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[Case Study] How Veeroll Does YouTube In-Stream Ads

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After Traffic & Conversion Summit Australia 2015, there was ONE word that we simply couldn’t get out of our heads…
Since then we’ve upped our retargeting game and guess what… it works as well as they said it would!
To give you a sneak peak of the results we’re getting…

The math involved here is simple:

Total Cost divided by Conversions + View-Through Conversions = Cost Per Lead

In this screenshot, you’re looking at a split test between 3 video ads of which the best performing one is costing us only $1.10 SGD (which equals about US $0.77 per lead*).
(*currency rate at the time of writing.)
Not too shabby!
In this 2-part guide I’m going to reveal not one but two successful strategies we’re using right now to run YouTube In-Stream Video Ad Campaigns.
You’ll learn:

  1. How to run an In-Stream Video Ad campaign to a list of Video Placements.
  2. How to setup a Retargeting Campaign for In-Stream Ads….including how to split test different video scripts!

Ready to get a sneak peak behind the Veeroll curtain?
Let’s go!

Method #1: Run YouTube In-Stream Ads to a List of Video Placements

You can consider video placement targeting as targeting a group of people that fall into the “cold” category.
If you’re thinking, hot…cold? Is this about that Katy Perry song?
Well… no!
Some people have simply never heard of you or your business (cold) and at the other end of the spectrum you have your loyal customers and brand ambassadors (hot).
(Credits to Molly Pittman for this excellent guide in which shares her insights on the three different temperatures and what it means for your advertising campaigns.)
So for method 1, we’re going for cold!
Now before we get started, let me refresh your memory:

An In-Stream Video Ad

  • Is an ad that starts playing in front of the video your target audience is watching.
  • Is skippable — You only pay when a viewer watches 30 seconds of your video (or the duration if it’s shorter than 30 seconds) or engages with your video, whichever comes first.
  • Can be used to send your viewer to another YouTube video or channel, but also to your own landing page.

A Video Placement

  • Is simply a video link, a URL to a video on YouTube that you can target directly with your In-Stream Ad Campaign (as long as it’s monetized).

So, why do we focus on targeting video placements, instead of keywords or interests?
Well, simply because it allows you to get insanely specific!
On YouTube, people aren’t just passively consuming content, they are actively looking for content, which means that targeting your campaign to those people can be extremely relevant.
For example someone might be searching for “how to fix a ….hole in the wall”
Now, if your product offers them a solution for that exact problem it makes a LOT of sense to run your ad on that specific video — It’s quite likely that your super duper wall-hole-fixer solution is going to appeal to the person that wants to get rid of that gaping hole. Right?
So, using placements means: laser precision targeting.
Together with using the right message and having a strong funnel in place this can be a highly lucrative strategy.
Let’s get straight into the nitty gritty of how to set this up.

Step 1: Create Your Video Ad(s)

Well… you’ll need a video.
Now, I hear you thinking, “Yeah, that’s all nice and well… but, but, but…

  • As if I have time to create those videos and/or…
  • As if I even WANT to be in my own video! What if video is not my thing?”

These are both legitimate concerns. Obviously as a business owner you have better things to do than to spend a gazillion hours a day recording/editing/re-recording a 1 min. video.
Luckily we’ve found out that spending a lot of time ór being featured in your own video ad ISN’T necessary.
At Veeroll we simply use video templates: pre created designs for which you only have to change the text, a style of music and optionally insert some of your own pictures.
That’s it…and it works like a charm!
To give you an example, this is a screenshot of the video ad we used for the In-Stream Ad Campaign I’m sharing with you today.
Since users can skip an In-Stream ad after 5 seconds you want to capture their attention INSTANTLY by addressing a big pain point. In this case our first line of text was, “Struggling to get traffic to your site”?
Then, in the following lines you want to make sure to keep them hooked by offering a hint to your solution whilst showing them it’s easy (and in this case free) to get started.
Now, today I won’t go way deep into the art of script writing (that’s a whole other post/book/library in itself) but if you want to up your script-writing-game, make sure to check out any of the following classic works:

Because your script can make or break your ad campaign, it’s a great idea to create several of them and do a split test. Luckily that’s very easy to setup inside AdWords and I’ll show you exactly how to do that in part 2 of this guide.
For now let’s move on with step 2.

