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The YouTube Ads Grid: A 3-Step System to Build YouTube Ads Campaigns that Generate More Leads & Sales

Want to hit a home run on your next YouTube ads campaign?

Then you’ll need to combine the right targeting options with a great ad that’s tailor-made for each specific audience.

And in this post, you’re going to discover how to do just that.

You’ll learn how to build YouTube ads campaigns that effectively target prospects in all three phases of the buying cycle using my brand-new “YouTube Ads Grid.”

You can swipe a PDF download of the YouTube Ads Grid HERE.

Here’s what it looks like:

The YouTube Ads Grid

I’m sharing…

  • What kind of targeting options to use to reach viewers in all 3 of these phases
  • What kind of video ad to use to really speak to those viewers

…so you can maximize your conversions and sales.

But before we get into the nuts and bolts of how to use the YouTube Ads Grid, there’s one thing you have to understand first.

And that is: 

Why do people go to YouTube in the first place?

This is a critical question we have to answer before we can effectively start online advertising to people on YouTube…

The 4 Reasons Why People Go to YouTube

Why do people go to YouTube? What are they looking for?

Well, there’s no one right answer to that question. No single answer that will work for everyone.

After all, YouTube is a huge site with many different types of videos.

And someone who watches a video called “Peaceful Morning Yoga” is probably on YouTube for a different reason than someone watching a video called “Greatest Trick Plays in Football History.”

But when you take a close look at the videos and searches on YouTube, you realize you can start to simplify them. To categorize them.

See, when someone goes to YouTube looking for something, they’re in a moment of time. A moment of need—a moment when they want to know, do, buy, or be inspired by something.

And there are 4 primary “moments” that bring people to YouTube:

The 4 reasons people go to YouTube

“I Want to Watch What I’m Into” Moments

The first reason why people go to YouTube is to keep up-to-date on content they care about.

Many people find it inspiring to follow thought leaders on topics they’re passionate about.

For example, if you’re a marketer (like me), you might follow great marketers like Gary Vaynerchuk on YouTube as a way to keep up with new digital advertising trends.

Gary Vee YouTube page

“I Want to Know” Moments

The second reason people go to YouTube is simply to learn. Because they want to KNOW something.

They want to explore a topic and discover more information about it.

For example, if you want to learn more about quantum physics—and who doesn’t?—whether it’s just for school or your own personal information, you could simply search YouTube for “quantum physics.”

You’ll see plenty of informational videos that break down the theory of quantum physics for curious science buffs like you.

Quantum Theory YouTube video

“I Want to Do” Moments

The third reason why people go to YouTube is to DO something—to build something, create something, fix something, and so on.

In many cases, people go to YouTube because they’re looking for a how-to video that will walk them through a tutorial or demonstration showing them how to do the task in question.

For example, pretend that you’re stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire.

Bummer, I know.

And for the sake of this example, let’s pretend that you don’t know how to put on the spare tire. You’ve never done it before.

Fortunately, all you have to do is open your YouTube app and search “how to change a flat tire.”

Search for "How to change a flat tire" on YouTube

You’ll get a quick walkthrough video that shows you exactly how to change your tire. You’ll be back behind the wheel and on your way in 15 minutes flat.

“I Want to Buy” Moments

The fourth and final reason people go to YouTube is they want to BUY something and they’re looking for information. Whether it’s… 

  • Reviews
  • Unboxings
  • Or product comparisons

…to help them make a buying decision.

For an example here, let’s say you want to buy a Bluetooth speaker… but you don’t know which brand or model to go with.

In that case, you might search for “best Bluetooth speakers” on YouTube.

A search for the best Bluetooth Speakers

You’ll see tons of comparison and review videos that will give you the opportunity to actually listen to these speakers in a side-to-side comparison.

Watching videos like this is often one of the last steps people take before they make a final purchasing decision.

How to Build YouTube Ads Campaigns Step 1: Identify Your Viewers’ Mindset & Shopping Mode

OK, you now know the 4 main “moments” that bring people to YouTube.

So, what should you do with that information?

The first step in the YouTube Ads Grid is to map those “moments” to your viewers’ mindset and shopping mode.

In order to do that, I’m going to compare YouTube viewers to traditional in-store shoppers. And in a brick-and-mortar store, you have three main types of shoppers:

The different thoughts of different types of buyers
  1. Window shoppers are people who are interested enough to look through the window at your products but haven’t yet come inside
  2. In-store shoppers are people who are inside the store and browsing through your products
  3. Checkout shoppers are people who are standing in line at the register because they’re ready to make a purchase

Make sense?


Now let’s see how those traditional in-store shoppers compare to people on YouTube.

Window Shoppers

Window shoppers may not be “shopping,” per se. They might just be walking by.

But they are, at the very least, INTERESTED in whatever is you offer. (Otherwise, they wouldn’t be peeping in through the window.)

In YouTube terms, these people fit into the “I Want to Watch What I’m Into” moment.

