Using AdWords to Advertise Your Channel (Case Study)

Using AdWords to Advertise Your Channel

If you're on NewTubers, you've probably at some point looked at advertising your channel directly through YouTube. But Adwords is a complicated beast, and there's conflicting reports online about its efficacy, so chances are you decided against it. During the month of July, I put Adwords to the test myself to see just how effective it is, and this week I'll be sharing a bit of a case study on my results. This is going to be a long one! 

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Question To Answer:

  • Do I have the money? If you don't have extra expendable income of at least $30 per month, you shouldn't be spending it pushing your channel.

  • What is my audience? If you don't have a solid answer to this question, and you don't know who you'd be marketing to, you probably shouldn't put money into Adwords just yet. Adwords allows you to focus your ad placement to target specific demographics, and if you're not targeting your demographic odds are you could be throwing money down the drain.

  • Does Adwords fit my channel? This one is going to be highly subjective, but I would say that if you're putting out daily content, Adwords may not be primed for you as a Creator. You have to keep in mind that you're putting yourself out there to try and grow a meaningful, active audience, not just people that watch once and leave. If your viewers don't easily know where to go next with your content, they may not watch more even if they like it, and there's a chance that having either a lot of different content day-to-day (say, in comedy/vlog channels) or a lot of one type of content (a long series of LP videos, for example) could intimidate some viewers. I personally put out content generally on a weekly basis, and my content is essentially independent from video to video, meaning viewers could come and go at any rate they wished, rather than be tied to one series or be overwhelmed by a mountain of awesome content! Keep that in mind when reading my results.

  • Do I know which videos to advertise? If you don't have a video that hooks any potential new viewers, you're wasting money. You need to choose (or make!) a top-notch video that appeals to a wide audience and keeps them interested throughout. Channel trailers often do this for some Creators, but again, everybody is different. When I did my test I didn't have a channel trailer (actually, I still don't, now that I think about it...) so I actually just used my real videos.

Okay, if you answered all those questions and you're sure you want to Adwords, here's how to do it!

Creating/Linking an Adwords Account

  • First, you must create an Adwords account and link it to your YouTube account. (Make sure you're using Adwords for Video, as the process is slightly different if you just create a regular Adwords account. Simply Google "Adwords for Video" and the correct link will pop up at the top of the search results!) To do this, go to adwords.google.com/video and follow the process to create an account - that's all straightforward so I won't take the time to explain it. When your account is created, you'll see on the home page, and at the top right corner no matter what page you're on, a number formatted like so: XXX-XXX-XXXX. This is your Customer ID Number. Around this point Google will force you to add in a bank account or credit/debit card, so follow that process as well.

  • Go to YouTube's Creator Studio, click on the Channel tab, and click "Advanced." There's an option labeled "Adwords Account Linking." Simply paste in the Customer ID Number from above, and when you hit enter your accounts should be linked.

Simple enough! That's the baby stuff though! Now onto the next step.

Creating an Ad!

First, a couple things to think about:

  • 1. Decide how much to spend - This is where you have a bit of a choice. I ran two tests, which you can see in the second part of this thread. During one, I put in $10 per day for a weekend, and for the other I put in $1.00 per day for 31 days. The bulk results did not work to my satisfaction, so I recommend you sprinkle your money out over time rather than all at once. Keep in mind that Google will spend whatever you put in on a daily basis as long as your Ad is active, and it rounds up, so some days it may go over your budget by a few cents.

  • 2. Locations - If you know where your viewers are predominantly coming from, you can focus your efforts to just those regions. I recommend you do some serious research into your Analytics before you consider Adwords so that you know your viewers like the back of your hand beforehand.

Okay, now we're ready!

  • Image 1When you open Adwords for the first time, it will automatically try to set your first Ad Campaign up. At the bottom there's an option to "Skip this Step," and you should come to the Adwords Home page. Click on the Campaigns tab, and click on the red button labeled "Campaign+" to create a new Campaign. You should see this screen [Image 1] .

  • There are a number of advanced settings you can play with here, such as how you want to spread out your Ads (you can go full blast and send them all out ASAP or spread them evenly throughout the day); where to advertise to (see Locations above); how you want to optimize your advertisement (for views or conversions, we'll get into this in a bit); or even how often your ad appears to any one user. Play around with these as you see fit.

  • Image 2Ad Groups - After you finalize the above step, you'll be at the Ad Group screen [Image 2]. THIS is the important part. There's a spot to put your video URL, and a couple other features. Most notably is the type of ad you want. There are In-Stream Ads, which are the kind that actually play before or during a video, and there are Video Discovery Ads, which show up in related videos, search results, and so on. If you choose In-Stream, you will be paying every time your ad is played for at least 30 seconds; if you choose Discovery, you'll pay only every time somebody actively clicks on your ad. I choose Discovery - as a viewer I find video ads invasive, so as a Creator I only would want to push my content as an option that the viewer has to choose to click on. If you force somebody to watch a video, the odds of a negative response are higher than if you give somebody the option to watch it. Plus, you're only paying specifically when people choose to watch, so your money is getting focused more precisely on a prospective audience (if they didn't care they wouldn't click after all!).

  • Image 3Below that are a couple lines that you must fill in as your Ad Pitch, as I call it. This is what users will see when they see an ad. Some Creators just title their video as normal so that it doesn't look out of place in the "related" section, I usually use a short call-to-action explaining what my channel is about such as this [Image 3]. Just below that is your bid rate. This is how much your max bid would be to get that ad to any specific user. You won't always pay this amount when a user clicks, in fact you'll usually pay much less! I aim mine at max around 13 cents. There's also a newer option to scale your bid up by a certain percent based on popularity...I guess? I'm not honestly sure what that does, it hasn't helped or hurt me though, since 13 cents is well above the average cost per click.