Step 2: Collect Your Placements

When you build a campaign with placements, AdWords allows you a max. of 2,400 placements and a max. of 10 Target Groups per campaign.
To gather 2,400 placements quickly, we go inside the Veeroll interface and simply search for a keyword that is relevant for our target audience.
For this specific campaign our initial search phrase was “YouTube Video Ads”.
Because, anyone that is interested in learning more about either YouTube or Facebook Video Ads is likely interested in what Veeroll has to offer.
When you enter a keyword, our Target tool will then come up with suggestions for Target Lists with 240 placements each, related to this keyword.
When you scroll through the search results you’ll quickly see which phrases are relevant and which aren’t. For example, “how to create YouTube video ads” is a perfect keyword phrase for us as the placements inside those lists are exactly what our target audience is looking for.
But, a phrase like “how to block YouTube video ads” obviously isn’t! So, we simply select the 10 most relevant phrases and move on to the next step.
(NOTE: At first hand it may seem like this is the same as using keyword targeting, since we are indeed searching for keywords. However, in this case we simply use keywords to search for placements, which will give you a more precise result than just using keywords, as you have a lot more control over on which individual videos your ad will run.)

Step 3: Build Your Campaign

If you’re a Veeroll member you can use our Campaign Builder to quickly export your entire campaign. But, you can also create it from inside AdWords, which I’ll show you how to do right now.
First you’ll have to start by logging into your AdWords account and then click on All Video Campaigns.
Now, If you don’t see this tab in your account just yet, no stress!
This simply means it’s the first time you’re creating a video ad and you still have to activate it.
(To do this, click on the red +Campaign button, and then on Online Video. When you then create a dummy campaign and pause it immediately, your All Video Campaigns tab will be available).
Once you’re in in All Video Campaigns you’ll once again see a big red campaign + button that you can click et voilà…. you can start building your campaign!
Below I will walk you through each of the different fields you need to fill in or edit:

  • Campaign Name: it’s always smart to use a name that means something to you! Once you’re running a dozen or more campaigns it will become hard to remember what’s what, so using a formula for your titles is recommended. For example: your initials (if you work with a team) + type of campaign + used keyword phrase …or something else that’s way smarter.
  • Budget: for In-Stream Ad Campaigns we recommend starting with a budget of $20 a day. Does that mean you can’t start with a smaller budget? Yes you can, but we’ve noticed that this type of budget often helps to kickstart the campaign. Of course, feel free to test out whatever budget you’re comfortable with.
  • Networks: Here we choose only YouTube Videos. This is because with partner sites we don’t have control over whether our Call To Action or annotations will be clickable. Since we don’t want to run a bunch of ads to people who can’t click on them (d’oh), we leave this box unchecked… safety first!


  • Locations: here you need to enter the countries/cities or regions you want to target. In case you’re running a local business you can even choose to only run your ads to people that are located within a certain radius of your company. Of course your reach will then naturally be lower.
  • Languages: the same goes for languages. If your whole website is in Archi (yes that exists!), it can be a good idea to target only people who’ve set their main language to Archi. But, in case you’re using a language (like English) that a ton of people understand, this is less important. For example, a huge part of the world may not have their first language set to English, but they might still understand it well enough to be interested in your product.


  • Video Ad: This is where you’ll enter your unique video link, the ad you’ve created that is hosted on Youtube. You can set this ad to unlisted if you don’t want your subscribers to see it and just want to use it as an ad. Once you enter the link you’ll get a little preview to make sure you’ve selected the right one.
  • Display URL: Your display URL is the little link that will show up on the bottom left on the screen, in other words the link that is “displayed” to the viewer, something like:
  • Final URL: Your Final URL is the link that people will go to when they click on your ad. This could be something like, BUT it can’t be hosted on a different root domain than your main website.

(NOTE: AdWords can be quite strict when it comes to landing pages. You generally won’t get away with an empty squeeze page that only has an email opt-in box in the middle… unless it’s hosted on a site that already has high authority. It pays off to spend some time on creating a great landing page! Not only to get Adwords’ “approval”, but generally to offer your users a good experience, which builds trust in your brand. Check out this post and this post by Justin Rondeau to start rolling in the right direction.)

