YouTube is the second largest search engine.

If you’re not advertising on YouTube then you are potentially missing out on some serious conversions.

Money shooting out of a computer screen with the YouTube logo displayed.
Let’s make some money with YouTube ads!

YouTube is not just a platform to share and upload adorable puppy videos. It is the new generations form of television and you know how attention-grabbing television ads were in the past.

You have probably seen the 6-second video ads before your YouTube video and thought “Wow my ads would look awesome here!” Then you tried to Google “how to advertise on YouTube” and there’s an overwhelming amount of information.

Well, don’t give up because we have the ultimate guide to help you advertise on YouTube.

By the time you finish this article, you would learn how to navigate the new Adwords interface in order to build your YouTube campaign, understand YouTube targeting, launch your own remarketing, and how to optimize your YouTube campaigns.

Why Advertise on YouTube?

First, what are YouTube ads? YouTube advertising is a part of Google AdWords. YouTube advertising allows not just marketers, but anyone to advertise on the YouTube platform. You have the power to choose who sees your ads and what videos will your ads appear in.

So why should you advertise on YouTube?

YouTube ads are trackable. Unlike traditional television ads, every click is tracked. Marketers have the knowledge they need to increase ad spending for successful ads or to pause poor performing ones.

YouTube ads are affordable for everyone. In some cases, YouTube video ads cost as low as $0.10 per view. Who wouldn’t want ads this cheap? This helps marketers drive affordable conversions and show off their brands to more customers.

YouTube allows you to choose the audience you want to target. This is powerful because depending on your product or services a certain group of people will be more willing to convert. You can choose the viewers demographic and interests. Advertisers can also choose the type of videos and specific keywords. You have an unlimited amount of choices to play around with.

Now that you know what YouTube ads are and its benefits, let’s get started!

Best Audience Targeting Method for YouTube Ads

Creating Your Buyer Persona

You can improve your ad targeting by creating a list of traits, characteristics, and demographics of your ideal customer. YouTube ads target videos that potential customers are watching.

To find these customers, you need to ask yourself:

  1. What topics are my customers most interested in?
  2. Are there major influencers or brands that will create videos my target audience will watch?
  3. What kind of channels will my customers subscribe to on YouTube?
  4. What do they type in when looking for videos of interest?
  5. What keyword tend to appear on the page when they’re watching such videos?

You can use tools like Facebook’s Audience Insight to learn more about the broad range of interests your audience might have. The most important information would be related to “Page Likes”. Use these interests and page likes to target your potential audiences.

Main YouTube Formats

There are three video formats that you can work with when running a video ad:

In-stream Ads

In-stream ads will appear before, during, or after a video. Viewers can skip these ads after 5 seconds of viewing.

Bumper Ads

Bumper ads do not give viewers the option to skip these ads. They are generally designed to raise brand awareness. These ads have to be 6 seconds or less.

Video Discovery Ads

Video discovery ads appear in YouTube Search results located next to related videos and on the homepage.

When running a Video Discovery campaign, isolate your approach in order for your ads to show on search listing and ‘related’ video section. This is useful if you know what keywords you want to target.

Ultimate Guide on Running Ads on YouTube

When making video ads, make things simple and keep these 5 basic ad formats in mind. If you can’t think of any video ideas, these ad formats can be your inspiration. These ads are tested and proven to have great results. But don’t be afraid to be creative.

Five basic video ad formats for YouTube ads. This includes talking head, animation, slideshow, product demonstration, and story.

YouTube Ad Tools From YouTube

Director App

This YouTube app is designed to help you create a video ad with only your phone. The director app walks you through the process of creating a YouTube ad with templates. Once you select a template, the app will take you through the process of what to say, when you need to say it, and how you need to record your video to produce high-quality ads. Then you can upload and even promote your ads directly from your phone. Visit the YouTube for Business channel to see examples of ads created with the Director App.

Note: It is recommended that you only use your phone to upload your videos, but not to edit your ads. You can have more control over the whole process with a desktop device.

YouTube Director Onsite

YouTube will send professional filmmakers to work with you to create a great ad. You can only use this option once you spent over $150 on running YouTube ads. It’s a relatively new option, so it is available in select locations like the U.S. and U.K.

You can go to YouTube Ad Creation Website to see if you’re eligible.

So how does it work?

First is the planning stage where you choose a video template, and YouTube will match you with a filmmaker to help you write your script.

Next is the shooting stage. Filmmakers will come to you to shoot, edit, and deliver your video in the same day.

Last is the advertising stage. Ad specialists will get your video ad set up to help you reach the right audience for your business.

How to Setup Your YouTube Ad

To start off, go to AdWords and click ‘Campaign+’ to create a new campaign. Then select ‘create a campaign without a goal’s guidance’ because you want complete control on all customization and inputs.

Creating a campaign without a goal's guidance on Google Adwords.

After that click ‘Video’.

The option of creating video ad being selected on Google Adwords.

Then ‘Custom video campaign’.

Custom video campaign being selected in the campaign subtype category within Google Adwords.

Here are the steps to create a Video Discovery Ad.

1) Give your campaign a name to easily identify it.

2) Choose your campaign budget.

You can choose between ‘Daily’ or ‘Campaign Total’. You can also pick the Delivery Method of ‘Standard’ or ‘Accelerated’. If you want to spend money quickly use ‘accelerated’, but ‘standard’ would work for the majority of your campaigns.

3) Set your start and end date.

This step is not as important. If you choose to not do anything in this category, AdWords automatically selects ‘As soon as ads are approved’ for the start date and ‘None’ as your end date.

But this feature would be great to play around with for holiday deals or any discounts within a given time frame.

