3 Ways to Create YouTube Ads Without Emptying Your Wallet

Modern YouTube ads set a high bar when it comes to captivating content. Think about it–have you ever gotten so consumed with the pre-video ad that you forgot what you originally came to watch?

Raised hand.


YouTube in-stream ads have come a long way, and they’re arguably much more engaging than a traditional television commercial. That’s because you can take action on YouTube ads: skip, click, watch, share, save, or completely ignore. Plus, they come in segments as short as 6 seconds or as long as 6 minutes.

With so much high-quality content floating around the platform, it can seem like an Olympic hurdle to compete. Unless you’ve got money to blow, you likely can’t afford a high-end production agency or a celebrity endorsement from Zac Efron.


You will need to get creative to produce effective YouTube ads that don’t drain your entire marketing budget. Fortunately, it’s not rocket science. Let us help. We’ll show you a few tried-and-true ways to create YouTube ads on a budget (that don’t suck).

1. Experiment With Different Ad Formats

You don’t need Superbowl-quality video ads to win conversions on YouTube. You actually don’t need video content at all.

The platform hosts a suite of different ad formats, empowering you to buy eyeballs and clicks with display ads, overlays, bumper ads, sponsored cards, and more. If you’re looking to build brand awareness, you might want to use an engaging video. However, if you’re looking to drive traffic to a landing page, a sponsored card may make more sense.

YouTube Ad Formats
This chart from Creator Academy is a quick, easy way to see your YouTube ad options.

Experiment with the different formats to see which suits your goals and budget. Here are a few popular options to play with:

  • Display ads: Display ads appear on the right-hand sidebar near the Up Next or Relevant Video Content. Your ad will feature an image, supporting text, and a link back to your website.
  • In-video overlay ads: Overlay ads appear floating on top of the video content with a headline, supporting text, and a link to your website. They also have a tiny “x” users can click to make the ad disappear.
  • Discovery ads: Discovery ads work a lot like ads on a Google search results page. Your video ad will show up at the top or bottom of the organic YouTube search results, helping you earn viewer attention without necessarily creating content that’s more established or search-worthy than the organic listings.
  • Skippable in-stream video ads: These are the standard ads that give you the option to skip after the first 5 seconds. The money-saving aspect of these ads is that you only pay when a person watches past the first 30 seconds or clicks the ad.
  • Non-skippable in-stream video ads: 76% of people report automatically skipping ads–so some advertisers choose to run non-skippable versions. This can be a more expensive option but it can get the viewer’s undivided attention.

YouTube Ads Button

2. Target Like a Marketing Sniper

The best way to stretch your marketing budget is by hyper-targeting your audience. With over 30 million visitors watching on YouTube every day, you don’t want to waste your money on irrelevant customers or unqualified buyers–and you don’t have to.

“It’s hard to target a message to a generic 35-year-old middle-class working mother of two,” says writer and editor Elizabeth Gardner. It’s much easier to target a message to Jennifer, who has two children under four, works as a paralegal and is always looking for quick but healthy dinners and ways to spend more time with her kids and less time on housework.”

YouTube gives you a lot of flexibility on who you show your ads to. You can tailor your targeting with:

  • Demographics
  • Interests
  • Affinity audiences
  • Life events
  • In-market audiences
  • Past interaction data
  • Offline data
  • Similar audiences

You can also choose where your content is shown based on topics, keywords, and devices.

Opening up the targeting menu can be a bit overwhelming, but don’t skip through this process. We know it’s not the fun part, but this is where the real money-saving creativity comes into play. If you narrow down your target market to your potential buyers and boost your conversion rates, you’ll improve your ROI on every YouTube ad.

Don’t know where to start with YouTube targeting? Try Find My Audience, a tool to help you better understand who your most valuable customers are on YouTube.

Google's Find My Audience tool for YouTube
Google’s Find My Audience Tool is helpful.

3. Spend Your Money on Remarketing Instead of New Marketing

Remarketing should be your top priority. Yes, YouTube can be a great place to build awareness with brand-new audiences, but a cost-efficient use for this platform is to convince those who’ve already interacted with your brand to come back.

Remarketing simply uses data collected from user interactions on your website to market to them more effectively. For example, if a customer visits your site and looks at your formal shoes, you can remarket those shoes (instead of maybe athletic shoes or sandals) to the potential buyer on YouTube.

It might sound a tad creepy, but remarketing is a win-win for everyone. You get to save money by zeroing in on your customer interests, and your audience gets ads truly personalized to their interests. Who doesn’t want more of that?

“Personalization–it is not about first/last name. It’s about relevant content,” says Dan Jak.

Start Advertising on YouTube

Don’t make YouTube advertising harder than it needs to be. It might be a foreign video medium but marketing on this channel is fundamentally the same as Google Adwords or Facebook ads.

The best part about advertising on a platform like YouTube is the granular analytics you get to see. You never have to question whether your ads are effective–you have the data you need to figure out what’s working and what’s not. Use that data to experiment, pivot, and refine your advertising strategies.

Need a little help getting started? We got you covered. Join the waitlist for our upcoming class How to Master YouTube Ads, taught by the one and only Tommie Powers. We’ll help get your YouTube ads up and running with a healthy ROI in no time.

The post 3 Ways to Create YouTube Ads Without Emptying Your Wallet appeared first on Foundr.

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