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By John Boitnott

You need to know your audience, formats, and competition to really get people to visit your site and buy your product.

As the second-largest search engine in the world, YouTube can be an effective way to generate interest in your startup as well as to drive traffic to your website. It doesn’t matter whether your company is B2B or B2C: YouTube Ads provide an engaging way to reach your target customers, and give you an opportunity to work with a channel that consumers trust.

Here’s how I and others got started and made the most out of YouTube ads, as well as how you can use the social media platform overall to help grow your company.

Familiarize yourself with various YouTube targeting options.

To maximize the return on your YouTube ads, you’ll need to know how to target your specific audience. You can understand your audience better as well as how to target potential customers by learning and using these options:

1. Remarketing

Remarketing, often called retargeting, offers a way to go after those non-converting visitors by sending an ad to other places they visit.

I used to work for a startup that used this strategy quite a lot. I and other members of the marketing team noticed that visitors would leave before buying our services. We worked with a company specializing in this form of marketing (top options include Outbrain, Adroll and ReTargeter) to incentivize people to return to our site, even months later–and it worked.

2. In-Market and Affinity Audiences

These are traditional audience targets. These audiences align with Google’s pre-defined segmentation model, based on previous knowledge Google has gathered. Affinity audiences are those that have a strong interest in a specific topic, while in-market audiences are those currently researching a certain product and are ready to buy.

3. Life Events

Google created this target specifically for YouTube. It focuses on reaching a target audience based on upcoming life events like graduation, moving, and marriage.

Get to Know YouTube ad formats.

Making the most out of YouTube ads also means developing a format that catches peoples’ attention. Here are the main types of ads.

TrueView In-Stream ads play before a video. They offer a way for audiences to reach your website. Audiences can choose whether or not to skip them. They’re often effective during remarketing campaigns and can help bring more subscribers to your YouTube channel.

TrueView Video Discovery ads appear on the right-hand side of the video view page, search results pages, and as thumbnails on an individual’s YouTube homepage. This format works well for traditional search campaign ads, as well as for prospecting and remarketing campaigns.

Finally, there are bumper ads. They’re under six seconds long and appear prior to a video. Impressions drive the cost of these ads, which also often work well for remarketing campaigns.

Know the competition and your other marketing efforts.

Before designing and producing your ad on YouTube, make sure you know what your competition is up to. You don’t want to end up looking just like them and blend in too much with the crowd.

Your YouTube ad campaign should align with your other marketing efforts. This promotes brand consistency, which in turn can build brand awareness. To get started on framing your campaign, make sure you first have a Google AdWords account. This is where you will start your YouTube ad campaign.

Create a visually compelling ad around one value-add point.

Keep the video ads simple by focusing on one way you can add value rather than trying to cram all your benefits into one ad. Select the most relevant value-add point to catch the audience’s attention and focus on explaining that benefit in a visually compelling manner.

Develop content and SEO opportunities.

Be sure to include relevant written content like the ad title and description by using keywords. This is where YouTube’s search engine capability can provide a significant advantage. Plug in your own search terms to see what appears, and use those results to help shape keyword usage and content to improve ranking for your video ad.

Don’t forget to include a “call to action” in that description. Be sure to include links to your site so potential customers can find your website, improving conversion rates.

Build out your YouTube channel.

Before visiting your website, those target audience members may want to see what other video content you have available on YouTube. To get the most out of your ads, make sure you have first developed a channel that offers relevant video content.

By engaging with your audience in multiple ways beyond a single YouTube ad, you can deliver more value, enhance your credibility and drive higher returns on your YouTube ad investments. This may also inspire your target audience to visit your site and make purchases.

Review and assess your YouTube ad results.

Continue refining your campaign efforts, leveraging Google AdWords. You can use this analytics tool to assess response rates to your YouTube ad, providing valuable information for your company. While these tips help you master YouTube ads, you’ll still be able to learn as you go, improving along the way.

Feature  Image Credit: Getty Images

By John Boitnott

Sourced from Inc.