4) Pick your bidding strategy.

Choose ‘Maximum CPV’. This allows you to set up the maximum amount you are willing to pay per view.

5) Choose your network.

It depends on what your campaign goals are and where you want your ads to appear. You can pick between:

YouTube Search which are ads that appear solely in YouTube Search results.

YouTube Videos that appear on homepage, watch, and channel pages only.

Video Partners that extends the reach of video ads to sites and apps in the Google Display Network.

It is best to not mix different networks when running campaigns because you can have more control. More of your budget will be spent on search results to help you obtain more data in less time.

If you pick YouTube Video Network, your budget is spread out, and now you have to monitor the performance of 3 different ad locations. This makes it harder to draw insight.

6) Set a language.

You can choose your audience’s spoken language. ‘All language’ is the default option unless you choose to change it.

7) Pick your locations.

You can pick to either exclude or target a certain location. You can target as big as a country or even more granular by targeting specific cities.

8) Assign your inventory type.

This is a new AdWords’ feature that allows you to choose where your content appears. You are allowed to choose between these 3 inventory types.

Expanded inventory allows your ads to appear on most contents which include sensitive contents. However, your ads won’t appear on extremely sensitive contents like nudity, excessive profanity, and graphic violence. This option will allow you cheaper ads, but your ads might appear in non-customer friendly content.

Standard inventory lets your ads show on content that’s appropriate to most brands. They have the same exclusions as expanded inventory but also excludes repeated strong profanity, violence either real or dramatized, and discussion of sex.

Limited inventory excludes most sensitive content. This option excludes moderate profanity and moderate sexually suggestive content.

9) Decide on excluded content.

Here you will choose what exactly you want to exclude. But with future AdWords updates, inventory type will replace this feature.

10) Select excluded types and labels.

You can choose to exclude certain content types like embedded videos, live streaming videos, or games. You also have the option to choose digital content labels to exclude general audiences, most audiences with parental guidance, and mature audiences.

11) Setup Additional settings.

This category allows you the option to optimize for devices, frequency capping, and ad schedule.

12) Name your ad group.

13) Choose your ad group bid.

In this category, you are given the option to add ‘Top content bid adjustment’. This allows you to increase your bid by a set percentage in order to be competitive in advertising on popular content on YouTube or Display Network.

14) Fill out ‘Create your video ad’ section.

To select your video, you need to upload your video on to YouTube. Then copy and paste the URL of the video.

15) Select your video ad format.

Video discovery ad being selected as the video ad format within Adwords.

16) After you select ‘Video discovery ad’ for your ad format, you can choose your thumbnail and write your Headline, Description 1, Description 2, and Ad Name.

In-stream ads are next. Here are the steps to set them up.

Follow the steps in Video Discovery Ad above until you reach ‘Create your video’ section because the steps are the same.

1) Copy and paste your URL.

2) Select ‘In-stream ad’.

3) Then you need to provide ‘Display URL’ and a ‘Final URL’ for your ad.

Display URL is what people see on your ad.

Final URL is the website that people will be taken to if they take action and click on your ad.

4) Include a call to action, but this step is optional.

5) Add a companion banner.

Companion banner is a banner that will appear alongside a video ad. You can either have Google create one for you or you can create one yourself. This is only seen on computers.

6) Name your ad.

7) Click save and continue.

Now we are going to go over bumper ads.

Follow the steps in ‘Video Discovery Ad’. But, you would change the bidding strategy for bumper ads. Switch ‘Maximum CPV’ to ‘Target CPM’.

Note: You’re paying on a CPM basis (for every 1000 impressions). People can’t skip your ads, so you don’t have the option to pay when people choose to watch your ads.

1) Copy and paste your URL.

Your video has to be 6 seconds or less.

2) Provide your ‘Final URL’ and ‘Display URL’.

3) Choose your companion banner option.

4) Write your ad name.

5) Click save and continue.

Basic YouTube Ad Targeting Tips

YouTube Search Ads

When running a YouTube Search Network campaign, it is a good idea to target based on keywords. You can set up keyword targeting by selecting ‘Keywords’ from the ‘Content’ section.

How do you know which keywords you should be targeting?

You need to know your niche. Keyword Planner will also help you. However, you can’t use ‘exact match’ keywords when targeting keywords on YouTube. There is ‘Contextual targeting’ which creates a theme related to the keyword provided. If you want greater control over keywords that trigger your ads, keep your keyword selection tight, and create separate ad groups for different keyword groups and themes.

Note: The Placement feature can be very useful if you want to run YouTube Video in ‘related section’ and not in ‘search results’. Placements can have your video ads show next to videos that your audience normally watches.

Custom Affinity targeting also works well for getting your videos to appear next to the right videos.

YouTube Video Ads

Relevance is the key for video ads. One technique is to target the videos that people will view after searching for a popular keyword related to your niche.

To do this, first, go to ‘Placement’ targeting. You can type your topic into the search bar and you would be given related videos.

It’s a good idea to filter the search results by ‘Channel’. By targeting a channel, you can uncover and ultimately target a bunch of videos that share a similar theme to what you are trying to promote. Note the URL for the selected videos and channels, so that it can be targeted later.

Not all videos and channels will have monetization enabled, so some videos and channels will not show your ads. This means you can’t show your ads on them.

Now that you have the URL, go back to AdWords and enter them in the ‘Placements’ section. To do this, go to the ‘Targeting’ section and click on ‘Narrow your targeting (optional)’.