  • Targeting your ads - At the bottom of this page, there's an option to "Narrow your targeting." This is where you can really fine-tune your results. You can focus specifically on users interested in age, location, or keywords - in my case, I'd focus on people 18-25 who like video games and game reviews, since that's my channel and most successful demographic in a nutshell. You can also focus based on specific users' audience, so if I wanted to I could market myself to the respective audiences of larger YouTube game reviewers with a similar style to mine. I highly recommend you tweak your settings and fine-tune your marketing, because it will make every dollar go MUCH further if you're aiming at people who are more likely to enjoy your content. Once you hit submit, you've published your first Ad! It may take a couple hours for it to process through Google, but once it's ready it'll start showing up!

Campaigns Screen

Here you'll now see all your Ads and their results in (mostly) real time. Adwords is generally a day behind in my experience, so you'll have to wait a bit to get a decent idea of how you're performing. There are six metrics for this: Impressions, Views, View Rate, Average Cost-Per-View, Total Cost, and Earned Views. Impressions is how many times your ad shows up; views is how many times your video is clicked or viewed fully (for Discovery and In-Stream ads, respectively); View Rate is the ratio of these two; Average Cost Per View (CPV) is how much you're paying per click (for Discovery ads), or per view (for In-Stream video ads); Total Cost is obviously the total amount you've paid in; and Earned Views is how many ad-viewers ended up watching at least one more of your videos. That's how you measure how effective your ads really are in terms of YT growth.

Misc.

You can also run several ads under the same campaign concurrently, so that you can test which videos draw in a larger audience and which ones retain that audience. In my example, I advertised four videos to wildly different results. You can click on each ad within the campaign to check the analytics directly from Adwords as well. Some results are a tad spotty, but in general they're a good idea of how many subscribers a specific Ad has netted you. You can also create different Campaigns and test out the wording of the same video ad to see which nets the most viewers, and so on. (To check Analytics, in the Campaigns page, click on the Videos tab and each Ad in your campaign will have an Analytics button for you to click!) The possibilities are almost endless, and Adwords can be a huge fountain of knowledge for how your channel performs within your target demographic. You can also specify custom rules to stop or restart your ads in case you're tight on a budget; for example, I didn't want to go over $31 in my test month to hold to the $1.00 a day average, so I created a rule to stop the ads altogether at a certain threshold.

I think that's about it for how to DO Ads on Adwords. Now, for my personal results!

Case Study

  • I used my actual videos as advertisements, rather than a specific channel trailer of any sort. This meant that viewers were in for a 12-20 minute video depending on whichever ad appeared. Obviously this isn't ideal, but I was testing to see how a pure "watch my stuff" ad would perform, so for that purpose, this was perfect.

  • In the month of July, my ads appeared nearly 87,000 times! However, that's not important, what is important is how many people clicked - 668 times to be precise, across three different videos. That means about .75% of the total times my ad appeared, it was clicked. I paid five cents per click on average, which is relatively low for Adwords, and in 31 days I paid $30.50.

  • During the times my ads were active, through Adwords I gained 15 Subscribers, and got 26 likes and (I believe) two dislikes. (Adwords doesn't track dislikes, but during this period I mostly pushed my content exclusively through Adwords to get the best idea of its effectiveness.) On average about 10% of ad viewers went on to watch at least one more of my videos, and about 25% made it a quarter of the way into my videos, but 15% made it to the end of the ad video in question. If I had to estimate based on my average watch-time during this period, probably a good 20% of my overall ad "views" were people clicking the wrong link and backing out within a second. This means that about 200 people clicked and immediately backed out, leaving ~500 that watched for more than a split second. Of those 500, about 150 would make it to the quarter-way mark (which averaged about 3:45 into the video - well beyond the usual YT attention span), and of those 150 about 100 made it to the end from there, with 70 going on to directly click at least one more video.

  • So, in a nutshell, I paid $31 for 670 views, which turned into at least 800 views, and (from the looks of it), I gained 15 active subscribers and doubled my like average from video to video.

Does that mean Adwords is worth it?

Maybe! It honestly depends on your channel type and your audience. For somebody that's putting out weekly content, it meant that I was gaining exposure from a vast swathe of viewers looking for gaming/game review content, many of whom were incredibly receptive! In essence, I was paying a dollar per like, half a dollar for each viewer that came back for more, or half a dollar for each new Subscriber I got!

Adwords is a great tool to use, so long as you use it wisely and so long as your prospective audience is receptive towards advertising. Don't put too much money in - you have to make sure you budget yourself conservatively so that you don't spend more than you can afford. If you're unsure of whether it will be effective for you, you can often deduce a bit from Analytics to see the age of your target audience and you can use outside tools like TubeBuddy or VidIQ to get a grasp of what your viewers may watch in addition to your content. Again, I don't know if I'd recommend Adwords for LP content or any long-term series format - I didn't have to deal with those variables, but based on my experience I don't know if viewers will stick around for the advertisement video unless they're really hooked. In my case, a lot of my advertised-viewers commented praising my videos for actively teaching them about the games in question or because of the insight I gave - implying they wouldn't have stuck around due to the video length if my content wasn't interesting enough. If your long-form series have consistent views from beginning to end, your content is probably interesting enough to keep people interested; if your episode 1 spikes in views and it gradually drops from there, using that series as an advertisement may not work well for you. But again, it all depends on the viewer!

If you choose to try Adwords, good luck and happy advertising!


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