How to build a YouTube video ad campaign on Google AdWords in 3 simple steps

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Are you about to create an online video ad campaign? This is a complete step-by-step guide to do so from the Google AdWords platform in 3 simple steps.

You can create an online video campaign to target YouTube and other sites from Google AdWords itself, but the whole system has been revamped (well, Google is constantly revamping everything, so no surprises here) so in this post we will explain all you need to know to build and run this type of campaign taking into account the latest changes in AdWords.

We have recently been involved in a number of video-related projects, one of them required us to build a YouTube video ad campaign for one of our clients. I thought I’d write this post to clarify how to do this since things have changed in the last few months.

You can run multiple video ad types, including two main format categories: in-stream and in-display ads.

– In-stream (pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll) ads are inserted before, during or after the main video.

– In-display ads appear alongside other YouTube videos, or on websites that match your target audience.

These are all the video ad types that you can run on YouTube and other third party sites:

YouTube advertising formats

Source: YouTube (

So let’s get started: these are the 3 simple steps that you need to take to have your online video ad campaign ready to go:

1. Set up the campaign. First step, create an online video campaign by clicking on the “All video campaigns” option located at the bottom left of the AdWords menu, and then clicking on the “+ CAMPAIGN” button. Alternatively just create the video campaign by just clicking on the “+ CAMPAIGN” button to create a regular new campaign and then select “Online video”.

YouTube Online Video Ad Campaign Guide

Either way, you will get to the same screen shown below. Here just fill out the fields with the right information. If you are an AdWords user you will already be familiarised with most of the required fields such as “Campaign name”, “Daily budget” and “Delivery method”. When you reach the “Networks” field you will find something new, two unknown options, if this is the first time you create a online video campaign: YouTube Search and YouTube Videos, and the Google Display Network within the latest.

– The YouTube Search network includes results for search queries, and can run only TrueView in-display video ads. All targeting settings apply, except for placements.

– The YouTube Videos network (that is, channels and videos on YouTube, or embedded videos) can run TrueView in-display and in-stream ad formats. You can define placements and other targeting settings.

– The Google Display Network (GDN) is a collection of websites that partner with Google, YouTube and other specific Google properties with ad units on their pages. The GDN can run all TrueView ad formats (in-display and in-stream).

As per the next two options, “Locations” and “Languages”, nothing new here, as a regular AdWords user you already know how this works.

YouTube Online Video Ad Campaign Guide 2

2. Create your ad. The last field on the screen above is the “Video ad”, and this is marked as optional since you can ad your video later on once the campaign is built. To include your video ad just search for your video in the blank field or paste the URL from YouTube. If you want to leave this for later just click on “Save and continue”. If you want to do this now, search for your video and once you have found and selected it, you will see some more options.

In these extended options, the first field is “Ad format”, where you can choose between using default video ad formats or using video ad formats optimised for mobile app promotion: the following options will vary depending on what you select here, and this will obviously depend on how you want to run the campaign and your target audience.

If you select to use video ad formats optimised for mobile app promotion, then you will only be able to use in-stream ads for mobile app promotion, and you will need to select your mobile app at this point. But if you select to use default video ad formats then you will see the screen below and will be able to use both in-stream and in-display ad formats:

YouTube Online Video Ad Campaign Guide 3

When filling out the fields for the in-stream ads just include your Display URL, Destination URL and a companion banner. The companion banner can be created and uploaded by you or alternatively you can choose to use an auto generated image from videos in your channel, which is the recommended option by Google, since the auto-generated images offer an easier integration into different platforms, both desktops and mobile devices.

When filling out the fields for the in-display ads create the ad headline and description lines, just as you would do with a regular AdWords text ad. Same character extension limits apply: 25-35-35. When people click your in-display ad, they can either land on your YouTube channel page or on the YouTube page where the video can be played and watched, so you will need to select one of those two options as a landing page.

Lastly, name your ad and you are good to go. Click on “Save and continue”.

If this is the first time you are using the video campaigns platform in AdWords you will probably see a short tour that will guide you through the functionalities and possibilities of the new system at this point.

3. Select bidding and targeting. Next step is to create a targeting group. You will need to name your targeting group and select a maximum cost per view, which is the highest price you are willing to bid for someone to view your video when it is run as an ad.

You can influence your ad’s position by setting its maximum cost-per-view (CPV) bid. This bid is the highest amount that you’re willing to pay when someone watches your ad. You need to provide a default bid per targeting group: this is nothing new, just like providing a default bid for any standard AdWords ad group. You also have the option to adjust the bid for each video ad format. After you provide your initial bid, you can change it again as often as you want.

Next you will need to refine your targeting: by default your ads will show to all viewers, but you can refine your audience by filtering by demographics, interests, topics, keywords, placements or remarketing (targeting users who already visited your site previously).

YouTube Online Video Ad Campaign Guide 4

So this is it! You are ready to go with your online video ads campaign. Good luck with it and please feel free to leave any comments you have in this post below!

By Iñigo Etxebeste


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Author: Iñigo Etxebeste

Iñigo is the director and founder of Gloc Media. He keeps our ship moving in the right direction.

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