Then select ‘Placements’ from the drop-down menu. You’ll notice the option to ‘Search for Placements’ within this section. This option can be useful, but will not necessarily give you a good sense of the top videos people will see after typing a given search term. When adding placements manually, you need to copy and paste them into the ‘Add manually’ section. After pasting, click ‘Add placements’ to make sure you’re targeting them.  

Then click done to see the ‘typical’ bid range has changed. You want to start with the lower end of the bid range to see how the platform works, then gradually raise the bid. To make sure your ad is not displaying on less popular videos, it could be a good idea to use ‘popular video bid adjustment’ feature.

You might want to separate ad campaigns for different placements to make it easier to see which placements are driving the best results at what cost.

On the right-hand side, suggestions are provided in terms of how many impressions you’ll achieve, given your current daily budget and bidding settings.

Bumper Ads

There are two approaches for bumper ads targeting. The goal of bumper ads is to build awareness rather than direct sales.

The first approach is targeting interests and topics as opposed to placements or keywords. When you are targeting interests, you can work with two audiences, affinity, and in-market. Affinity audiences relate to audiences that are interested in certain topics and would be interested in learning more about it. In-market audiences are those that are actively looking to buy something.

When using interests or topics targeting, you may want to simultaneously set up ‘Demographics’ targeting for your ad, so your ads can be shown to a subset of people within the interests and topics you select.

The typical bids here are higher due to the cost per 1000 views. Also, experiment with ‘Popular videos bid adjustments’.

Click save then wait for your ad to be approved.

Advanced Targeting Tips

Custom Affinity Audience

This feature allows you to create an audience of your own to target. Custom affinity audience targeting lets marketers target customers’ interests that best fits what you’re selling. This provides another avenue where marketers can test to maximize results.

Here are the steps to set up your custom affinity audience. Remember that your custom affinity audience would be available to other campaigns.

1) First go into an existing ‘Display campaign’.

2) Click the Audience tab.

3) Then edit your audience.

4) Go into the ‘Browse’ tab.

5) Click ‘What their interests and habits are’.

This section will provide you with a list of affinity audiences that you can select from.

You can also create a custom affinity audience by clicking the bottom button. This will allow you more control and customization of who to reach. These are the steps to create your own custom affinity audience.

1) Create your audience name.

2) Write a description (Optional).

3) Define your audience.

You can add relevant interests, URL, places, or apps. It is recommended to add at least 5 to improve targeting quality.

4) Click create and save.

How to Launch Remarketing on YouTube Ads

You can show ads to people who have visited your website, interacted with your brand on YouTube in some way, and provided you with their email address, as long as Google can match their email to a Google account.

Follow these steps to build your own remarketing YouTube ad.

Go to ‘Campaign’ section of AdWords and then click on ‘Audiences’.

If you want to remarket to people who visited your website, you’ll need to set up a remarketing tag. You should be notified of this as soon as you hit the Audiences page.

  1. Click on ‘manual targeting’.
  2. Select ‘Browse’ category.
  3. Choose the option ‘How they have interacted with your business’
  4. Choose ‘Website visitors’.

Here you can set a parameter of who should be added to the remarketing list.

If you want to remarket to people who interacted with your brand on YouTube follow these steps:

1) Select ‘Tools’ on the top right corner.

2) Go to the ‘Shared Library’ section.

3) Click on ‘Audience Manager’.

4) Click on ‘+’ and ‘YouTube users’.

5) You will get a list of different parameters to choose from depending on your ad’s purpose in ‘List members’.

6) Choose your ‘Initial list size’.

7) Decide on your membership duration.

This is the amount of time someone will stay on your remarketing list after interacting with your business.

Quick Tips on Optimization

Views & Engagement:

It is a good idea to review the ‘View rate’ for each of your targeting methods. View rate lets us know how many people watched and engaged with your ad compared to how many people were exposed to the ad overall. This will let you know which targeting methods are working and don’t.

Remember to install conversion tracking, so that you can directly identify which targeting methods are driving the most or the cheapest conversions.

If you find that your view rate is low, then it might mean your targeting is off, or your video is not engaging. If your view rate is high, but there are low conversions, it may be that the video gives away too much info, leaving no curiosity as people feel no need to learn more. It could also be that there is no clear or compelling call to action.


Youtube ads are subject to the same bidding strategies and methodologies that govern paid search, display and shopping ads on Google, with the exception of an additional bid strategy available only for Youtube ads: cost per view, or CPV. In our experience, CPV bidding doesn’t tend to deliver as strong of results as our CPC bid strategy used across other Google Adwords mediums. However, your mileage may vary and test extensively is always encouraged.


I hope this guide helped you realize that anyone can advertise on YouTube, not just marketers. Setting up your YouTube ads is as easy as following instructions to bake a cake. Follow these steps and you can see your business on YouTube soon.

After reading this guide, which YouTube video ad format will you use?

Updated: April 14, 2019

Ding! You’ve got mail.

As you fire up your inbox, your heart is racing with excitement.

“It’s my Coachella ticket delivery confirmation, I just know it!!!,” you scream to yourself.

But wait. The headline reads…

“Calling all marketers. The Answer to EVERY Gmail Ad Question You’ll Ever Have.”

A person looking at their phone that they are holding in their hand.
You’ve got mail.

Hold up. Gmail Ads? You’re intrigued.

Why should you read on? We attempt to answer every question that a marketer can ever think of when it comes to Gmail Ads. Whether you have one question or a million, read on to find out everything you’ll ever want to know!

We are adding new questions and answers all the time, so subscribe to get updates to this article to your inbox or browser.

Gmail Ads: EVERY Question and Answer (Updated August 16, 2018)

Q: Why should I care about Gmail Ads?

A: First of all, nearly 205 billion emails are sent per day throughout the world.