  • In-Display: We uncheck the in-display setting because we prefer to run tests with In-stream and In-display ads separately, so we can use a different type of video for each campaign.
  • Mobile Bid Adjustment: By default your ad will run on all types of devices. But if you want to, you can change the mobile bid adjustment to stop it from showing on mobile devices. For our test we used a video template that had a Call To Action button optimized for desktop devices. That’s why we chose to decrease our mobile bid adjustment by 100% (which means it WON’T show on mobile phones).

Below that you’ll see an area called Advanced Settings. For this campaign we don’t change any of these and just move on to the next step by clicking Save and Continue!
For our retargeting campaign we will look at those settings (Frequency Capping in particular), but more on that in part 2…
On the second page you will see the following steps:

  • Name: For our name we typically choose the keyword that we used as the initial search phrase, which makes it easy to remember later.
  • Bidding: To get started we recommend to set your CPV to 0.20 cents or higher. For industries that are competitive it can work well to bid a little higher, for example 0.50 cents or even a dollar. This doesn’t mean you will actually pay that much for each view, but it will increase your chances of getting into the “bidding game”.

We’re getting there!
Once you select Narrow Your Targeting you’ll see a few different options. As I’ve mentioned, in this article we are specifically covering Placement targeting and Retargeting.
So, all you have to do here is click Placements.
Then, the following window will open up, allowing you to copy/paste all of your placements.
Inside Veeroll we have an easy feature that allows you to export your campaign in one go (which significantly speeds up the process), but now you also know how to do it manually!
Tadaa! It’s time to click Done — you’ve created your campaign!
Once you’re there’s only 1 thing you need…
… patience!
Yeah I know, who has patience? Well, it’s not too bad but you DO have to be aware of the fact that:

  1. You’ll have to wait for your campaign to be approved by AdWords. Until then it will show as “not yet serving”.
  2. Then, you’ll have to wait for the first data to come in, which can take about 24 hours. If you don’t see views before that, no need to start harassing the AdWords support team just yet!

The Results

It’s time for some results.
I’ve shared with you both the settings we generally recommend as well as the settings we used for this specific test campaign.
Below you’ll see a snapshot of our results from the ad we ran to a target audience that is interested in “YouTube Video Ads” (the keyword phrase we started with in Step 2).

To get a quick understanding of how our ad is performing we simply:

  1. Look at the total cost
  2. Divide it by the TOTAL amount of conversions + view-through conversions.

For this test that means we’re ending up with a cost per lead of $3.15 SGD, which equals US $2.22.
Not too bad for a bunch of “cold” peeps that had never heard of us, right?
Below you’ll see that for our retargeting campaign, the cost per lead is a LOT lower.
(In case you were wondering (I know you are)…. the difference between a conversion and a view-through conversion is that in the latter case someone has converted before the “view” was counted, or in other words before the 30-second mark. Or, 3rd variation: they didn’t even watch the whole thing but clicked through anyway!)

What Have We Learned?

The why: Use video placements to get insanely specific with your targeting.
The how:

  1. Create your Video Ad(s).
  2. Collect your Placements: max. 2400 of them, divided over max. 10 Target Groups.
  3. Build Your Campaign!

Got it?
Now it’s time to take a look at how to run YouTube In-Stream Ads to a Retargeting list — a strategy you can’t afford to skip.

Method #2: Run YouTube In-Stream Ads to a Retargeting List

Video Ads and Retargeting are both highly effective in their own right, but the ground might start quaking if you combine them!
So, let’s dive in to the HOW straight away.

Step 1: Create Your Video Ad(s)

Again, it all starts with a video!
For a retargeting campaign you’ll likely approach this a little differently than when you’re targeting video placements.
After all, this time you’re running your video ad to people who have already visited your website. So, it pays off to think of what it would be that would entice this group of (warm) people to take another look at your product.
For this specific test we started with a video ad in which we introduced a new feature; our Facebook Video Ad templates. As the chance is quite high that a lot of our previous website visitors didn’t know about this feature yet, we wanted to let them know now.
In addition to that we also created 2 other video ads, in which we focused more on the various problems our product solves.
More specifically:

  • Video Ad 1 focused on our new feature: Facebook Video Ad templates.
  • Video Ad 2 focused on the pain point that advertising is generally expensive.
  • Video Ad 3 focused on the pain point that people don’t have time to create their own video ads.