They’re not necessarily looking to make a purchase just now, but their high-interest level makes them a good group of prospective customers.

In-Store Shoppers

Unlike window shoppers, in-store shoppers are actually in your store. They’re looking around. They’re interested right now.

They might still end up leaving your store without making a purchase…

…but they’re in there for a reason. They’ve got their eye on something.

In YouTube terms, these people fit into the “I Want to Know” or “I Want to Do” moments.

They’re actively searching for something relevant to whatever it is you sell.

Checkout Shoppers

Checkout shoppers are ready to buy. It’s been decided.

If they have any uncertainty remaining, it’s not IF they should buy… but WHAT they should buy.

In YouTube terms, these people fit into the (you guessed it!) “I Want to Buy” moments.

Typically, these people are comparing 2 or more brands or models.

They know they want a TV, they’re just trying to decide between Panasonic or Samsung. They know they want a new mattress, they’re just trying to decide between pillow-top and memory foam.

Because they’re so close to making a purchase, these are an important group of people to get your ads in front of.

How to Build YouTube Ads Campaigns Step 2: Determine the Right Targeting Options

Now we’ve grouped your viewers into 3 main categories based on where they are in the typical shopping cycle.

The next thing we need to figure out is:

How do we reach people in these specific categories on YouTube?

The answer, of course, lies in the AdWords targeting options inside your campaign.

Here is how to set up your campaigns to reach people in all 3 shopping modes:

How to set up your YouTube Ad campaigns to reach people in all 3 shopping modes

How to Target Window Shoppers on YouTube

To target window shoppers, you need to find people who have demonstrated a longstanding interest in a certain topic (though not necessarily a recent interest).

Here are 3 ways to do that using YouTube ads:

1. Use Affinity Audiences

Affinity Audiences are a lot like interest targeting—you can show your ads in front of people who have demonstrated an interest in a certain topic based on their browsing and search history.

As of this writing, there are 143 Affinity Audiences available, but more are being added all the time.

2. Use Similar Audiences

Similar audiences are a lot like Facebook lookalike audiences.

This is where you upload a customer or remarketing list to Google, and it goes out and finds people who are similar to the people on that list.

It’s another great way to discover new a new audience of people who may be interested in your content.

3. Use Custom Affinity Audiences

This is where you build your own Affinity Audience based on a combination of several different factors.

For example, you could build a custom Affinity Audience based on certain keywords and URLs that people have visited.

I’ve actually written an entire blog post on how to do this, called Google Custom Affinity Audiences: Scale Your Campaigns and Reach Converting Customers in 3 Steps.

How to Target In-Store Shoppers on YouTube

In-store shoppers may or may not know who you are… so how do you get in front of them?

Typically, you need to do some research to find out what they’re looking for and go put your paid ads in those places.

1. Use Keyword Targeting

What search terms are people using to research your niche or industry?

By doing a little research to create a list of relevant keywords, you can easily get your ads in front of anyone who has recently searched for these terms—be it on YouTube or Google.

The more directly relevant the keywords are to your product or service, the better.

(RELATED: Our Favorite Keyword Research Tools (17 Tools Every SEO Needs) )

2. Use Placement Targeting

This targeting option allows you to place your ads on particular YouTube videos or channels.

This is another way of getting your content in front of people who have demonstrated an interest in a topic relevant to your business.

A side bonus of placement targeting is that you can show your ads on your competitors’ videos and potentially convince some of their prospects to choose you instead!

3. Use Topics Targeting

YouTube categorizes all their videos into certain topics.

And if one of these topics is relevant to you, then that makes it a great targeting option to test out in your campaigns.

How to Target Checkout Shoppers on YouTube

Checkout shoppers are in the shopping mindset, so when targeting these shoppers, your focus should be on getting in front of viewers who have demonstrated an interest in buying your product or service.

1. Use “In-Market Audiences”

In-market audiences is Google’s way of identifying people who are “in the market” for a particular product or service. This is based on a person’s online behavior and search history over the past 7–14 days.

For example, if you have been looking at hotels, flights, and car rentals, then Google will probably determine that you’ll be traveling soon—and put you in the “In-Market Audience” for travel.

Typically, these people are fairly close to making a purchase, making them a good audience to show your ads to.

(RELATED: 3 Advanced AdWords Tactics That Increase ROI)

2. Use Website Remarketing

This one is pretty self-explanatory.

By retargeting people who have already visited your site (and particularly if they have visited a product page, sales page, or checkout page), you know you’ll be targeting a warm audience that already knows who you are.

3. Use Video Remarketing

This allows you to remarket to people who have already seen your videos on YouTube.

Allowing you to get back in front of them and convince them to take the plunge and buy your product or service.

Combining Targeting Options

Finally, keep in mind that you can always combine these targeting options.

So, you could combine a similar audience with topics targeting to show your ads to an even more focused group of people.

