How to Advertise on YouTube: A Guide for Ecommerce Brands

February 16, 2022

The Bolt Team

YouTube ads are one of the most undervalued advertising opportunities for Ecommerce providers. With more than two billion active users worldwide, YouTube receives more than 25% of global mobile traffic.

YouTube combines the advantages of a search engine with a social network—giving Ecommerce brands a dynamic place to reach their target audience.

If you’re ready to learn how to advertise on YouTube, you’re in the right place. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll cover:

  • What are YouTube ads?
  • What are the different types of YouTube ads?
  • YouTube ad campaign strategy
  • How to create compelling YouTube ads
  • How to use YouTube’s ad platform

What are YouTube ads?

YouTube ads are advertisements placed on the YouTube platform. They appear as in-feed video ads, in-stream ads (skippable or non-skippable), overlay ads, and other formats (more on the types of ads below).

There are three reasons Ecommerce providers should consider YouTube ads:

1. Ad cost

YouTube ads are cost-effective compared to other forms of internet advertising. For example, the average cost-per-view is between $0.010 and $0.030, which is low compared to the cost of some keywords on the Google Search Network.

YouTube combines the dynamics of a social network with that of a search engine. Owned by Google, it’s the second-largest search engine. And like Google, it uses an intention-based algorithm. 

YouTube users come to the site to look for answers to specific questions. Subsequently, you can bid on keywords and display ads to satisfy your market’s search queries.

People also spend time on YouTube for entertainment. As a result, there is an active community of users who comment, like, and support the content they consume.

YouTube collects detailed behavioral data on all of its users, which you can leverage to your advantage, just as would when advertising on Facebook or Instagram.

3. It’s the number one video platform in the world

Video is hot right now, and its popularity is growing. It’s the most commonly used content type in content marketing

If you want to advertise using video, YouTube is the place to be. Its users are primed to consume only video, without the distractions other social networks provide.

What are the different types of YouTube ads

There are seven YouTube ad formats. 

In-feed video ads

In-feed video ads (previously known as discovery ads) are similar to Google search ads. They show up on the search results page, video watch page, and the YouTube homepage.

Like Google text ads, in-feed videos ads are flagged as ads, so users know it’s a paid placement. This type of ad has a thumbnail image and three lines of text. 

The link will open on a separate page with in-feed video ads, like the 7-Eleven ad example above. Or it will open as a video, like the Finco Services ad example above.

Skippable in-stream ads

Skippable in-stream ads are ads you can skip after five seconds. They run before, during, or after the video your prospects are watching and can be found on any Google video partner site. That includes YouTube, websites, and apps. 

Use skippable in-stream ads to drive awareness, consideration, online sales, or leads.

Non-skippable in-stream ads

Non-skippable in-stream ads are ads that you aren’t able to skip. They are about 15 seconds or less in length, which makes up for the lack of a “Skip Ad” button from a user-experience perspective. 

This type of ad plays before, during, or after other videos. Use non-skippable in-stream ads to drive brand awareness and reach.


Bumper ads are the shortest video ads and last six seconds or less. 

Bumper ads play before, during, or after your audience’s video and are best for brand awareness and reach. Use them in broader awareness campaigns, including skippable or non-skippable in-stream ads, display ads, or overlay ads.

The length of these videos makes it challenging to communicate a complete narrative. But they’re ideal for sharing short, memorable messages that make viewers want to learn more.

Overlay ads

Overlay ads are banner ads that appear at the bottom of the video. They are a great way to supplement your bumper ads or other in-stream video ads. 

Outstream ads

YouTube created outstream ads for mobile, and they appear only on sites and apps running on Google video partners. Use outstream ads to expand your video ad reach to more customers on mobile in a cost-effective way.

Masthead ads

Masthead ads automatically play without sound for up to 30 seconds at the top of the YouTube Home feed. Masthead ads are best for driving awareness for a new product or reaching a massive audience quickly.

YouTube ad campaign strategy

Like any marketing endeavor, it’s imperative to develop a sound strategy to get the best return on investment (ROI). So as you build your YouTube ad strategy, keep the following tips in mind. 

1. Deciding your goals

Do you want to drive immediate sales for your online store? Perhaps you’re trying to create brand awareness, attract new customers, or drive repeat purchases.

If your goal is driving sales for your Ecommerce site, provide a smooth shopping experience on the product page. For example, offer a one-click checkout experience. As a result, you’ll increase conversions compared to traditional shopping carts. Also, you’ll reduce your cost of customer acquisition (CAC).

2. Mixing up your ad types

For your YouTube strategy to succeed, it’s best to produce various ad types. Experiment with overlay, skippable and non-skippable in-stream ads, and bumper ads. 

