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Earn More with YouTube Ads Video Placement Targeting

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Steve Spagnola
Written by Steve Spagnola
Last updated June 16, 2023

Why Every YouTube Advertiser Needs Video Placement Targeting

Although Google removed the ability to target specific YouTube placements in conversion-based Video Ad Campaigns (e.g. Video Action Campaigns with Smart Bidding), it’s still possible to run placement targeting on both Manual CPV and Target CPM based campaigns.

Although these 2 campaign types may not be “smart,” they can make your business much “smarter” by exposing video-level performance insights that you simply cannot get with smart bidding campaigns (since they only report on the channels where ads showed & converted, but not the specific videos).

There are 2 huge benefits we’ve experienced ourselves from placing our video ads on individual YouTube videos we’ll share with you below & offer a few options for how you can get started reaping these rewards as well.

1. Test Your Offer on Other Creator’s Videos

Before investing time & effort into making a video that won’t lead to any conversions, you can more effectively find other videos related to content you may want to produce in the future and run your YouTube ads on those instead.

You’ll be able to see exactly which videos from other creators lead to conversions and which ones would be a waste of your time if pursued. And you can do this with THOUSANDS of videos at once - talk about data-driven content marketing!

See What Other Creator Content Works

Once you know exactly which other videos (from other creators) that people are watching when they respond to your offer, you can better tailor your content strategy to:

  • Replicate other creators’ content that’s working into your own content strategy
  • Target similar videos to the specific videos that you know are working
  • Build new keyword lists to use for other campaigns based on working content (e.g. search or custom segments)

These insights are invaluable to your own business and marketing efforts, and is only available with individual YouTube video placement targeting.

2. Track Your Own Videos Performance

If you have your own YouTube channel and are already getting conversions from your efforts, you probably want to know exactly which of your videos are leading to sales (perhaps without managing hundreds of random bit.ly URLs to track clicks).

What’s even better is that with Google Ads, you can track a conversion if someone watches the target video (assuming they see 10 seconds of your ad), and they then go to your website without the link in the description (e.g. direct or branded search). This is not possible relying solely on links in your YouTube video descriptions.

With view through conversion tracking, when you run in-stream ads on your own channel’s videos, you can see exactly which videos lead to results (even if the viewer didn’t click through, but later came back after watching your video ad). While this method isn’t perfect (e.g. if people skip your ads before 10 seconds or don’t see your ads on your own videos), it can give you a better directional signal as to which pieces of content are working and to make more of.

See Which of Your Videos Lead to View-Through Conversions

You can see that while no one watched the first video ad (up to 30 seconds) in the above screenshot, Google was still able to track these users as signing up to our service after they watched the target video. So we know that exact video content is working and we should make more of that content.

One further benefit is that these conversion events will help train the Google Ads algorithm for your other “smart” YouTube Ad campaigns (assuming they are all using the same Account Level Default goal). Getting this initial conversion data is critical in bootstrapping a new Google Ads account.

How to Set Up Placement Targeting

Now that you know the benefits of individual placement targeting, let’s cover exactly how to implement these tactics. You’ll need to create a non-smart campaign (without goal guidance) in Google Ads:

Create a Custom Campaign

Next, select “Video” and then you can select “Get Views” to launch a “Manual CPV” campaign that will allow you to target individual YouTube videos. Note that you can also use Target CPM with the “Efficient Reach” option (we prefer doing this for our own channel to “push” out all competitors in the auctions, but experiment at your own risk):

Use Get Views to use Manual CPV Bidding

You can walk through the rest of the steps here. We’ll link to specific videos at the end of this article if you need help with any of these options.

Manually Enter Placements

Once your campaign is set up, you want to navigate to the specific Ad Group to run target placements, and select Content > Placements on the sidebar:

Ad Group Placements Editor

You can use the search feature to find individual videos based on a keyword or channel (e.g. just use the channel name as the keyword) and select individual videos this way:

Search by Keywords for Videos or Channels

While this approach is a great way to get started, you may find that you need thousands of placements to get your ads running effectively. This is because a lot of relevant placements may only get say 10 - 100 views per day (only a handful of which are monetizable, meaning your ad is eligible to show), so you may need to enter a LOT of placements (like thousands) depending on your situation.

Automatically Scrape & Enter Bulk Placements

The 2 most common situations you may have are entering the entire list of videos for a specific channel (e.g. your own channel to track performance), or all of the videos from a search result. Our service can help with both, collecting the data directly from the official YouTube API so you know you’re getting the freshest, most complete list of video placements possible.

Scrape All Video IDs for a Channel

You can scrape a complete list of videos for any YouTube channel using the YouTube Channel Uploads Workflow which will accept a single (or multiple) channel IDs and return all of the individual videos those channels have ever uploaded.

You can use this workflow to get a list of all of your own videos, or enter in a list of your competitors (or related) channels so you can target all of their specific videos as well. Once the workflow is done, look for the items.snippet.resourceId.videoId column to get the list of Video IDs to target:

Copy the Video IDs for the Channels Provided

Then go back to your Ad Group and paste in the list of IDs under the “Enter” tab:

Paste Video IDs into Google Ads

Save your changes and you’ll now run your ads on all of the individual videos for the channels you provided, this way you know exactly which videos lead to your conversions.

Scrape All Video IDs for a Keyword

For finding other content to test your offer on, you probably want to use videos that rank well for keywords you’re interested in. For example, we run one of our ads to placements focused on tutorial around Facebook Ads, so we used the YouTube Search Results Workflow to scrape 600 results for videos matching the keywords “facebook ads tutorial.”

Our service also works on lists of keywords (with each keyword returning up to 600 videos), so if you enter in 10 different keywords, you’ll quickly have a list of up to 6,000 different videos you can test to see exactly which ones work best on your offer(s).

YouTube Search Results Output

Here the video IDs are under column items.id.videoId - and we can also see the video titles next to them. For search results output, we highly recommend screening the placements as after the first 100 or so results, the videos tend to get irrelevant (please do not blindly copy-paste the output for search results).

We like to look for a few mandatory strings (e.g. facebook, ads, meta, insta) and filter down the spreadsheet to only include videos with at least one of those words. We then copy and paste this list into Google Ads, knowing the likelihood of getting a junk placement is relatively low.

Once your ads start running, we suggest checking in on your placements to make sure you don’t see any irrelevant videos showing. If you do, we suggest “pausing” them (do not remove them). This is because if you remove a placement, but re-upload a list later on in the future, it will re-enable the placement. Keep them paused so you don’t accidentally re-enable them at a later date.

How to Set up a Placement Targeting Campaign

For step-by-step help in setting up a new Placement Targeting Campaign, check these videos out:

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