Google Adwords Video Ads: The Ultimate Guide

Adwords video ads presents a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs to reach new customers on Youtube with over 1 billion active users.

It consistently outperforms other social networking sites in terms of conversions rate making it a great place to start with video advertising: the average conversion rate on YouTube is 14%, whereas it’s just 10% on Facebook.

Although the platform might seem daunting you don’t need to be a talented movie producer to create great Adwords video ads that converts.

Video ads are a one of the best way to engage your audience making it popular among marketers. In 2015 the state of digital report found that 76% of business users used video, making it the most popular format


Video can be big too for retailers! (surprisingly)

A Google consumer survey also discovere,d that one in every five (18 to 24-year-olds) say they go to YouTube to figure out what products or items are “cool” to purchase.

Retailers can use Adwords video ads to display a CTA (“Click To Shop” vs. “Shop Now”, etc.) as well as the products mentioned in the video to drive retail sales.

Now your excited about what video ads can do for your business, let me tell you what we are going to cover today.

In this guide i’m going to show you the 4 different Youtube ad formats that you need to start running, 4 killer tips to help you get ahead of the competition and finally how to set up your own Google Video ads campaign.

4 Different Adwords Video Ad Formats on Youtube

There are 4 different types of Adwords video ads format that appear in different locations on the Youtube Platform.

They can show up on the YouTube homepage, search results pages, and as related videos on YouTube video watch pages.

Search Results Pages 

This ad format appears within Youtube’s search results as shown below.


Related video page ads

This ad format appears alongside the related videos in the right hand sidebar.


Skippable in stream adverts 

In stream adverts appear before, during or after a youtube video is played. These ads give you the option to skip the ad after 5 seconds. Here is an example of Grammarly using an in stream advert.


No Skippable In Stream Ads

Non skippable ads, can like in stream ads play before, after or during another video on Youtube. Here is an example of a non skippable video.

Non skippable videos will also appear in the middle of videos on youtube that are more than 10 minutes in length,


4 Top Tips for Getting the most out of Adwords Video Ads

Knowing how to setup Adwords video ads is one thing, implementing a strong strategy so that you generate a strong return on investment is another.

This next section will walk you through 7 effective strategies for generating more profit from Adwords Video Ads.

1) Include A Strong Call To Action

Like text or image ads a strong call to action is key to success with Adwords Video Ads to tell users what action to take next.

You could link to a landing page, product page, information page, career page… whatever you’d like.

To get the best results we would suggest you tell users to click on your video and also give a visual cue to click to maximise the number of people who click through to your landing page.

Here is an example of Marieforleo using a call to action to tell users to subscribe. If you were however looking to drive traffic to your website you may instead want to tell users to click through on to your website.

2) Use a custom thumbnail image

Using custom thumbnail images  are a great way to entice more people to click on your Adwords video ads.

Make sure that your thumbnail will be clear on all devices. If you are using text make it big and concise so it can be read easily.

If you have a product then make sure that it is clear what it is and there are no distractions in the background.

Here are some great examples from the King of SEO Brian dean.

3) Test different video lengths

When it comes to Adwords video ads, how long is too long?

Research by Wistia shows that videos that are between 1 and 30 seconds are the most likely to get viewed to the end with over 80% of users watching the full video.

If your videos are over 30 seconds and your call to action is at the end of the video expect to see around a 5% drop in people seeing your call to action.



Depending on the type of video, you will want to use different lengths:

  • Tutorials / Explainers (45 – 90 Secs)  is long enough to make your crowd be interested in what your product does and get a sense of feeling how it works.
  • Creative commercials (15-30 secs) Keept them short and sweet!
  • Testimonial videos (60 – 120 secs) These want to be long enough to allow you to show case several customers talking about your product but not too long so that they loose interest.

When it comes to TrueView ads, if the ad is under 30 seconds, you pay only if a viewer watches until the end.

If the ad is longer than 30 seconds, you pay if the viewer watches it for at least 30 seconds. In both cases, you pay if the viewer interacts with your ad before it’s over.

You may want to put messaging at a certain point so uninterested viewers can skip the ad, or you might provide special offers towards the end of the video.

4) Split test your Adwords video ads

Just like you would run split tests with two different text or image ads you need to do the same with video ads.

At any time when you are running your Adwords video ads campaign make sure that you have at least 2 adverts within each ad group.

When you are split testing don’t alway focus on the number of views, instead look at business metrics such as the number of conversions generated and at what cost to maximise profitability.

How To Setup Adwords Video Ads

There are three main steps to setting up a successful Adwords video ads campings:

  1. Link Your Adwords Account to your Youtube channel
  2. Creating a video campaign within your Adwords account.
  3. Selecting where your videos will be shown (targeting settings)
  4. Uploading your video ads.

1) Link your Youtube Account to your Adwords account

The first stage of the process is to link your Adwords account and Youtube account together.

Your YouTube channel and AdWords accounts will still remain separate entities, in other words if you have access to your Youtube channel you can’t create ads within Adwords.