That’s a lot of emails in your inbox. This equates to plenty of impressions.

However, not a lot of marketers view Gmail Ads as a profitable channel.

Gmail ads are often neglected because it is poorly understood.

Don’t worry – once you read on, you’ll be able to master Gmail Ads and get this cheap and efficient channel working for you.

Q: What are Gmail ads?

A: Gmail ads are a sub-type of display ads on Google AdWords.

Unlike AdWords, it focuses on audience and customer lists over keywords.

When targeting users for Gmail ads, it’s not about what you’re looking for – it’s who you are.

When a user is searching up a keyword on Google, they are looking for a specific solution to a problem.

Let’s say you search “plumber.” You are specifically looking for a plumber to fix a leak because your toilet exploded and is leaking an ominous brown liquid everywhere.

Now let’s see the other side of the equation: when targeting a user through an audience list, it is based on who they are and how they behave.

This means your goal is to capture their attention to interact with your ad, even if they weren’t searching for it.

For example, an audience list of high income earners might react well to an ad selling top of the line bathroom fixtures (such as as a golden toilet, which actually exists).

Q: Do Gmail Ads really work?

A: You’re jaded. We get it.

Everyone is trying to sell inventory of low quality display ads that don’t drive results.

Gmail ads have the power to drive results: marketers need to do the below steps:

    • Have a strong testing plan in place. It may take you 18 tries to crack profitability, so it takes perseverance.
    • Create a plethora of targeted audience lists to test
  • Create multiple ad creatives specifically targeted to each audience

Gmail Sponsored Promotions (GSP) ads have the potential to be better than traditional display ads.

They are housed in the “Promotions” folder, so users who are looking there are likely already in the mood to be looking for something that interests them.

A phone screen displaying a Gmail ad.
Example of a Gmail Sponsored Ad.

Gmail Ads have a slick visual presentation – they closely mimic the native look of emails and allow for flexible graphical and HTML based ad units.

Also, you don’t have to worry about a banner popping and irritating the hell out of the user as they are a rare combination of appearing top of the fold while remaining low key.

Q: Who do I target for Gmail Ads?

A: Gmail ads are all about audience targeting with customer lists.

You’ll get better results when you strategically segment your audiences vs. letting Gmail Ads target large, unfocused audiences

How do you this? Follow the below steps:

    • Create audiences from existing customers
    • Create audiences from people who have not converted yet but who have heard of your brand
  • Identify and create specific personas based on audience and affinity interest research

Here’s an example.

If you’re selling cosmetic brushes, one of your best customers might be “Jane.”

A profile of your desired customer with a description of their age, interest, occupation, and favorite store.
Create customers like Jane

Who is Jane? She is age 25, works as a social media manager, highly interested in cosmetics, and her favorite stores include Sephora and Ulta.

Your Gmail ad should be shown to the audience list Jane belongs to:

A person's audience description based on topics and their demographics.
Utilize tools to find data for audience lists.

Q: What are Google’s custom audience?

A: Custom audiences allow anyone to target audiences based on who they are, their interests, how they interacted with your business, and what they are searching for on Google. This is a feature that enables marketers with another opportunity to create low-cost conversions. Sometimes even at a fraction of an ordinary keyword campaign. 

Now let’s get into it. There are 2 ways to create your custom audience.

The first method is the auto-generated method. You allow Google’s algorithm to create the audience. This is definitely great for anyone that is new to Adwords and for those that need to set up their campaign in a hurry.

Then there is the do it yourself (DIY) method. You would use keywords and URLs to create an audience. The DIY method allows for more customization but requires a greater knowledge of Adwords.

Q: What are Gmail’s targeting options?

A: It goes without saying that Google collects an astounding amount of information on its users. To the marketer’s advantage, these data points are fed into algorithms to predict how likely someone is to purchase and track specific user details such as search history and life events. 

That’s cool and all, but how does that help you?

With Adwords, you can take advantage of  Google’s stored information and run Gmail ads that highly relevant to your customers based on their purchase intent as determined by Google. 

Who doesn’t want more tools to generate more conversions? The answer is obviously everyone.

Here is what you need. These are 6 options that you can utilize.

In-Market Audience

Google allows marketers to target customers that are actively searching for your brand. In-market audiences are typically customers that are browsing similar products from different companies.  These are warm customers with a high chance of purchasing.  

Custom Intent

You can now target audiences based on their Chrome history, YouTube search history, and app install data. Marketers choose URLs and keywords that your customers are interested in and Google will do the rest. 

Life Events

People know how important certain life events are — such as weddings. They are not afraid to spend a lot of money to make these events perfect.

But why are life events important to marketers?

There are businesses that can perfectly complement these life events. Which wedding doesn’t have flowers and food? Every wedding definitely needs florists and caterers. 

 Life event customer targeting allows marketers to help these business find the perfect audience that are celebrating these life events. Google’s algorithm tries to advertise to customers they believe are going through these specific life events.

Since this is a new feature, Google limits the choices of life events you can target. These events include marriage, moving, and graduation. 

Similar Audiences

Similar audience targeting is exactly what it sounds like. Just like its name, Google will help you find more people who are similar to your current customer list. This audience targeting technique is great if you already have a high converting customer base.

Demographic Targeting

Demographic targeting allows marketers to choose their audiences’ age group, gender, parental status, education, homeownership, marital status, occupation, and household income. 

Audience Keywords

Keyword searching is what Google is known for, so why not target a customer’s search history?

Audience keywords is a powerful targeting technique where you can specify the keywords you want to target. This will target customers that are lower on your marketing funnel. These are the customers that will most likely convert.

Q: How do you feel about automated targeting?