By trying different ad types, you increase the odds of finding the winning combination for your business. Start by running tests with a small ad budget. Then, when you see traction with a winning combination, double down and invest in what’s working well.

3. Knowing your target audience

If you’ve been in business long, you’ve likely identified your target audience. Maybe you’ve created a buyer persona that includes:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Occupation
  • Interests
  • Hobbies
  • Buying habits
  • Content preferences

There’s a practical reason for identifying the common traits of your ideal customer. For any advertising campaign, it’s essential to know who you’re targeting. Develop content that speaks to your target audience’s wants and needs by understanding their demographics, psychographics, interests, and affiliations.  

Your ads can reach the right people if you know your target audience intimately with YouTube’s detailed targeting capabilities.

How to create compelling YouTube ads

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to advertise on YouTube. While you may be eager to start recording, hold off for a moment. Award your efforts by beginning with a solid strategy.

Here’s the anatomy of a winning YouTube ad:

1. Find the hook that grabs your target audience

Ryan Deiss, founder and CEO of, says in his foundational article, Customer Value Optimization: How to Build an Unstoppable Business, “People don’t buy products or services. They buy transformations.”

At this phase, you know your target audience. Now it’s time to think about the transformation the audience is trying to achieve. 

For example, suppose you sell makeup designed for women with sensitive skin. Your customers are looking to transform their appearance and life experiences. They want to escape the battle of makeup that causes breakouts.

Or suppose you sell a no-code web development tool. Your target audience is freelance designers who want to expand beyond graphic design and offer complete web development services.

Once you understand the transformations your audience desires, it’s time to find the hook.

Master copywriter John Carlton says a great hook connects your product’s features and the prospect’s inner needs. 

In the case of makeup for sensitive skin, the hook could be “Express yourself without worry.” For the web design tool, it could be “Expand your design business without learning to code.” 

Build your YouTube ad around the hook. Your hook is what will grab your viewer.

2. Connect your product to their transformation

With skippable in-stream ads and bumper ads, immediately tie your product features to the hook in the first five or six seconds of the ad.

For example, this ad from Vimeo is an in-stream skippable ad that cuts right to the chase and engages its audience. Within the first five seconds, the words, “Make a video in an instant with vimeocreate,” pop up as a voiceover says, “You created a business. Now, create videos for your business.”

And the well-executed hook, “You’re a hard-working startup founder. Now you too can create compelling videos without hiring an expensive videographer,” appears within the six-second timeframe.

3. Create an emotional experience

Consumers often buy on emotion and use logic to justify their decision. Because of that, use the power of moving images, sound, and a great narrative to emphasize emotions that sell.

In the fat-burning nutritional supplement video, emotional triggers spark a vision of transformation for the target audience. First, there is an ultra-specific statement to generate curiosity: “Half a teaspoon burns fat 728% faster.” Then, the narrator builds on that curiosity by showing before and after images. This strategic move helps viewers imagine their transformation and connect to the product. 

4. Use visuals as much as you can

Video is a visual medium. Therefore, it’s important to use visuals to maximum effect. 

For example, the Vimeo ad shows entrepreneurs in their everyday environment, like the barber using his smartphone to take pictures of a client or the woman cutting flowers at her flower shop.

The nutritional supplement ad shows people in various shapes and sizes happily and effortlessly losing weight. These images help a diverse audience identify with the ad.

5. Monitor the numbers

The creative part can be fun, but keeping an eye on the numbers is equally important. So what numbers should you track? 

You need to know if your ads are driving results or if you need to make changes. Track clicks, views, and video viewing time. Determine which ad is driving the most results. (We go deeper into tracking and measurement below.)

How to use YouTube’s ad platform

Now let’s get into the practical step-by-step of using the YouTube ad platform. First, here’s how to launch an in-stream ad, whether skippable or non-skippable.

1. Turning on conversion tracking in Google Ads

First, add the appropriate conversion actions to your Google Ads account. For example, track site visits, leads, sales, add-to-carts, or phone calls.

Sign in to your Google Ads account and click “Tools & Settings” in the upper right. Then click “Conversions.”

Create trackable actions on your Ecommerce site or in your app by choosing a conversion category, such as “purchase” or “add to cart.” 

Give the conversion a name, then set a value and conversion time frame. Finally, select an attribution model such as “last click,” “linear,” or “time-decay.”

Add a tracking tag to your site or app to enable Google Ads and monitor results. Import conversion actions from Google Analytics and link them to your Google Ads account. 

Finally, select the goal or transaction to import and start tracking.

2. Uploading video ads to YouTube

Once you’ve filmed, edited, and produced the video, it’s time to upload the video.

Upload it to your YouTube account.

