Neil Patel

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How to Optimize a YouTube Ad Campaign


YouTube Ads are a powerful method of generating awareness and revenue for your business.

Gatorade, for example, managed to earn $13.50 for every $1 that they spent on YouTube Ads.

YouTube Ads can be so effective, in fact, that even offline sales can benefit, with YouTube reporting that 78% of TrueView campaigns lead to an offline sales lift.

And it’s no wonder. The social media giant has over a billion users. Over 4 billion videos are viewed daily. 66% of people identify themselves as visual learners, and, by the end of 2017, it’s estimated that three-quarters of all content consumed on the web will be video content.

This is excellent news for video marketing geniuses. For others? It’s a whole new world.

You may have already run some YouTube Ad campaigns and found some level of success.

But, if your YouTube Ad campaigns have plateaued, you might not be sure what needs to be done so that your campaign can reach the next level.

You’ll be happy to know that by optimizing your campaign, you’ll be able to broaden your reach to your target audience, boost your search results and increase your conversion rate.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at what steps you need to take to optimize your YouTube campaign.

We’ll break down how you can do this in a systematic way, so that you don’t feel overwhelmed.

By the end of this post, you’ll understand how to make the most of your YouTube ad campaigns so that you too can feel like a video marketing genius.

Let’s begin.

Review your stats and understand what they’re telling you

The first step that you’ll want to take is reviewing the stats of your video ads to see how well they are currently performing.

When it comes to YouTube Ads, there are many metrics that can help you focus on what needs to be improved.

Just take a look at the list below


However, for now, there are really only two metrics that you’ll want to pay close attention to.

The ‘View Rate’ of your ads and the ‘Click-through rate.’

You can view these metrics by clicking on the ‘Videos’ section, within your AdWords account.


Note: If you can’t see CTR, when reviewing your video ads, then do the following:

Click on the ‘Columns’ drop-down menu. Find ‘CTR’ and then click ‘Add.’


When you see it, move it over to the opposite column and click ‘Save.’


It should then be visible as another column, when reviewing your video ads.


View Rate lets you know how many people watched your online video, in relation to how many people it was actually served to.

View Rate is an important metric, because it can let us figure out a number of things.

First, it can help you determine if your ad targeting is effective.

After all, if people find that your ad is irrelevant, they’re going to be much more likely to skip it. Therefore, a low View Rate can potentially mean that you’re showing your ad to people who don’t comprise your target audience–or simply don’t care for it.

View rate can also let you work out how compelling your video content is.

It might be the case that your targeting is, in fact, quite effective and that it is the video content itself that is causing lackluster View Rates.

This, of course, is an issue that cannot be ignored. If your online video is no good, then no amount of tinkering with anything else is going to bring you better results.

It is important that you address a poor video ad as soon as possible, as not doing so is going to result in you having a much harder time successfully advertising on YouTube.

If you want to learn more about creating stronger video content for your YouTube ads, you can check out my guide here.

The key thing to keep in mind, of course, is that your online video needs to build curiosity and provide value at the same time. Read my guide and watch other YouTube Ads, to see how this can be done.

Remember, you only have five seconds before someone decides to click on the ‘Skip’ button. You need to capture attention and build curiousity, right away, if you want people to stick around.

If you know your target audience well, it shouldn’t be hard to work out what will grab and sustain their attention.

If, during the start of the video, you can mention that you have a solution to one of their biggest pain points, they’ll most likely want to keep watching.

If you’re struggling with ideas for video content–and how your video should progress–you can always use the script below.


The script above is what I used, when creating an explainer video for Crazy Egg. Later, I used it as an ad.

Note: Improving your View Rate isn’t just a vanity metric, either. A good View Rate can actually influence Google, so that your ad performs better, while also making it cheaper to run.

If your video has a good View Rate, it shows the search engine that you’re creating a good user experience.

As a result, Google will ensure that your ad wins more ‘auctions’ and that your ‘cost per view’ is lower.


The other metric that plays a big role is Click-through rate.

Click-through rates let you know how many people clicked on your ad, in relation to how many people saw it.

If your CTR is high, it lets you know that your ad is effective at generating interest and action.

People are watching your ad and clicking to learn more or to take advantage of any offer that the ad mentions.

A high CTR also lets you know that your ad targeting is effective.  

If your ad is being shown to your target audience, then there’s a good chance that those people will connect with your ad and click on it.

On the other hand, if you find that your ad CTR is low, then it’s probably a matter of improving your ad targeting.

You may need to make some adjustments to the method that you’re using and the way that you’re utilizing it.

So, if you’re using keyword targeting, consider changing your keywords, for example.

A low CTR can also mean that your ad simply doesn’t encourage action.

It’s often a good idea to assume that people need to be told what to do.

If you think that people are just going to take an action that you want them to – you’re going to end up wasting a lot of money.

Make sure that you include a clear call-to-action in your online videos, to ensure that people know what needs to be done next. Show them how they can take advantage of what was discussed in the ad.

You may even want to take advantage of the CTA overlay feature that’s provided by YouTube.

