How to Acquire Subscribers Through Paid Advertising on YouTube


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YouTube offers creators numerous opportunities to grow their subscriber base organically. However, as the competition for viewers’ attention continues to grow on the platform, paid YouTube advertising is becoming a viable alternative to kickstart audience growth. Choosing the most appropriate types of YouTube ads and implementing best practices is critical to maximize subscriber acquisition through paid ad campaigns.

Understanding YouTube advertising

Optimizing YouTube videos, embedding them on your brand’s website and sharing them on social media are excellent tools to help you grow your audience. However, if your goal is to ensure the right audience watches your content right now, adding YouTube advertising to the mix will support your growth quickly and predictably.

Although Google owns YouTube, there are some differences between Google ads and YouTube ads, starting with the ad formats creators can choose from.

  • Skippable in-stream adverts are perhaps the most widely known type of video advert on YouTube. These adverts normally play before the video the user has chosen. They can be skipped after five seconds. Advertisers only pay if the user continues watching for at least 30 seconds or interacts with the content — for example, by clicking on a call to action.

  • Non-skippable in-stream adverts are similar to their skippable equivalent in their placement. However, YouTube users have to wait for the advert to finish before their selected video starts.

  • In-feed video adverts appear at the top of video search pages, like pay-per-click adverts on Google itself. These ads are based on a cost-per-view pricing model, meaning you only pay if viewers interact with the video or watch more than 30 seconds of it.

  • Bumper video adverts are a short version of non-skippable YouTube ads. They cannot be longer than six seconds, and they play before the chosen video.

  • Overlay adverts hover at the bottom of the video that is currently playing. They work well as supplemental adverts to other forms of in-stream advertising.

As with Google ads, advertisers can place bids and therefore control their budget closely, making YouTube ads one of the most cost-effective ways to connect with highly targeted audiences.

Related: Why YouTube Ads Should Be in Your Advertising Budget

Setting campaign objectives

Before committing to a YouTube advertising campaign, you need to set campaign objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. This is known as SMART objectives. For example, planning to grow your subscriber base within the 18-49 age group by 20% over the next six months would be a smart objective.

The next step is to define key performance indicators (KPIs) to help measure your campaign’s success. If the goal is to acquire subscribers, KPIs could include the cost per subscriber, your overall conversion rate and your return on ad spend (ROAS).

Audience targeting and segmentation

YouTube offers a wide range of targeting options to help creators reach exactly the right audience for their content.

Targeting starts with considering basic audience demographics, such as age, gender and household income. Just a few years ago, the options would have been limited to these choices. However, today, YouTube offers advertisers access to more detailed demographics, including education, employment status and other criteria.

The platform also allows advertisers to specify their target audience’s interests and habits, whether they are actively interested in buying certain products, and previous interactions with a brand. Segmenting audiences like this helps spend your ad budget on the people most likely to buy.

Ad creative and messaging

It should almost go without saying that your artwork and messaging need to be optimized to resonate with the respective target audience. If you are targeting several different audience segments, consider separating your campaign into groups of adverts that can be tailored to those segments.

Remember to include a clear call to action. If the campaign aims to grow subscriber numbers, tell your audience that you want them to subscribe to your channel. Highlight the benefits of becoming a subscriber, and emphasize your channel’s value propositions throughout your artwork and your messages.

Ad placement and optimization

Carefully choose the type of advert that best suits your goal of growing your subscriber base. Bumper ads may be enough for some brands, while others perform better when using longer adverts. In most cases, ad placement will be driven by the need to maximize visibility and engagement.

Optimize your campaign performance for the best possible return on your investment. Choosing between advert bidding strategies such as cost per view or cost per click can influence how far your budget will stretch.

Scheduling adverts at different times also increases your opportunity to reach a wider audience. Over time, you will see which times work best, and then you can optimize your campaign even further.

Related: The Ad Messages and Methods That Work Best on YouTube

Monitoring and performance analysis

As your campaign runs, continuously monitor its performance by measuring the KPIs you defined earlier. YouTube advertising analytics tools allow you to access this information in real time. Evaluate ad impressions, view rates, click-through rates and subscriber numbers to check if you are on track to reach your goals.

Iteration and continuous improvement

As you monitor your adverts’ campaign performance, areas for improvement will become obvious. Brands that are new to YouTube advertising may spend more time iterating creatives, adjusting targeting parameters and adapting their bidding strategies.

Even seasoned YouTube advertisers continue to test their approach regularly, trying new hypotheses and ad variations to see if they can get even better returns over time.

Paid YouTube advertising gives creators and businesses powerful tools to reach their target audience and grow their subscriber base in a controlled, targeted manner.

Taking a strategic, data-driven approach and leveraging YouTube advertising analytics allows advertisers to finetune their approach in real time, grow their subscriber base with a highly engaged audience and increase the reach of their channels efficiently.

Related: Understanding YouTube Analytics — How to Leverage Data to Attract and Retain Subscribers

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