STEP 1. Log in to your YouTube channel

STEP 2. Click the “My Channel” tab after clicking on the channel icon.

STEP 3. Click “Advanced” under the channel page.

STEP 4. You will see a “Link an AdWords Account” button on the page. Click this link to finish the process.

2) Creating a video campaign within your Adwords account

STEP 1. Click the red +Campaign button and then from the dropdown select “video”.

STEP 2. Give your campaign a suitable name so that you can easily find it when you come to optimising your campings and then select your objective of your campaign.

When it comes to choosing an objective you have three options to choose from. You will then need to choose the most suitable one for what you are looking to advertise.

  • Standard: Driving views, awareness and conversions (such as a lead or purchase)
  • Mobile App Installs: Video as that are designed to encourage people to install your mobile app
  • Shopping ads: These ads are designed to encourage people to buy products listed in your Google Merchant Centre account. (to use this you must have your Google Merchant Centre account linked to your Adwords account).

Step 3. Once you have selected an option you will have to select what type of adverts that you want to run, here you have two options.

You can either run ads:

  • In-Stream: These are a type of true view video ads. These either appear at the start, during or after of a video and can be skipped after 5 seconds. They also appear in the search results on Youtube, alongside related videos and on the homepage.
  • Bumper ads: Bumper ads like In-stream can appear at the start, during or after a video. They must best 6 seconds long or less and users do not have the option to skip this type of advert.

STEP 4. Next comes setting a bidding method and your budget. When it comes to your bidding method of choice you have two options that you can choose from:

  • Manual: Maximum CPV: This is where you set a maximum amount that you are willing to pay for a view.
  • Manual: Maximum CPM: This is where you set a maximum amount that you are willing to pay for your ads to be shown 1000 times.

STEP 5. Most advertisers will now want to change their delivery method from standard to accelerated to show their ads as quickly as possible.

STEP 6. Next select where you want your Google Video ads to run, here you have three options.

  • Youtube Search: Your video ads will be displayed as a result within Google’s search results.
  • Youtube Videos: Your video ads will be displayed at the start, during or after Youtube videos.
  • Video Partners on the Google Display Network: Your video ads will be shown on the GDN.

STEP 7. Finally select the location that you want your video ads to be shown in and you will have completed the first stage of setting up a successful Google Video Ads campaign.

3) Creating Your Adwords Video Ads and Setting Your Bid

Once you have created your first ad group then you will need to select your ad and targeting options. Here you will be prompted to create your first advert.

To create subsequent adverts you will need to use the ad tab, like you would to create any other format of Adwords ad.

STEP 1. Paste the URL of your Youtube video into the box provided and then select whether your advert will appear in-stream or if it will appear within the search results (video discovery ads).

Depending on if you have selected In-stream ad or Video discovery ads the next few steps will be slightly different.

In-Stream ads

If you opted to create an in-stream Adwords video ads then your adverts will look like this and there are 3 subsequent steps that you need to take.

STEP 2(a): Enter the display URL (this is the url that people will see in the bottom left hand corner of your advert) and a Final URL which is the web page that users will be re-directed to once they have clicked on your ad.

STEP 2(b): You should now create a companion banner advert that will appear alongside your video advert in the top right hand corner.

Instead of using an auto generated image we would suggest creating your own and uploading it to increase the number of people that will click on it.

The banner should be 300 x 60 pixels in size.

STEP 2(c): Give your advert a simple clear name so that you can find it easily.

Video discovery ads

If you have instead opted to create video discovery ads then you will want to take the following steps instead.

STEP 2(a): First select a thumbnail that will become the image alongside your advert.

STEP 2(b): Secondly write your ad copy that will appear within Youtube’s search results. You will want to encourage users to view your video as I have done in the example ad copy above.

STEP 2(c): You will then need to decide what the aim of your video is, whether it be to drive users to your Youtube channel or if you want to get them to watch your video on your Youtube Channel and select the right option accordingly.

STEP 2(d): Finally give your advert a simple clear name so that you can find it easily.

STEP 3. Once you have created your advert you next need to select how much you are willing to pay per view or per thousand impressions.

Generally your bids should be low on Video ads compared to your search campaigns with the average around £0.05 to £0.15 in most cases.

You can choose if you wish to select a popular bid adjustment that will increase your bids for the best performing content.

4) Select Where Your Video Ads Will Be Shown (targeting)

There is a wide range of different options that are available to you on the Google Display Network. Here are the 6 types of targeting option that you can use:

  • Demographic targeting
  • Interest targeting
  • Keyword targeting
  • Placement targeting
  • Remarketing (also referred to as retargeting)
  • Topic targeting

It is also possible to overlap different targeting methods to reach the most relevant audience.

For example if you want to target people who were interested in bond investing that were between 30 and 65 you could use display keywords to target people who are visiting pages relating to bond investing and then overlap this with demographic targeting to target people who are interested in bond investing and are between age 30 and 65.

Display Keywords

Display Keyword allow you to place your video on websites that are contextually similar to your keywords. Unlike the search network there are no match types.