How to Build YouTube Ads Campaigns Step 3: Create Effective Ads for Each Step in the Shopping Cycle

To recap, we now know the 3 types of shoppers—window shoppers, in-store shoppers, and checkout shoppers…

…and we know how to target those three groups on YouTube. 

The final thing we need to discuss is what kind of video ad you should show people in each of these shopping categories.

Because think about it: a good salesman wouldn’t say the same thing to a person peeking in the window as they would to a person standing in the checkout line, would they?

Of course not!

If you want to convert shoppers into customers…

…You need to give them a message that is tailored to the SPECIFIC shopping category they’re in.

And here’s how you do that on YouTube:

How to Create YouTube Ads for Window Shoppers

When creating paid ads for window shoppers, you want to deliver an ATTENTION-based video.

Your goal is to really grab the viewer’s attention.

One great way to do that is to be super, super relevant.

If they’re watching a video by Gary Vaynerchuk, for example, then make your ad as relevant as possible to the content of that video.

You might even start your ad by saying:

“Look, before you watch another Gary Vaynerchuk video, here are three things you can do to really improve…”

Can you see how a pre-roll ad like that might really grab someone’s attention as they’re about to watch a Gary Vaynerchuk video?

One thing to keep in mind is that your targeting options will play a role in how relevant your ad can be.

If you’re targeting a specific channel, for example, then you can do what I just described. You can tailor your ad to that specific channel’s audience.

But if you’re targeting an Affinity Audience, on the other hand, your ad will have to be a lot more general—because, in that case, you don’t know exactly what kind of video the person is watching.

And that means you will have to have a better ad, a stronger ad, from a creative aspect.

Generally speaking, the less relevant your ad is to the video, the better it will have to be to grab the viewer’s attention.

So, how do you grab someone’s attention in a video ad?

We recommend using this 2-step pattern interrupt:

  • Start out by doing something different in your video, so it makes people stop and pay attention
  • Then, once you have their attention, immediately give them some great advice—teach them something new

Bonus points if you can do this using a story that will make the advice more memorable.

Extra bonus points if that story connects the advice to your brand in the viewer’s mind.

How to Create YouTube Ads For In-Store Shoppers

When creating ads for in-store shoppers, always lead with ADVICE.

These people are going to YouTube and looking for information. 

So, if you show them an ad with a strong call-to-action (CTA) to “BUY NOW,” that’s going to go in one ear and out the other.

They’re not looking to make a purchase (at least not yet). They’re looking for information. So give them information.

Perhaps you can give a 3-step demonstration showing how your product works to solve their problem. Or maybe give them some advice on what they should do; give them a case study or an example.

Anything that will make them feel like you aren’t SELLING to them—you’re giving them really good content.

You want them to think: “That was awesome. What’s next?”

The final CTA in your video should be for them to take the next logical step with your company…

…BUT that CTA needs to be congruent with the information you just shared with them.

So, if the video was a demonstration of your product, maybe the CTA is: “Click here to learn more about this product.”

If it was a case study or example, maybe the CTA is: “Click here to see more case studies.”

A top tip here is to “future pace” the CTA. Tell the viewer what they should experience once they click the button on the video and really spell out what you’d like them to do.

Also, remember to inform the viewer of what they stand to gain if they do take action and what they stand to lose (without being a jerk) should they not take action.

How to Create YouTube Ads For Checkout Shoppers

When creating ads for checkout shoppers, the name of the game is ACTION.

You don’t need a whole lot of persuasion at this point because people already know who you are. They’re already close to making a purchase.

Instead, you want to show these people a video that’s short and sweet and moves them to take action.

If you’re targeting people who have already visited your product page or checkout page, you might want to give them some incentive to take action by offering a discount on your product or service.

Or maybe you give them a slightly different offer instead.

Your goal here is to reactivate that desire in them to take action and make their purchase NOW.

What’s Next?

Let’s say you’ve shown an ad to a window shopper.

You grabbed their attention and gave them some advice. They now know a little more about your company and have a higher opinion of your brand.

What do you do next?

The answer is right here in the YouTube Ads Grid:

Basically, people progress along this grid from left to right.

So, if you’ve shown someone an “Attention” ad, the next step should be to show them an “Advice” ad.

Once they’ve seen an “Advice” ad, show them an “Action” ad.

By following this natural shopping progression, you’ll give your viewers an easy, friction-free experience that will naturally lead them to make a purchase.

And don’t forget to download your copy of the YouTube Ads Grid here!

Tom Breeze

Tom Breeze

Tom Breeze is a YouTube Advertising expert. He’s an entrepreneur, speaker, author and founder of Viewability. Viewability work with the likes of Frank Kern, Amy Porterfield, Neil Patel, Brendon Burchard and many international brands, building and running thousands of campaigns for clients from many industries across the world, testing and tracking all of the results. Do you want to find out if YouTube ads will work for you? All you need to do is answer 3 simple questions and Tom and his team can give you a full breakdown of whether your customers are on YouTube, how to get in front of them and what video ads might be best for you. Find out if YouTube ads will work for you by clicking on this link.

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