Tip: If you have G Suite, you already have a YouTube account.

Click on the camcorder icon on the top right of your YouTube homepage. Then click the “Upload video” icon.

An upload window will pop up. Either drag and drop your video file here or press the “Select Files” button and navigate to the video.

Enter the appropriate information, such as “title,” “description,” and “tags.” These are the relevant keywords you want to target.

3. Creating a campaign in Google Ads

Go back to your Google Ads account and follow these steps: 

  • Click “Campaigns” in the left sidebar
  • Click the blue + icon to create a new campaign
  • Click “New campaign” in the pop-out window

Now set goals for the campaign:

  • Click “Sales” (or whatever your goal is)
  • Click “Video” 
  • Select the objective that matches what you’re tracking

4. Choosing campaign settings

Name your in-stream campaign and select your bid strategy. If you’re just getting started, try the automated option. 

“Maximize Conversions,” for example, will help you drive conversions with the smallest investment possible.

Set a daily budget, pick a start date, and choose target locations and languages. Finally, review brand safety settings.

Then set up your inventory type. To learn more about content exclusions for video campaigns, consult this Google Ads help article.

5. Setting up ad targeting

Name your ad group and configure your targeting settings. It’s crucial your in-stream ads appear alongside the most relevant videos. Do this by choosing content topics or YouTube channels to target. 

Another option is adding keyword lists or letting Google provide keyword ideas by entering your website URL.

6. Creating an in-stream video ad 

Now it’s time to set up your ad. Let’s go back to the video we uploaded in step two, Uploading video ads to YouTube. Copy and paste the URL. Next, enter other critical elements of your ad. 

Shopping page URL

Identify the product sales page or the particular offer page where you’d like to drive your traffic. When setting up this step, it’s important to provide one-click checkout to maximize conversions and lower your CAC. Then, paste the URL in the provided field. 

If your product page URL is too long or complicated, create a display URL. Your display URL will appear alongside the call to action (CTA) in your in-stream ad.

Call to action

To maximize your YouTube ad’s effectiveness, create a clear CTA for your target audience. For example, for Ecommerce merchants, a good CTA is “Shop Now.” The CTA will appear as a bright-blue button, so it’s obvious to viewers what they need to do.


The headline is another opportunity to grab viewers with the emotional hook you developed earlier. Headlines appear next to the CTA. 


In the description, summarize your offer in 70 characters or less. The description will not appear in standard in-stream ads, but it’s essential for creating in-stream campaigns. 

Tracking data

To measure results, add an urchin tracking module (UTM) tracking code to your product page URL so you can track your results in Google Analytics.

7. Launching your ad

Now it’s time to hit the ‘Go’ button! But launching your in-stream ad campaign is just the first step. Now you need to monitor your results.

Are your ads performing as expected? Have some of the ads outperformed others if you’ve launched multiple ads? 

After two weeks, if your ads aren’t performing as expected, it’s time to start optimizing by reviewing targeting, updating messaging, and adjusting bids.

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What type of advertisers is the YouTube masthead good for?

You can also “buy out” the YouTube masthead itself. So, anybody who visits will see your ad for that period of your advertising buy.

The YouTube masthead advertising is good for banded pushes or launches of new products. It’s not going to be as targeted as some of the other ways to advertise on YouTube, so the direct sales results may not always be high.

The bottom line

YouTube ads are an incredible advertising opportunity for Ecommerce merchants. You get the best of both worlds, search and social, in one handy, visually stimulating, exciting package.

To successfully advertise on YouTube, keep your focus on these three things:

  1. What are your goals? Do you want to close sales, create brand awareness, or drive loyalty?
  2. What type of ads will you create? Choose the style that best fits your goals and strategy. 
  3. How will you maximize results? How will you make it easier for your ad traffic to convert? An excellent place to start is offering one-click checkout from Bolt.

Convert first-time shoppers from your YouTube ads with a checkout designed to drive revenue. Now that you’ve spent the ad money getting interested shoppers to your site, don’t lose orders because of friction in the checkout. With faster load times and fewer clicks and redirects, Bolt’s checkout is faster and more seamless than the industry average and gets 50% higher conversions. In addition, with Bolt streamlining your checkout and improving your checkout rate, you’re free to focus on the truly impactful things – like crafting your next compelling YouTube ad.

YouTube advertising can seem complicated, but if you follow our step-by-step process, you’ll know the ropes. The key is to start small and learn as you go. It’s also crucial to consider the experience for your shoppers after they’ve made it to your site. Providing a fast, one-click checkout is a powerful way to delight your newly acquired shoppers and keep them coming back. 

ThinkShop by Bolt does not constitute professional tax or financial advice. Contact your own tax or financial professional to discuss your situation.