A: Google is constantly trying to promote its automated ad features such as Google’s auto-generated audience, in order to make Adwords easy to use for everyone, but this is not always a good thing. Be careful when you use this setting. You’re giving up control of your campaign to Google so they can spend as much money as possible. They might not always pick the right audience for your business.

It is definitely a great place to start out but use it sparingly. You’ll get a better understanding of the program and what it takes to run a successful targeting campaign if you do it manually.

Q: What tools can I use for Gmail Ad audience research?

A: While building out audience lists can be difficult, there are tools to help make things easier.

One of our favorite, free tools is to utilize Facebook’s Audience Insights tool: its algorithm can really simplify the process.

Facebook will create audience lists based on their interests, shopping habits, and others.

Useful, right?

Selecting Audience Insights from Facebook Business Manager.

You can find the useful tool in Facebook’s Business Manager.

Utilize the data shown on the “demographics”  page:

Demographics page of Facebook Business Manager with the categories age and gender, relationship status, and education level highlighted.

This allows you to create powerful audiences with data from people who have interacted with your page.

Dive deeper with the tool and you can retrieve extremely useful information.

Another tool is our trusty friend, Google Analytics.

You can’t go wrong with digging up critical information like demographics of your customers and what SKUs are hot.

Handy data from Google Analytics would be demographics and interests to help build customer lists.

Demographics and interests can be found under the Audience tab.

Demographic overview with a bar graph of age and pie chart of gender from Facebook Business Manager.
Demographics found on Google Analytics.
Percentage of the audiences' interests separated by affinity category and in-market segment on Facebook Business Manager.
Interests found on Google Analytics.

Q: What are some ideas for building out audiences?

A: Another method to build more audience lists is creating your own.

One tip is to think of your user’s motives.

For example, if you’re creating a retargeting audience, you should collect demographics and psychographics of users who have purchased before. This can be a male, age 20-35, located in Southern California, who shops at Nike and Adidas.

Another example can be building out retargeting audiences.

These are consumers who are one push away from purchasing.

Based on data, you can discover users who have made it to your website and almost converted.

Use this to develop an exact audience list for your Gmail ad to give them that final push.

After building out your effective audience lists, start testing with various GSP ad types.

Q: How do I know which GSP ad type works best?

A: Good question. Only one way to find out – test them all!

After testing all ad types, you can analyze the stats to find what works best.

Your product offering is another way to determine ad type.

Think about what are you selling, how many SKUs you have, what is the product offering, etc.

Each ad type can cater to different purposes.

For example, a company with 5-10 different SKUs would select the single product promotion ad type as they don’t have a wide variety of products.

Q: How do I know if my ad is working efficiently?

A: A crucial step for GSP ads is to A/B test each ad.

This allows you to see which subject line and description is hitting the jackpot.

You want the winning combo of ad type, copy, and creative.

You can monitor the success of all combinations through “gmail clicks to website” column in AdWords.

The first metric you’ll need to look at is your “open rate.” This is shown as the CTR % in the Adwords interface. You’ll want open rates that are comparable to high quality emails (10%+). If this is low, then you’ll want to continually A/B test the subject lines and make sure they cater to your target audience.

Secondly, you’ll want to examine your actual creative “CTR %.” You can monitor the success of this via the “Gmail clicks to website” column in AdWords. Here’s a screenshot of where you can add it:

Adwords metric with Gmail clicks to website section highlighted.
Add “Gmail Clicks to Website” column like this

You’ll then want to figure out the CTR % of your ad creative w/ the following formula: “Gmail Clicks to Website / Clicks.” This will inform you about how effective your ad creative is. If this is not at least 1% (as a baseline), you’ll need to make your ads stronger either in presentation, copy or design.

Lastly, once those metrics are healthy you’ll want to optimize for your ultimate goal whether it be CPA or ROAS.

Q: What is Gmail Ads “clicks to website” and why does it matter?

A: Gmail “clicks to website” indicates how many times users expanded the ad.

There is conversion rate and also “true” conversion rate.

“True” conversion rate is the key to finding your A+ ads.

To find your true conv. Rate, you need to divide gmail “clicks to website” by regular clicks (collapsed ad/subject line).

This informs you of the actual traffic landing on your website.

Q: What copy is needed for great Gmail Ads?

A: Gmail ads are made of two parts for copy.

Subject line and Description.

All Gmail ads appear in “collapsed” format on the top of user’s inbox.

The subject line needs to hit hard being the first thing users see.

After convincing the user to click the email, it will launch the “expanded” format.

“Expanded” format displays the entire ad including graphics and strong description copy.

Q: How should the copy sound when writing Gmail text?

A: Gmail ads copy should be parallel to AdWords ads.

Put value propositions in the beginning, again A/B testing to see which works best.

One tip is to use value props like shipping and price for better results.

Don’t forget good ad copy skills like emotional triggers, strong hooks, etc.

Also, always add a call to action button at the end.

If you’re looking for more help on how to write killer ad copy, check out this guide:

You should mix up different tones and emotions to see which work better with your audience.

If the ad is not getting the results you want, switch up the product you’re testing.

Some products might do better than others.

Consistently test your ads to find the best combo with strong results.

Q: How do I write good headlines for Gmail Ads?

A: Avoid extreme and out of proportion headlines.

You don’t want your user to expand the ad expecting an outrageous offer and not find it.

This will lead to disappointment.

For example, if the headline reads “70% Off Boots, Shop Now,” the user will expect a huge discount.

If the ad is not mirroring the headline offer, the user will have a negative experience and exit.

When something like this occurs, it will ruin your ROAS as Gmail Ads are technically charged by impressions.

