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The Mathematically Challenged Guide to Advertising on YouTube

By Anthony Hardman, Director of PR

As a PR pro, one of my responsibilities is advising my clients on social media strategy, and with the recent news of Facebook’s pay to play model, I also need to understand how advertising on social media can further owned messaging. This is called media convergence.

Recently, we identified a client, who could benefit from advertising on YouTube for an upcoming campaign. The only problem is, I was unfamiliar with advertising on YouTube, and Google’s explanations didn’t make it easier.

So after several hours of weeding through Google web copy and various blog posts, I gained enough understanding to put together this post, which will hopefully help answer your questions as well.

Without further ado, the best guide you will find for advertising on YouTube (for PR pros and the mathematically challenged).  

Why advertise on YouTube?

Video viewing is up and continues to increase as people subscribe to YouTube channels and discover amazing new cat videos that they just can’t get enough of (I’m only kidding, well half kidding).

According to YouTube, over six billion hours of video are watched each month on the video search engine (up 50 percent over last year), and 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

In addition, Google has now integrated their YouTube ad targeting with Google Ad Words, so organizations can display ads across three different networks:

  • 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.

How do Ads display?

TrueView Video is the name Google gave to YouTube advertising, and each ad can display in a variety of formats. For a quick overview of format options, click the video below, or read each format description.

Google Adwords

In-search – Choose the search terms you want your ad to appear next to on YouTube, or in Google video results. When someone clicks, they are taken to your channel and the feature video plays. This option gives viewers the opportunity to explore other videos in your channel at no additional cost. You can also overlay a call to action, which leads customers to a specific landing page on your website.  


In-display – Your ads show up alongside suggested videos on YouTube, or websites across Google’s network. When someone clicks, they are taken to your channel, just like using the in-search option. 


In-stream – Your ad will play before a viewers selected video. After five seconds the viewer can skip the ad, but if they skip you’re not charged for a view. You are only charged if they watch 30 seconds or more.

In-slate – These ads appear before videos on YouTube that are over ten minutes long. Viewers can choose to watch one of three ads before their chosen video begins, or include all three as commercial breaks.

The best way to reach your audience is by selecting all of the offered formats. Best of all, they are automatically optimized for mobile, and the formats you select don’t affect your overall budget.

one billion

One-billion dollars! Muhahaha . . . 

Actually, it’s completely up to you. Google allows you to manage your budget with a daily cap, which is your total daily budget, as well as a bid budget, which is the amount you’re willing to bid for clicks within your daily budget. 

Total Daily Budget

Brace yourself, math is coming.

Set a budget that allows your ads to run enough to meet your goals by taking the average cost-per-click and multiplying that number by the number of clicks you want each day.

So for example, if you want 100 clicks per day, and the average click costs $0.15, your budget would be $15 per day.

(Desired Clicks) X (Average Cost) = Daily Budget

Google recommends setting a maximum budget of $10 – $50 a day for new advertisers, which runs around $305 – $1,525 per month.

To find out how much you will spend over the length of a campaign, just multiply your daily budget by the total number of days.

(Daily Budget) X (Length of Campaign) = Maximum Cost

The good news is that your total costs may actually be lower, depending on how you set your bid budget. 

Bid Budget

Again, think of your daily budget like a total cap, you can’t spend more than what you set per day. Bid budgets are how much you are willing to pay for a click, within that cap. The higher you set your bid budget, the more clicks you will get, but your daily budget will also run out more quickly.

Set a bid budget somewhere in the middle of Google’s suggestions for minimum and maximum spend. That way you are earning valuable clicks, but you’re not spending the entire daily budget in a matter of hours.

Reaching Your Audience

Google gives you a variety of ways to target your desired audience when setting up a video ad campaign.

Those options include:

  • Demographics targeting – age/gender
  • Location
  • Language
  • Interests
  • Topics
  • Time of day (set the times you want your ads to run)
  • Remarketing lists (target viewers based on their past interactions with your YouTube channel)
  • And Keywords


Note: If you target by age and gender, as well as keywords, you are restricting your audience to those parameters. This means that if you want to target men ages 18-35, and the keywords optical fiber, you will restrict your audience to men between that age range who search for those keywords.


Google also allows you to optimize video based on your goals. You can optimize for views, or conversions.

Optimizing for views allows you to show your ad when it’s expected to provide more overall views.

Optimizing for conversions lets you display your ad at when it’s expected to provide more conversions.

Additionally, you can set your campaign to rotate evenly so you get the best of both worlds.

At the end of the day

Google Ad Words for Video is a great way to promote your marketing campaign to a targeted audience in a way that meets your goals and your budget. And if you’re still confused, just give us a call.  

Topics: Social Media