Do you want to introduce your client to YouTube ads but thought it was too high risk?

Youtube Placement Targeting

Have you thought about diversifying your marketing channels and want to know how to launch on YouTube with minimal risk?

You’re not alone. More and more advertisers have either spotted the potential of YouTube or want to add to their existing profitable channels. Unfortunately a significant number have subsequently retreated after seeing poor initial results.

The lowest risk way to get results with YouTube ads (and possibly the highest return), is with YouTube placement targeting.

By serving your ads on specific YouTube videos or channels that are a perfect match for your product or service, you minimize wasted impressions on an irrelevant audience. In turn you maximize your return on ad spend.

The Pyramid Targeting Technique: A Strategic Framework

As part of my “Pyramid Targeting Technique” model for profitable YouTube ad campaigns, placement targeting sits at the top.

Pyramid Targeting Technique For YouTube Ads

This laser-focused method allows you to hand-pick exactly where your ads will be displayed – giving you unrivaled control.

Here’s why you’ll want to start with YouTube’s placement targeting:

1. Profit-Producing ROI Potential

With tight audience targeting you’re putting your ads directly in front of a highly relevant, interested crowd. This precision-striking ability maximizes your chances of driving conversions by meeting their intent with your message.

2. Small Budget, Big Results

Since you can start with a small number of placements, placement targeting is ideal for affordably testing different ads and messages without blowing your budget. Find your winners first, then scale up (working your way down the pyramid).

3. You’re the Master of Your Audience

You choose the specific videos and channels to run your ads on, rather than relying on Google’s algorithms to figure out relevancy and serve your ads. This granular control helps ensure your ads stay hyper-focused on your prime prospects.

With such a narrow targeting method, audience sizes will naturally be smaller than broader methods like keywords, topics, custom segments and interests. But that’s the advantage – you can consistently put your brand in front of an audience you know have intent and interest at the moment you’re reaching them.

Placement Pitfalls to Avoid & Quick-Fire Tips

Placement targeting isn’t always a magic bullet. Advertisers often struggle with a few common pitfalls that sabotage their results. These will help you avoid being one of those who say “I tried, it doesn’t work” or “It won’t get conversions”.

1. Bidding Too Low

Given placement targeting is the most precise form of targeting on YouTube, it often requires higher bids to effectively compete in the auction. In practice, many advertisers pay less than their maximum bid due to the auction dynamics. Remember, you’re targeting an ultra-focused audience – it’s worth paying for that privilege.

2. Overly Restrictive Layered Targeting

Combining placement targeting with too many additional targeting restrictions, such as narrow age or geographical limits, can overly constrict the audience size and hinder performance. A light touch is often best.

3. Manual Optimization Neglect

Some advertisers struggle with high cost-per-acquisition (CPA) on placement campaigns. Often they haven’t engaged in regular manual optimizations. As it’s a manual campaign you’ve got to review and optimize regularly.

4. Misusing as a Scale Tool

While extremely powerful, placement targeting simply won’t reach the same stratospheric audience levels available on YouTube as broader methods. Use it as an intelligent testing bed and build scale with other targeting methods (further down the pyramid).

5. Keep your video and channel placements in different campaigns for easier management and optimization.

Keep your video and channel placements in different campaigns for easier management and optimization.

6. Mixing Videos and Channels

Keep your video and channel placements in different campaigns for easier management and optimization.

7. Path of Least Resistance

When starting out, it’s often easier to find well-performing individual video level placements rather than channel placements. Build from that base.

Setting Up YouTube Placements

To set up your YouTube ad campaign targeting placements, you’ll start by selecting ‘create a campaign without a Goal’s guidance’, then choose the Video campaign.

You can use placement targeting (and the other content targeting options) in four video campaign subtypes:

  • Video Views – using Max CPV, Target CPV (with Multi-format ads enabled)
  • Efficient Reach – using Target CPM
  • Non-skippable – using Target CPM
  • Audio – using Target CPM

I’d suggest starting with the Video Views Campaign (VVC) subtype if you’re running a direct-response style ad because you can use Maximum CPV (cost per view) bidding. 

For in-stream skippable ads, you’ll only pay when someone watches your ad for 30 seconds or more (or watches the full video if it’s less than 30 seconds.) This is saves you money when you’re launching a new client or starting to advertise on YouTube, as it lowers your risk. You’ve chosen specific relevant videos or channels to show your ad on and you only pay when someone chooses not to skip in the first 30 seconds.

So select Video Views as the campaign subtype:

During setup it’s critical that you go to Network settings and uncheck ‘Video partners on the Google Display Network’. It’s easy to forget but it’ll cost you if you do. If you have this checked Google can (and often will) show your video ad on the Display Network, even if you only add placements to your targeting.

Scroll down and you’ll see the Content targeting options – keywords, topics and placements. Select Placements and navigate to ‘Enter’ so you can add your placements.

Don’t move on until you’ve actually clicked ‘Add X placements’, otherwise your placements won’t be added. I know it sounds obvious but I’ve seen cases where this has happened. It’s horrible having to tell someone they didn’t actually add the placements and the campaign has been spending that way for a while!

You can use research tools like my own, Adzoola, to find, filter and add video or channel placements to run focused campaigns to a relevant audience.

Test a handful of promising placements, analyze the results, then either maximize the winners or restart your sourcing process.

Don’t Sleep on Placements: The Low-Risk Testing Bed

For advertisers looking to maximize ROI from their YouTube ad spend – especially those operating with smaller budgets – placement targeting needs to be a core part of your strategy. The ability to put your brand and messaging in front of an ultra-relevant audience in a cost-effective manner is a game-changing advantage.

While placement targeting may require more manual management than automated campaigns, having that level of hands-on control could be the key to cracking profitable YouTube advertising for your brand and offering.

The Next Level: Scaling Up with the Pyramid

While placement targeting represents the pinnacle of precise YouTube audience targeting, it’s just the first step of a bigger picture strategy.

The Pyramid Targeting Technique is one of the frameworks I teach in my YouTube ads training course to strategically plan, manage, and scale YouTube ad campaigns. It’s designed to guide you along a path to profitable YouTube ads with less risk.

By following the Pyramid Targeting Technique and launching with focused placements, you minimize your upfront risk with lower budgets and maximum control. Once you’ve worked out your winning formula through this testing bed, you can scale your budget and expand targeting incrementally down the pyramid.

And, you can use it at almost any budget level.

If you’re a larger brand with a bigger budget and higher risk tolerance, you can skip levels of the pyramid entirely. Depending on your ability and willingness to go negative on profitability for a period, bigger players can take a more aggressive approach right away.

But for agencies, consultants and small-to-medium businesses, mastering YouTube placement targeting could be the safest and smartest first step for you.

Each successive level down the pyramid represents increased potential scale, but also becomes more hands-off and reliant on Google’s algorithms to optimize targeting. That’s why it’s so crucial for you to get your offering and messaging finely tuned and validated at the more controllable levels like placements first.

The pyramid provides you with a strategic framework to decide the appropriate starting point and level of risk based on your specific circumstances, risk tolerance and ultimate goals. The choice is yours, but this profitable, proven path is clearly mapped for you to follow.

Alex King is the founder of Adzoola and a YouTube ads specialist with over 14 years of media buying experience.