YouTube Advertising: A Guide to YouTube Ads Targeting

As a YouTube ads agency we how important the art of targeting is for any media buying program. In the dynamic realm of YouTube advertising, mastering the art of effective audience targeting is paramount for campaign success.

With recent changes transforming the landscape, navigating these waters has become more challenging yet rewarding. This guide aims to clarify these changes and new targeting options, equipping you with the knowledge to boost your campaigns.

Demographic Targeting

Groups & Detailed Demographics

Demographic targeting in ads on YouTube enables advertisers (like you) to reach specific groups based on age, gender, parental status, and income level.

For example, a luxury car brand may hone in on higher-income groups, while a toy company could focus on young parents.

To create audience groups based on demographics, start by setting up a new campaign.

When creating a new campaign, navigate to the ad group settings and locate the "people" section, where you can add a new audience. Doing so allows you to select the desired age range, gender, etc. for you to target your audience.

Additionally, under "Additional Demographics," you can further refine your audience targeting by selecting parameters such as education level and home ownership status.

Setting up Groups & Detailed Demographics targeting for YouTube ads involves the following steps:

  1. Access Google Ads: Start by signing in to your Google Ads account. If you don't have one, you'll need to create an account.
  2. Create a New Campaign: In your Google Ads dashboard, click on the "+ Campaign" button to create a new campaign.
  3. Select Campaign Type: Choose the campaign type that aligns with your advertising goals. For YouTube ads, you can select options like "Video," "Discovery," or "Bumper."
  4. Choose Campaign Subtype: Depending on your objectives, select the campaign subtype. For detailed demographics and grouping, "Custom" campaigns are often suitable.
  5. Campaign Settings: Configure your campaign settings, including the campaign name, budget, bidding strategy, and start/end dates.
  6. Create an Ad Group: Within your campaign, you'll create ad groups. Each ad group can have its targeting settings. Click on the "+ Ad Group" button to create a new ad group.
  7. Set Up Ad Group: Give your ad group a name and choose the type of ad you want to run, such as "In-stream" or "Discovery" ad format.
  8. Choose a budget and bidding strategy that matches your campaign goals for the ad group's daily budget.
  9. Choose YouTube Videos: Select the YouTube videos or channels where you want your ads to appear. You can also choose specific placements for more control.
  10. Demographic Targeting: Under the ad group settings, scroll down to "Demographics." Here, you can choose the age, gender, parental status, and household income of your target audience.
  11. Detailed Demographics: To set up detailed demographics targeting, click on the "Edit" button next to "Demographics." You'll find options like education, marital status, and homeownership status. Choose the demographics that align with your audience.
  12. Save & Review: After setting up your ad group, save your changes. Then, review your campaign settings to ensure they align with your target preferences.
  13. Create Ads: Finally, you'll need to create your YouTube ads within the ad group. Upload your video, add ad copy, and set your ad targeting preferences, such as keywords and interests.
  14. Launch Campaign: Once everything is set up, click "Save" and then "Launch Campaign" to start running your YouTube ads with the chosen demographic and detailed demographics targeting.

Remember that understanding your audience and aligning your ad content with their interests and behaviors is key. Regularly monitor your campaign performance and make adjustments as needed to optimize your YouTube ads for better results.

Life Events and Detailed Demographics

Diving deeper into audience personalization comes life events and detailed demographics targeting. When creating a youtube ad on youtube, selecting this option allows you to target users experiencing significant life changes like graduations, marriages, or relocations.

For instance, a home furnishing company can pinpoint individuals who recently moved.

To access this targeting option:

  • Go to the audience section and create a new audience.
  • Within the 'interest and detailed demographic' section,  select the life event targeting options that are relevant to your campaign.

Language & Geography Targeting

This option allows you to further target your audience by selecting the audience's language and location. You can even drop a pin on a map and choose a radius around the location you want to target.

Keep in mind that excluding specific languages or locations is equally important. For instance, if your target is Canada and your offer is in English, it's wise to exclude all languages except English. This is because a significant portion of Canada's population speaks French, and some may not understand English at all.

By excluding irrelevant languages or locations, you can ensure your message reaches the intended audience effectively.

Expansion Targeting: Embracing New Audiences

Expansion targeting aims to extend the reach of your campaigns by delving into similar audiences and optimized targeting. It enables advertisers to engage potential customers beyond their initial target group. This strategy proves particularly beneficial for new product launches or businesses seeking to grow their customer base.

Let's break this down for you:

Optimized and Similar Audiences in YouTube Ads

Optimized Targeting, part of YouTube's expansion strategy, leverages algorithms to reach wider yet relevant audiences.

This approach is especially handy for rapidly growing video campaigns, surpassing manual selections to pinpoint segments that enhance performance.

Similarly, Similar Audience Targeting empowers advertisers to reach potential customers who resemble their existing audience, amplifying ad campaign precision and effectiveness.

What sets this apart, you might wonder?

It uses machine-learning algorithms on to analyze your current customers' behaviors and interests to find similar users! To make this even better, Google has enhanced similar audience targeting on YouTube Ads. By improving the algorithm, it now better identifies engaged users, and introduced fresh targeting options based on user behavior.

Advertisers can now target users based on actions like watching videos or visiting websites for personalized campaigns. These updates render similar audience targeting on YouTube Ads even more potent and adaptable for advertisers.