This is because the moment they click to expand your ad, your account is charged.

Be wise with what you say and don’t throw away money with useless impressions.

Q: What are Gmail Ad examples of strong ad copy?

A: Instead of a headline like “70% Off Boots,” a better ad would be “$50 boots, now $15.”

This allows the user to understand that the boots are on sale for a specific price. Clear and exact, it avoids disappointment and false hope.

Here’s a different example:

Gmail ad for Blue Apron with a promise of a discount.
Example of strong ad copy.

The headline specifically reads “$50 Offer,” which gives the exact promotion offer. A Gmail Ad setup like this ensures that the user will not be led into confusion or false promotion after expanding the GSP ad.

Q: How do I keep track of all my Gmail Ad performance?

A: Quite simple, document everything!

Keep all the results tidy and documented.

Track all ad builds including ad types, copy, creatives, etc.

This will allow you to analyze each result based on conversion rate and “true” conversion rate.

Use this documentation to understand how well each test is performing and compare results of each round.

Every piece of data matters when finding your successful ad combos.

Use this template to efficiently organize your results: Gmail Results Template.

Q: How can I improve Gmail Ad performance?

A: Never stop refining.

You’ll see improvement in ad performance by consistently maintaining your ads.

Be on track of trends that are evolving.

You want to stay relevant with your audience.

Your target audiences can change so you need to constantly check who you’re targeting.

Don’t lose momentum by sending irrelevant ads.

Be adaptive and remain present.

Q: What is Target CPA and how/when would you use it?

A: Target CPA is the desired CPA you set so Google does everything it can to reach it.

This can be used in the method of target CPA bidding if needed.

I would suggest utilizing target CPA to make incremental gains and test out Google’s algorithm once you have a decent volume of conversions.

You can then make custom improvements from those target CPA biddings to reach your desired results.

Q: How do you make money on Gmail Ads??

A: Make your Gmail ads spectacular with the backing of superb analytics.

Take what you learned from all the questions asked above and put them into action.

Practice makes perfect.

Start with building out strong audience lists, devise killer ad copy, test, test, test, analyze results, and do a celebratory dance for reaching your target ROAS!

A screen with the Gmail logo with a man in a suit jumping over a stack of coins while holding onto a briefcase and balloons.
Make bank with Gmail Ads!

Q: Okay, great! How do I set up a Gmail Sponsored Ad in Google AdWords?

A: Head on over to Google AdWords.

    1. Click on campaigns and press the “+” button to create a new campaign.
Campaign button highlighted on Adwords.
Add new campaign.
  1. Click “New Campaign” and choose “Sales.”
Sales goal option selected on Adwords.
Select “sales” as the goal.
  • Then choose “Display” for campaign type and “Gmail campaign” for sub-type.
  • Display ad option and Gmail campaign selected on Adwords.
    Select campaign type and subtype.
    • Now that you have a campaign set up for Gmail ads, you can create a gmail ad.
    • Click on “Ads & Extensions” on the left column.
    • Click on the “+” button to create a new add and choose “Gmail Ad.”
    Gmail ad option highlighted in the category ads and extensions on Adwords.
    Create Gmail ad in campaign.
  • Fill in these boxes and you have successfully set up a Gmail Ad!
  • A form to fill out to create a Gmail ad on Adwords.

    You are preparing for the biggest meeting of your life.

    Your boss is demanding ad copy.

    Not just any ad copy.

    It needs to amaze. Inspire. SELL!

    Suddenly, sweat drips down your face.

    You’re slamming your keyboard now, desperately searching for help online.

    You are suddenly feeling very small.

    Don’t worry.

    We got your back.

    We’re here to help (no sweat).

    So why is ad copy such a vital part of online marketing?

    Google is a blood strewn battleground of competitors –  you’ll need the right strategies to make it on top.

    Your job as a marketer is to crush those competitors.

    How do you knock your competitors out of the way, you might ask?

    You’ll need to be equipped with the right techniques to devise eye-catching ad copy that will stand out from the rest.

    You’re not simply going to write great copy – you need to get into the shoes of your customers and understand everything that motivates them, drives them, and ultimately triggers them to make a purchase.

    Let’s take a look at these steps that will act as your ad copy bible.

    STEP ONE: Find and target your user’s objectives for Google Adwords ads.

    Understand your user inside and out.

    There are multiple types of people, or personas. Let’s go into detail here.

    How do you figure out your user personas?

    1. Do some market research.

    You can gauge details of your user by using tools like surveys, interviews, and polls on social media channels.

    Another way to find out details of your user is scoping out your competitors. How are they talking and interacting with their consumers?

    2. Check your website’s analytics.

    There is valuable data inside your site’s analytics. It reveals essential information for creating your personas like search terms that led them to your ad and what device they are used to get there.

    Now that you found some pieces to your persona puzzle, lets build them out.

    P.I.P.: Persona Identification Process. Let’s engrave this process into your head, so whenever you need to understand your audience, the P.I.P. will easily guide you through it. The P.I.P. will include these components:

    Name your persona

    This will help you differentiate your multiple personas and build unique ad copy to fit each one.


      • What is their job title?
    • What is their company like? (size, industry, etc.)


      • Age
      • Gender
      • Income
      • Location
      • Level of Education
    • Family Size


      • Primary and secondary goals
      • How will you help them reach their goals
      • Problems
      • How will you solve these problems
      • Interests
    • Dislikes

    Here’s an example persona for someone searching for “sell car.”

    A computer screen that displays the desired customer's persona.
    P.I.P. Template

    Name: Drew

    Occupation: Assistant Project Manager at a mid-size apparel company.


