An Overview of AdWords Video Advertising

Whether running brand spots or promoting how-to videos, video advertising can be highly beneficial to build awareness online. While not always an avenue for immediate lead generation, video ads can help to reach a top-of-funnel audience as well as to reinforce familiarity through remarketing.

By utilizing videos you’ve uploaded to YouTube, AdWords makes the process of setting up a video campaign relatively easy. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of video advertising through AdWords, from setup to ad formats to targeting.

Setting Up a Video Campaign

To set up a video campaign in the new AdWords interface, click the “plus” button to create a new campaign and choose Video from the options that appear.

Now, select your campaign parameters. Note that you can choose to show on YouTube search results (video discovery ads only), YouTube videos, and Google Display Network videos.

Once you’ve created a campaign and an initial ad group, you can proceed to create your first video ad.

You’ll need to use a video that’s been uploaded to YouTube as either public or unlisted. Along with the video, can include elements such as accompanying ad copy, imagery, and a call-to-action overlay, depending on the ad format you choose.

Available Ad Formats


Plays before, in the middle of, or after YouTube videos, as well as on partner sites. Videos can technically be any length, but users can skip an ad after 5 seconds. The ad can include a 300×60 banner that shows beside the video on the watch page.

In-stream video and companion ad

Video Discovery:

Appears in YouTube search results, alongside related videos, or on the YouTube mobile homepage. This format includes a thumbnail image with text encouraging a user to watch the video.

Video discovery ad in right sidebar


Video discovery ad in search results

Bumper Ads

Unskippable 6-second ads that can play before, during, or after videos.

How You’re Charged

For in-stream or video discovery ads, you’re charged per view. If a video is less than 30 seconds, a view occurs when a user watches through the entire video. For a longer video, you’re charged once a user reaches the 30-second mark.

For bumper ads, you’re charged per impression and bid on a CPM basis.

Targeting Options

Similarly to display campaigns, targeting is configured on the ad group level for video campaigns. Unlike display campaigns, you can’t apply bid adjustments to targeting criteria; you can only target or exclude items. You can use any of the following criteria alone or layered together:

  • Placements: individual YouTube videos, YouTube channels, third-party websites, and apps
  • Keywords
  • Topics
  • Interests: Including In-Market Audiences and Affinity Audiences
  • Remarketing
  • Demographics: Age, Gender, Parental Status, and Household Income. Note that household income is only accessible in the demographics tab when using the new AdWords interface.

To find video ad placements, use the AdWords Display Planner and search for a term relevant to what you want to target.

Select “video” using the “Ad formats and sizes” filter. Now, you’ll see a breakdown of potential placements. If you’d like to specifically sift through YouTube videos and channels that allow ads, you’ll find these included in the “Videos” section, along with third-party sites that allow placements.

Once you’ve begun running your campaign, you can review performance for the targeting criteria in their respective tab. You can see the standard performance stats, along with video-specific stats such as views and view rate (percentage of video watched). Link your YouTube channel to AdWords for more complete video performance data, along with the opportunity to build remarketing audiences of video viewers.

Use the “Where Ads Showed” tab under “Placements” to review data for individual sites and videos where ads appeared. You can choose to exclude placements here. You’ll want to review these closely when using broader targeting such as remarketing or interests, watching for placements such as kids’ channels that likely indicate an irrelevant audience.

Lights, Camera, Action!

If you haven’t yet run any video campaigns, start with a small test using available video assets. Experiment with multiple types of video content and targeting and measure engagement and conversion performance.

What tips do you have for video advertising through AdWords? Share in the comments below!