How to Set Up Targeting for YouTube Ads

So, you have a new, beautiful video ad that is optimized for YouTube and you’re pumped to plug it in and watch those conversions start rolling in.  Have you considered yet where you are going to place this ad? (No, YouTube is not an acceptable answer).  You need to know who you are going to target and where on YouTube these people are looking so that you can place your ad on their computer screen.

All online platforms have a different way of targeting.  YouTube ads are no different.  You can’t just copy and paste your PPC campaign into YouTube. It will fail.

Lets take a look at a couple of things you must know before setting up targeting for your YouTube ads…

1) What Targeting Options Do YouTube Ads Provide?


Content Keywords

This is one of the most important targeting options. It will place your ads based on relevant keywords. These are the keywords found in video titles and descriptions  You’ll want to do good research and a lot of keyword testing.



These are generally the best converting targeting groups so make sure you have them! There are two ways you can set up remarketing for your YouTube Ads.  The first is website remarketing, where ads will be placed in front of anyone that has been to your website.  The second is video remarketing, where your ads will be placed in front of anyone who has seen your YouTube videos.



This can also be a very strong targeting group if you do it right.  But it takes the most amount of prep time and research to create. You can take your ad and place it on relevant videos and channels that you choose (as long as they are monetized/allow ads). Hint: this can (and should) include your competitors videos.

topics and interests

Topics and Interests

When your YouTube ads target people based off topics and interests, it uses information YouTube has acquired about a persons video watching habits.  Interests are shown to people who have been frequently watching videos that fall under a category that you specify. Topics will be shown on videos that are related to a Topic that you specify. These have usually been our worst performing groups. But they have been successful in some cases so always test them!

2) What Should You Consider When Creating Targeting Groups For YouTube Ads?


Each targeting group that you make for your YouTube ads can be further segmented by demographics.  It is important to know your customer and turn off the demographics you know will not buy.  If you don’t you could end up trying to sell diapers to elderly men.  Which, come to think of it, they might actually need…


My advice is to prepare first. Research your customer, the value of a customer, keywords, placements, and know your desired CPA (cost per acquisition). Here is the formula you should think about while doing your research…

Right Message + Right People = Right Results


Do not ever just jump into your campaign and start making targeting groups without doing the research and putting some good thought into it. These campaigns are your money-making machines and you don’t want to start them up without knowing how to use them.  They will most likely fail miserably and you will miss out on a possible gold mine.  Maybe one like Scrooge McDucks on Duck Tales (thats a young person reference).

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The Most Important Thing To Remember!

You have to be patient and you need to test.  These campaigns usually do not work right off the bat because there is no way of knowing what works and what doesn’t until you start trying.  You will most likely be ad spend negative for the first month or two. That’s OK! Just remember to always optimize your targeting groups towards conversions and you will start to see results.

3)What Does One Of Our YouTube Campaigns Look Like?

We usually start with all of the targeting groups and work from there. Because, like I said, when it comes to targeting for YouTube ads you have to test.  You don’t know what will work and what won’t.  Don’t be afraid to have variations of these different targeting group options.  This allows for A/B testing between different categories of placements, or different sets of keywords.




This article first appeared on the Video Power Marketing Blog.

About the Author

jake-larsen-roundJake Larsen grew up with a camera in his hand. His passion for video making lead him to TV Advertising in LA, where he worked behind the scenes with FOX Entertainment on TV shows like 24, American Idol and House. When Google asked him to be a YouTube Marketing Ambassador, Jake quit his job to start Video Power Marketing — a video production/advertising agency that helps companies capture attention, drive traffic, and increase sales using YouTube videos and advertising.

Jake has grown channels up to 24 million views and increased online sales by 65% for multi-million dollar companies. His video strategy not only guarantees views, but cuts through the competition to capture and direct viewers’ attention.

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