Begin with wide targeting, and once you identify your customer, create campaigns that target them specifically.

5)  Target: Use data from steps 3 and 4 to identify exactly which videos performed best for your goals. Then create campaigns targeting just those specific video ‘placements’.

6)  Timing: Only run your ads during the most profitable hours of the day. Running campaigns during the wrong hours is a sure way to lose money on good quality traffic.

7)  Test: Youtube advertisers seem to test less than on GDN, possibly because their past results don’t justify big testing budgets. Make it a priority to test on Youtube, it’ll pay off. Learning leads to success!

8)  Segment: As the numbers start to roll in, look for the clear segments and trends and then split them into their own unique campaigns. Tweak ad messages as necessary, to speak more directly to each segment\ trend.


We’re not suggesting that you’ll be able to profitably spend millions on Youtube ads within the first few months like us; we have years of experience which allow us to spend large marketing budgets and still be able to sleep at night. We strongly recommend you start small, but begin advertising on Youtube right away to get your audience data gleaning going. Also, apply for the Youtube Partner Program immediately so you can display ‘End Card’ CTAs to your audience as you start advertising on Youtube. Utilize these performance techniques and methods, and you’ll successfully achieve high ROIs with Youtube ads. Happy marketing!