If you were for example were advertising bonds like one of our clients was, you will want to add closely related terms such as “bond investing”, “investment bonds” etc.

Google then places your ads on website that its algorithm has determines are related to those keywords

Because you are giving Google a lot of discretion of where your ads will be placed it is important that you check your automatic placement reports regularly and exclude any irrelevant or poor performing placements.

You can select keywords to target by entering them into the box on the left and then selecting “add keywords”

To identify new keywords you can select “find relevant keywords” or for more advanced users you could use the Google Display Network Planner.

Topic Targeting

Topic targeting allows you to display adverts on websites that Google has already grouped into relevant buckets.

For example for the bond advertising client we targeted people in the category Finance > Investing > Stocks & Bonds > Bonds.

If you want to save time searching through them you can find a list of topic codes here.

You have too different targeting options:

  • Target and Bid. This allows you to show your ads on this placement irrespective of your other target methods
  • Bid Only. This allows you to add the placement so that you can bid on them and your ads will only be shown when your other targeting methods match too. Think overlapping audiences.

Demographic Targeting

Demographic targeting allows you to target people based on:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Parental status

When using this feature make sure that you base your decisions on data as opposed to gut feeling.

A study by Think With Google showed that 40% of baby products are purchased by households that don’t contain parents.

If you were to exclude non parents here you would exclude 40% of your target audience.

When it comes to the Unknown demographic where Google is unable to match users with their data you will not want to exclude this is most cases.

We have often found that Google is unable to match large proportions in some campaigns so by excluding this demographic you are likely to loose a large amount of relevant traffic.

Interests and Remarketing

Interest and remarketing comprise several different type of targeting:

  • Remarketing (we will not cover this here as we have a detailed guide on Adwords remarketing)
  • Affinity Audiences
  • Custom Affinity Audience
  • In Market Audience
  • Customer Match
  • Similar to remarketing audience (designed for expanding the reach of your remarketing lists)
  • Similar to custom email list (designed for expanding the reach of your custom email lists)

Before drilling down into each of these different targeting options it is important to see how the fit into your wider strategy.

Here are the different stages of the buying cycle that are relevant to “affinity audiences”, “Custom affinity audiences” and “in market audiences”

  • Affinity audiences – These are allow you to target top of funnel users who are currently unaware of your brand
  • Custom affinity audiences – These are best for targeting people who are in the conservation phase that already know your brand and are considering if they need your solution
  • In-market audiences – These are best for targeting users who are displaying behaviour of purchasing


Have you ever just been on a website only to find the product that you are just looking at is now mysteriously following you around the internet?

This can be achieved by adding a piece of code to your website that allows you to track who has visited your website using cookies that you can then display ads too.

You can create audiences lists to target people who have visited certain pages on your website, have stayed on your website for a specific amount of time and a whole host of other different factors.

I won’t go into it much here as we have a very in-depth guide to remarketing that you can read here.

Affinity audiences

Affinity audiences are very high level audiences that are not particularly specific. For example you can target people who like particular brands, persons or TV show.

I woud recommend using these types of campings for branding as opposed to direct response advertising.

Custom Affinity audiences

Custom affinity audiences allow you to create audiences based on interests and websites that your audience likes.

For example, following on from our Bonds themes I have created a custom affinity audience that targets people who like the website the financial times and are interested in bonds or bond investing.

In-Market audiences

In Market audiences allow you to target people who are displaying behaviour of being close to conversion

There are several wide audience buckets that you can choose from. To use this feature effectively it is a good idea to layer it with other targeting methods.

For example going back to the bond investing client we would target people who are interested in bonds specifically using keyword targeting or topic targeting and then layer this with In-Market audiences to target people who are both interested in investing in bonds and are ready to invest soon.

Customer Match

Customer match is a slightly different targeting method that allows you to target people with ads on the Google Display Network that are on your email list.

This feature can be accessed by uploading a customer email list to Adwords. Google then matches the list to its users across its different platforms such as Gmail and Youtube.

All of these different targeting methods can be accessed within the interests and remarketing targeting options shown below.

Similar to audiences

Similar audiences work in a similar way to lookalike audiences on Facebook. Google uses their data to create an audience that is similar to your email or remaking list.

Because you are targeting people who are very similar to people who have visited your website or even purchased from you should reach people who are highly likely to convert but have not yet heard of you.


There you have it, your a champ! You have everything that you need to start your own successful Adwords Video ads campaign.

Why not start by testing out some of your existing videos and seeing how they perform?

Remember like any other form of direct advertising you need to make sure that you can link your Adwords video ads ad performance to your KPIs such as number of leads and cost per lead.

Have any questions? Just ask below and I’ll get right back to you!

wesley parker
About wesley parker

Wesley is Founder and CEO at Clicteq. He currently manages a £6 Mil Adwords portfolio across a range of different sectors. He regulally features in leading search publications such as Search Engine Journal, Econsultancy and Certified Knowledge. You can follow him on Twitter or connect with him on Linkedin

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