If you want to do that, log into your AdWords account. Then, go to the ‘Campaigns’ dashboard.

Click on ‘Videos.’


Scroll down to the video that you want to modify. Click the drop-down menu that’s next to ‘Analytics’ and select ‘Edit Call to Action.’


Then, go about writing a compelling call-to-action.


Note: It’s often helpful to view CTR and View Rate, in the context of each other and in relative terms.

Most of the time, you’ll find that both your View Rate and CTR will be low, at the same time. However, in some cases, one might be relatively high and the other low.

If your CTR is relatively high (meaning it’s above average, in spite of a low View Rate), but your view rate is low, then you need to work on improving the first 5-10 seconds of your video content.

You may find that some of your target audience happens to stick around for a little longer. In doing so, they probably end up seeing the value in what your ad offers and engage, thereby producing a higher CTR.

If you find that your View Rate is high, but your CTR is relatively low, it may be that your ad needs to demonstrate–in a clearer and more compelling fashion–that it can solve the problem your target audience has.

If you’ve just created an ad that is entertaining, but not persuasive, you’ll often find this to be the case.

And, of course, you can also have a low CTR if you fail to make it obvious what people need to do next, as I mentioned above.

Identify opportunities and adjust your bidding accordingly

Making adjustments to your bidding strategy can also help you optimize your video marketing campaign so that it produces greater results.

How you go about things here will depend on your current results.

If you think that you have done all that you can to create great video content while also taking care of targeting issues and you’re still not seeing results, then you might want to raise your bids.

You can do this by adjusting the Max CPV for your Ad Groups that contain video ads.

To do that, click on ‘Ad Groups.’


Then, find the Ad Groups that contain your video ads, click on the Max. CPV section and increase those bids.


Bear in mind that this isn’t so much a technique to optimize a campaign, as it is to find something that you can optimize.

By raising your bids, you’re ensuring that your ads will get ample exposure and hence collect data.

You need to monitor this data closely and cut any ads or Ad Groups that aren’t performing.

When reviewing existing Ad Groups that are producing favorable results, you’ll often find that one targeting method is disproportionately driving better results than the others.

When you see this happen, you need to make the most out of it.

Note: Make sure that you set up conversion tracking for your campaign. If you do, you can easily work out which targeting methods are driving your conversion rate. You can learn how to set up conversion tracking here.

Here’s how you can find out if there is a targeting method producing disproportionate results and how you can take advantage of such success.

First, pick an Ad Group that contains your video ads and then click on the ‘Video targeting tab.’


Then, pick the targeting method that you’re using for this Ad Group.


Sort your targeting options by ‘Conversions.’

You should then be able to see which targeting option is driving the highest conversion rate for you.

It might, for example, be a certain keyword or a particular placement.

If you want to, you can also use the ‘Cost / conv.’ column, to help you identify what’s driving the most conversions at the lowest price.

When you find something that is producing disproportionate results, go to the Max CPV. section and raise the bid.


When you’re done, click ‘Save.’

Advertising can be a fickle thing and you’ll want to reap the benefits when you have a winning ad on your hands. It would be a bad idea to assume that you have time to do it at some later date.

Waiting around might lead to competitors driving up your ad costs, as they attempt to replicate your success.

Something unforeseen might also happen and it might change your ability to benefit. If you’re using Placement targeting, a certain video might disable monetization, for example.

Take risks and experiment

Optimizing ads is something that you should always do.

However, when optimizing ads, you’re often working on improving something that has mediocre results and hoping you’ll develop better results after optimization.

Though it’s good to have an ad that is consistently generating results, you should always be willing to experiment with video content, while also taking care of the campaigns that are already producing results.

That means that you should always have one or two ads running where you’re simply testing things out.

If you have an online video ad that is working at the moment, consider creating another ad that does the complete opposite of what you think makes the winning ad group work.

Make the video ad exceptionally short, or long. Remove the CTA, add music or remove music–and so on and so on.

If YouTube releases a new targeting feature, give it a go and see what happens.

If there are some existing targeting features that you have yet to use, try them out and see what you can achieve.

When you do things this way, you’ll uncover incredible insights that are often hard to come by with logical thinking or by reading a blog post.


YouTube advertising isn’t the easiest form of advertising out there. Even after the steep learning curve, you’ll often find that it takes some optimization to get your video marketing campaign heading in the right direction.

But to ignore the potential this social media giant has for your business would be a huge oversight.

The best way to optimize campaigns is by reviewing the stats produced from your existing campaigns.  Then, make educated decisions, in terms of what needs to be improved.

You need to quickly identify anything that is working, so that you can double down and get the best possible returns, while the ad is working well–whether it’s the position of the banner ad or the quality of your video content.

And, as you’re doing all of this, you’ll want to run some experiments, where you’re simply watching what happens when you do things in an unconventional way.

In doing so, you’ll learn more about how YouTube advertising works. But, you’ll also possibly reveal some interesting insights that will shape–and improve–future performance.

Give your video marketing campaigns a once over and see if there’s anything that you can do to optimize them for the better.

Do you have any tips you can share in terms of optimizing a YouTube campaign? Please share them below!

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