AdWords for Video: Growth and Optimization Guide

This final post in our series on AdWords for Video (AFV) will focus on how to get the most out of your video campaigns by optimizing to both growth and performance. Previous posts have highlighted the immense opportunity this platform provides for advertisers of all types, and have explored strategies and best practices for building out an effective YouTube presence via a combination of well built video campaigns and a great channel page.

Now let’s look at how to manage your campaigns for maximal value.


Optimizing to the right KPIs

Before you begin to explore ways to get more performance out of your campaigns, it’s crucial to be about the campaign’s goal.


  • Branding — Drive top-of-funnel visitors to your website or channel page. Video is a great first touchpoint due to it’s uniquely powerful ability to tell a story.
  • Direct Response / Sales — If you’re trying to drive sales with video ads, you’ll want to calibrate your expectations accordingly. (Video can be very useful for this purpose but be careful of expecting your AFV campaigns to produce the same direct response results as your Google Search Network or Remarketing campaigns.)
  • Content Marketing — Drive users to your channel page where you feature video resources that your target users will find helpful. For example, if you sell yo yos online, building out a channel page full of yo yo trick videos might be a good approach. Users will be provided with helpful info on yo yo tricks and will likely keep you in mind the next time they’re in market for a new yo yo.


Brand Metrics vs. Direct Response: Why not optimize to both?

While your content may differ based on the specific goals of your campaign—direct response being more product-specific, for example—be sure to keep an eye on both sets of metrics for video campaigns. After all, there is likely to be some branding effect no matter what kind of ads you run, so you should keep an eye on those metrics.

Top Direct Response Metrics for AFV:

  • Conversions
  • Conversion Value (revenue)
  • CPA
  • Conversion Rate

Top Branding Metrics for AFV:

  • View Rate — (Rate at which users opted not to skip your video)
  • Video Played To — (what percentage of the video was watched)
  • CTR — (Rate at which users clicked thru to your website)
  • Google Analytics Metrics — (for users who reached website)


Use Google Analytics Reports

Google Analytics now features custom reporting for AdWords for Video campaigns. The recent  addition of this report represents a major step forward for AFV tracking. Previously, a segmented view of video performance in Google Analytics had to be customized. The new default report shows AFV performance data separate from the rest of your AdWords data, and includes additional metrics which were previously unavailable in GA.

Use this report to understand how your video traffic is behaving on your website in the following ways.


  • Site Engagement and Behavior — Use this data to optimize your campaigns for better site engagement. Behavior metrics such as bounce rate, time on site, and pages viewed can be helpful here. Make sure you have enough data before you draw conclusions and make adjustments to your campaigns!
  • Micro-conversions – Of course, you should also be measuring macro-conversions with your video campaigns. This can be viewed in GA or the AFV user interface. But don’t forget about your micro-conversions as well. Actions like views of key pages, downloading e-books, signing up for a mailing list, all have value and should be measured for optimizing your campaigns.


Get More Traffic For Your Budget

Because of the reach on YouTube and the Google Display Network, it’s possible you could be getting more high quality traffic for your budget. You can easily test this by lowering your Max. cost-per-views for high performing campaigns until budget ceases to be met. You should monitor your KPIs while testing this to ensure you’re not just getting more low quality traffic for your budget. If you have a number of campaigns, each targeting a different segment, make sure you allocate budget wisely—maximizing reach of high performing campaigns before you expand to lower performing areas.


Build Remarketing Lists for the Google Display Network

It’s been mentioned before in this series, but bears repeating—AdWords for Video is a fantastic opportunity to build remarketing lists. Users who watched your ads in full, visited your channel page, and performed other meaningful actions, are absolutely worth targeting on the GDN. Similarly, use GDN remarketing lists to target users with video ads, or remarket to video traffic with additional video collateral (great for introducing your video traffic to new products or promotions!)


Monitor Organic traffic Lift

As you scale up your YouTube video marketing via paid advertising and well optimized channel page, you’ll likely start to see YouTube bringing more organic traffic to your website. Keep track of this. It can be very useful for the following reasons:

  • Gives a more complete picture of the actual value of your video marketing
  • Represents an opportunity for more cross-pollination between YouTube and your website
  • Grows your remarketing lists for Display and Search (RLSA) advertising


Top 15 Optimizations for AdWords for Video


1.) Segment campaigns for different targeting purposes and set unique KPIs for each

2.) Test multiple targeting methods against each other

3.) Combine targeting methods for tighter targeting and maximize reach of these segments

4.) Use YouTube analytics to optimize your channel page content and adjust advertising strategy accordingly

5.) Analyze YouTube social analytics and discussion content for qualitative data

6.) Consider setting placement and keyword exclusions to your campaigns — your reports will show data for both so you can easily eliminate low performing pages and terms

7.) Compare Network performance — YouTube vs. Google Display Network

8.) Compare performance between YouTube search and video page placements

9.) Compare performance between ad formats — In-stream vs. In-display  

10.) Test variations of your call-to-action overlay ads

11.) Optimize video remarketing lists by tying high performance to specific user actions and associated lists

12.) Set frequency caps for remarketing ads—always a crucial best practice!

13.) Optimize ad rotation settings—you can set to optimize to conversions, views, or rotate evenly for manual testing

14.) Set ad scheduling—only run ads at high performing times of day

15.) Set device targeting—unlike with Enhanced campaigns, AFV still provides the option for device exclusions.