Interest-Based Targeting in YouTube Ads

This section emphasizes the power of interest-based targeting in YouTube ads; it prioritizes connecting with audiences who share specific interests, behaviors, and preferences, resulting in more personalized and pertinent ads.

Choosing either of these categories can help you narrow down your audience:

  • Affinity targeting;
  • Custom Affinity; and
  • In-Market Segment targeting.

Here are some examples on when best to choose either of the mentioned interest-based targeting.

Affinity Targeting

Choose affinity targeting when you want to introduce your brand to a wide audience and create awareness. This is perfect especially during the initial stages of your marketing strategy.

For example: if you sell outdoor gear, this can help you reach people who enjoy outdoor activities. It can also help you reach people who are new to your brand.

Custom Affinity

Opt for custom affinity when you have a more specific audience in mind. This is effective for reaching a niche market.

If affinity creates awareness, custom affinity targets those already deeply interested in the subject.


In-Market Segment Targeting

This one's for those who are actively searching for products or services similar to your offer. These are users who diligently researches and compares products.

That being said, use this targeting type to drive conversions and sales!

To set up custom affinity segments on YouTube ads:

  1. Go to your Google Ads account and select your desired YouTube ads campaign.
  2. Click on the "Audiences" tab and then select "Custom Affinity Audiences."
  3. Click the "+ New Custom Affinity Audience" button.
  4. Name your custom affinity audience and add a description (optional).
  5. Add interests and URLs related to your target audience. You can enter up to 50 interests and 50 URLs.
  6. Review your custom affinity audience and click "Create."

Things to consider when creating custom affinity segments:

  • Creating custom affinity segments requires more effort and time compared to using the pre-made affinity segments.
  • Additionally, the success of the campaign heavily relies on the accuracy of the chosen interests or behaviors.

With this information, you can (now) make your YouTube ad campaign work better and reach the right audience when it matters most!

Retargeting in YouTube Ads

Here is another best practice in our Youtube ads agency - retargeting. This is a valuable tool for reconnecting with people who've shown interest in your brand before. This could be website visitors or YouTube channel viewers.

With data segments and customer match, advertisers can customize their messages for these audiences based on their past actions.

For example, you can retarget users who looked at a specific product on your site with a special deal for that product. To achieve this, use website retargeting. This will target users who visited your site.

Alternatively, you can also use video retargeting to target users who engaged with your YouTube channel or videos.

This focused approach often leads to more conversions and cost-effective advertising.

Target Mapping and Best Practices in YouTube Ads

Effective YouTube advertising relies on smart target mapping.

Start by focusing on specific audiences like remarketing groups and customer matches. These tend to give the best results.

You can also further expand your reach by targeting broader audiences as your campaigns continue. Those interested in your niche or industry should be first on your priority list to target.

We also suggest to test different approaches to make the most out (or reach) of your YouTube advertising campaign (or goals).

Wrapping Up

In the world of YouTube advertising, mastering the art of effective audience targeting is the key to success. With recent changes transforming the landscape, this guide has equipped you with the knowledge to boost your campaigns.

Let's recap what we've covered:

  • Demographic Targeting: We explored how to reach specific groups based on age, gender, parental status, and income level. This ensures your message resonates with the right audience.
  • Groups & Detailed Demographics: We delved into creating audience groups based on demographics and fine-tuning your targeting with parameters like education level and home ownership status.
  • Life Events and Detailed Demographics: We discussed targeting users undergoing significant life changes, such as graduations or relocations, for personalized campaigns.
  • Language & Geography Targeting: We learned how to target based on language and location, ensuring your message reaches the intended audience effectively.
  • Expansion Targeting: We explored expansion targeting, which broadens your campaign's reach by engaging new audiences, a great strategy for product launches and business growth.
  • Optimized and Similar Audiences: We explained how optimized targeting and similar audience targeting utilize machine-learning algorithms to reach wider yet relevant audiences, improving ad precision and effectiveness.
  • Interest-Based Targeting: We highlighted the power of interest-based targeting, including Affinity targeting, Custom Affinity, and In-Market Segment targeting. Knowing when to use each type can help you create more personalized and effective ads.
  • Retargeting in YouTube Ads: We discussed the value of retargeting to reconnect with past website visitors and YouTube channel viewers, ultimately leading to more conversions and cost-effective advertising.
  • Target Mapping and Best Practices: We emphasized the importance of smart target mapping, starting with specific audiences like remarketing groups and gradually expanding to broader ones while testing different approaches for optimal campaign results.

With this knowledge, you're well-equipped to take your YouTube advertising campaigns to the next level. Remember, success in YouTube advertising comes from understanding your audience, staying informed about changes, and consistently optimizing your campaigns.

Best of luck with your YouTube ad-ventures! 🚀

Download Our Comprehensive YouTube Targeting Guide

Want to dive deeper into the world of YouTube advertising? We've got just the resource for you! Download our comprehensive YouTube Targeting Guide for free and unlock a treasure trove of insights and strategies. 

This guide is meticulously crafted to help you master the art of YouTube ad targeting, offering detailed walkthroughs, advanced techniques, and practical tips. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned marketer, this guide is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to optimize their YouTube advertising campaigns. 

Get your free copy today and take your YouTube advertising to the next level!

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