      • 35 years old
      • Male
      • $65,000 Annual Income
      • Southern California, Suburban Region
      • Bachelor’s Degree
    • Married, Two young children


      • Goals: Sell car in most effective and profitable way
      • Problems: Find easiest and quickest way to sell car for cash
    • How can we help: Give instant estimate, Pick up the car, Give cash quick.

    Now that you have this template for creating your personas, it will be much easier for your ad copy to cater to their exact needs.

    Moving forward, let’s think of the five W’s (who, what, where, when, why) when analyzing this person.

    “Who”- Who is this person? Think of their possible occupation, interests, dislikes, and so on. Drew is a 35-year-old man with hair quickly turning white due to his chaotic days with two young children. He’s a full-time worker and a full-time family man, facing various situations day to day. His new big problem, sell his car.

    “What” – What is their goal? Tap into what they are trying to achieve in the end.

    Drew’s day usually includes work, taking care of the children, and spending time with the family, with no time to waste. His goal is to sell his car in the most immediate and profitable way.

    “Where and When” – What device are they using when searching and where are they geographically located?

    For Drew, he is searching for solutions mainly through his mobile device since he is always on the go, whether he’s at his son’s soccer practice or out for lunch with his co-workers. His geographic location is California, USA. You can now modify your ad copy to appeal to these aspects.

    “Why” – This can be parallel to their goal, but let’s pinpoint why they are looking for a solution.

    In Drew’s case, he is unfamiliar with the car selling process and doesn’t know which service is the best. Therefore, he is searching for trustworthy guidance and a helpful hand (you.)

    With the solid knowledge of your personas, let’s process that information into personable ad copy.

    Here’s an example of ad copy for “sell car.”

    An example of a Google search ad copy about selling cars.
    Examples of effective ad copy for specific personas.

    These two ads give the user easy-to-follow solutions to their problem of selling a car. The first ad gives concise answers like “Get An Instant Estimate, Pick Up Your Car, Get A Check.”

    Then guide the user into understanding how each persona has different 5x Ws and the ad copy should reflect that.

    It simply tells the user that their company’s services will bring them to the end goal (get a check/money.)

    These companies have a clear image of their user.

    They are utilizing specific benefits like “Get An Instant Estimate Now,”Sell Car Quick,” and “Highest Payout.”

    Each benefit is fitting the mold to the persona who wants to sell their car fast, hassle-free, and for good money.

    STEP TWO: Nail the Headline.

    Now let’s get into the greeter of our ad copy; the headline.

    More people simply read the headline more than the body.

    It is the first thing people see – make it memorable!

    Office supplies that surrounds a group of emotionally appealing words like sensational, now, and miracle.
    Example of different hook words.

    Hooks– Snatch the user’s attention with enticing hooks.

      • What exactly is a hook? It’s something that grabs someone’s attention.
      • The hook should explain the value of your offer, to make the user read on.
    • Use grabbers like “Who else wants…” (implies an already existing desire) or “The secret of…” (instills that you are sharing insider knowledge)

    Statistics & Numbers– Integrate this into your headline to differentiate yourself from other ads.

      • This acts as strong, factual motivators to help your user believe what you’re selling.
      • Numbers and statistics make users believe that your service is better than the competitors. Check this example out.
    • A user is searching “photo prints” and multiple companies include stats in their headline.
    Google search ad copy about photo prints with the percentage off in their headlines.
    Examples of utilizing statistics and numbers in headline to increase engagement.

    Snapfish strategically inserts “Up to 70% Off” to trigger the user to feel like they are getting a big discount.

    Walgreens’ ad also states “40% Off Photo Prints,” implying that there is a special sale.

    Majority of users comparing these four different services would easily pick Snapfish and Walgreens over the other two because of the simple inserts of percentages.

    Wouldn’t you go for the ad with a sale going on?

    Keywords– Incorporate your top keywords.

      • Utilize your top performing keywords in the headline so it appears in the searches.
    • Be cautious and don’t spam the ad with these keywords.

    Two words: Scent. Trail.

      • What is this? When we use search engines, there’s typically a specific direction we’re looking to go. Users then tend to engage most with ads that easily take you on the right path.
    • You want the headline to smoothly lead them to your description. Then the description should be the final push to have them click through.

    Let me guide you through this example:

    An example of a bad ad copy with Cox offering to win a trip to Scotland.
    Example of showcasing scent trail gone wrong.

    When you first look at the headline “Enter to win a trip to Scotland from Cox!,” you expect the body to be about how you can win a trip to Scotland, right?

    Well… Clearly, there is no correlation in the body content with the headline.

    This has no clear scent trail.

    At this point, your user is confused and will immediately disengage.

    Now let’s look at an ad with good scent trail.

    Google search ad from Sephora.
    Example utilizing effective scent trail to enhance user’s experience.

    Here’s an ad for “makeup brush.” The headline clearly states what we are looking for, “makeup brushes & cosmetic brushes.” Now the user will want to continue reading.

    This description is spot on with the topic and provides the user with information they want, leading them to click through and continue shopping.

    Learn more about the scent trail concept here:

    STEP THREE: Wow them with your description/body.

    Now that the headline is settled, let’s focus on the meat of the ad copy; the description.

    A quick way to vamp up the first description line is ending with a punctuation mark.

      • This grants the ad extra pulling power.
    • If you use punctuation, it can elongate your headline when your ad places in top three spots.

    Next, promote readability.

    • Utilize easy to comprehend, short, and broken sentences.

    Check this out, what ad is easier on the eyes?

    Google search ad from
    Example of ad with easy to read copy.


    Google search ad from Expedia.
    Example of ad with clustered text.