Again, we simply chose one of our video templates to set it up quickly.

Step 2: Install the Retargeting Tag

This time we’re not collecting placements in Step 2. Instead we’re going to create a Retargeting List.
To able to run campaigns to Retargeting Lists on the Google network, the very first thing you need is to install your Retargeting Tag. This a snippet of code you install on your website so it can start tracking cookies.
You can find your Retargeting Tag in All Online Campaigns -> Shared Library -> Audiences -> View.
When you click on Tag Details -> Setup -> View AdWords tag for websites, you’ll find the code you need to install on your website.
After you’ve installed it, the first Retargeting List “All Visitors” will automatically be created.
Depending on the amount of traffic you’re currently getting it can take anywhere from a day, a week or longer to fill up. You can’t use this retargeting list until there are 100 or more people on it, but that shouldn’t have to take too long.

Step 3: Build Your Campaign

Now, it’s time to build your campaign once again.
A big part of this process will be exactly the same as for video placement targeting. Therefore I will only focus on what’s different.
When you’re building a retargeting campaign the following settings change:

  1. Location and Languages
  2. Frequency Capping
  3. and of course, your targeting method: remarketing instead of placements.

Locations and Languages: we recommend to set this to All Countries and Territories and All Languages. As you’re targeting people that have previously visited your website, it’s safe to assume they are interested enough to retarget, regardless of their location or language.
Frequency Capping: this one matters! If you’re retargeting on YouTube, it means that you’re not running your ad on specific placements, but (potentially) on every video that your audience is watching. If they’re active YouTubers that might mean they will see your message a gazillion times a day, which can get KINDA annoying.
Since you want to remind them of your awesome product and not annoy them, it’s wise to limit the amount of times each unique user will see your ad. Of course this depends on your own strategy and insights and there are no fixed rules here. For our test campaign we used a limit of 2 impressions per day to each unique user.
And then the last step, your Targeting!
This is simply a matter of selecting Remarketing from the list below on the 2nd page when you’re building your campaign.
Once your Retargeting Tag is properly installed, AdWords will create your first Retargeting List, “All Website Visitors”, automatically, which will show up on the list.
Then, once you click Add and Done your campaign will be created!
You can now go to Ads and add the other videos that you want to use for your test. Yep, that’s right! Creating a split test is as easy as that.

What Have We Learned?

In other words, the steps you need to take to get your retargeting campaign up and running are:

  1. Create Your Video(s).
  2. Install your Retargeting Tag.
  3. Build Your Campaign with your first Retargeting List: All Visitors.

Easy peasy.
Once your Retargeting Tag is performing its magic you’ll be able to create a lot more Retargeting Lists, based on rules like specific pages people visited (or didn’t visit) on your website …etc.
The sky’s the limit with how specific you can get!
And, hot tip of the day: even if you’re NOT planning on doing retargeting just yet, make sure to get that piece of code on your website ASAP. Because once it’s there it will save those cookies for you for anywhere up to 540 days.

The Results

Alright, time to get into the data again.
In the Videos tab of your campaign you can see how your video ad(s) is/are performing.

Here we can see that video Script 3 is performing best, and has a cost per lead of $1.10 SGD/ US $0.77 per lead (vs. the $2.22 per lead in our first campaign)!
Did we mention retargeting was a good idea?!
Yep! So, is there anything stopping you from testing this out yourself?
Of course there are a lot more approaches you can take to reduce your costs even further. For now I hope you have enough information and inspiration to get started with your own YouTube In-Stream Ad Campaigns.
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Anja Kicken

Anja Kicken

Anja Kicken is Content Manager at - software that allows you to quickly build effective Youtube and Facebook Video Ad Campaigns. She's passionate about marketing, technology and music. And, she's from the Netherlands, where they don't wear clogs and smoke weed as much as you might think!

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