    The first ad has short, simple sentences like “Price Guarantee. No Cancellation Fee.”

    It’s quick to read and straight to the point.

    The second ad looks a little more clustered and makes it harder on the eyes since it looks like a big chunk of text.

    With that said, try to stay away from chunking up your text.

    Next, focus on your benefits.

    Checklist to follow in order to create a good ad copy.
    Steps to increase performance in ad copy.

    Tell them how your brand/product will improve their lives.

      • The user only cares about how you can make their lives easier.
      • Again, apply stats and #s when possible.
    • Be specific on how you will help them, don’t be too vague.

    Be personal; use “you”

      • You are talking directly to the user.
    • This gives off a friendly and intimate attitude.
    • Make them feel like they have a relationship with you and can trust you.

    Include converting keywords in text

      • Just like in the headline, target those high performing keywords and integrate them in the text.
    • Again, be aware of spamming the text with keywords.

    The order of the text matters as well.

    • The most important information should be at the front and the least important should be at the end.
    Google search ad copy from Elf Cosmetics.
    Example of ad with efficiently structured text.
      • In the example above, this ad description is structured well since the first sentence captures the user’s attention with clear information about makeup brushes they offer.
    • The next sentence is a call to action which should be at the end.

    STEP FOUR: Utilize emotional triggers

    Emotions are vital components to making strong ad copy.

    Use anger, disgust, excitement, fear, etc. to get a powerful response.

    A person's face with multiple expressions such as happy, angry, and worried.
    Different emotions used in ad copy.

    We have to understand that most consumers are driven by emotion, not just logic.

      • The use of emotions like belonging should make them feel like they are part of something bigger.
    • The emotional trigger of fear should instill a sense of danger if they do not take action.

    Overall, make the user feel something, allowing them to connect with you.

    Triggers- Research what triggers your targeted user.

      • Think about the specific details of your personas.
      • Envision what emotions will work best with them, based on their personalities.
      • Considering what service or product you’re offering, you can choose emotions based on that as well.
      • Remember what you include in your ad can trigger them to feel a specific way.
    • The trigger will lead to them to have an emotional reaction and click through.

    Here’s an example: These two ads are both for “Hydroflask.”

    2 examples of Hydroflask Google search ad.
    Examples of ineffective and effective ad copy regarding emotional effects.


    The first ad copy is extremely bland and no emotional connection, whatsoever.

    However, the second copy uses strong emotions with punch words like “tough as hell” and keeps it personal by using “your.” The ad leaves a lasting impression unlike the other.

    This makes the ad copy highly compelling.

    An important emotional trigger you need to know: FOMO

    A businessman that is worried because he saw a countdown timer for a sale that is about to end.
    Example of FOMO is online sale countdown.

    FOMO = fear of missing out

    This emotion causes a sense of feeling left out or missing out on something important.

    The result of this emotion is the act of them engaging in your ad.

    • This is a type of loss aversion to persuade users to convert

    Simple way to implement FOMO is a countdown timer; run in real time.

      • The timer provides a sense of panic and time running out.
    • By instilling time limits, the user thinks they will lose out if they don’t act now.

    Other tactics include copy like: “Sale is almost ending, only one hour left”

      • Creates fear of missing out on opportunity
    • Adding text like “low on stock” or “almost sold out” relays powerful emotional reactions.

    STEP FIVE: Importance of display URLs

    You want unique, keyword-rich display urls.

    What are display URLs?

    • The display URL is what the URL shown in your ad.

    This URL obviously shows the user that they will be sent to a landing page on hotels.

    The display URL can be different from the destination URL.

    When utilized correctly, it can improve click through rates.

    Display URLs serve two purposes: Be something more related to the ad copy subject AND contain your top keywords.

    You can include top keywords in display URLs even if it’s not included in your destination URL.

    If the URL is specific to the user’s desire, it will make them believe the landing page will take them to what they’re looking for.

    It also adds a sense of organization and assurance.

    A person pointing at a computer screen with a URL in a search bar.
    Example of good URL structure.

    Here’s an example of a display URL:

    This tells the user they will be directly led to a landing page for dog food categorized under beef.

    You made it.

    We reached the end of the learning process, but you’re not done yet.

    What should you do now?

    The best way to engrave these killer steps would be through practice.

    After practice, we need to TEST, TEST, TEST!

    The most important thing to do now is test your ads. You’re now ready to write compelling and strategic ad copy, but now we need to figure out which is working.

      • Ad copy takes multiple tries to get it right and the only way to hit the jackpot is by testing them.
      • Take this to the A/B testing stage.
    • A/B testing various ads will allow you to determine which tactics are successfully working for you campaign.

    Now, the next time you’re asked to take on an ad copy task, relax and tap into your brain. Use these valuable steps to help navigate your way and you’ll be deemed as the next ad copy king/queen.

    A person wearing a crown with a sash that reads "Ad copy king".
    Now go make some fire ad copy!

    Resource Center

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    • Are all your keywords necessary? You might be a keyword hoarder. Find information on optimizing your AdWords keywords to boost campaign ROI. 

    Search Engine Journal

    • Learn about different tests to increase CTR and conversion rate for your AdWords ads. You’ll find better test results with these steps. Testing your ads will be much easier after you find out what to exactly test.

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    • Want more tools to sharpen your PPC skills? Discover useful PPC tools to help with keyword, ad copy, and profit analysis. Gain more success with tools that get insight on competitors, different strategies, and more.


    • Get extra tips on how to write converting ad headlines for greater PPC success. Deepen your knowledge on writing effective headlines for higher rankings and conversions. Clearly it is a critical aspect to all ad copy.

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