How to advertise on YouTube

In this guide we'll show you how to get started with the different formats of video advertising on YouTube

Along with posting on social media and maintaining a website for your server, another excellent way of finding new players is to advertise. Banners and Google AdWords are useful, but it’s also worth exploring YouTube’s advertising offerings. It’s a place where video ads are generally welcomed rather than seen as a nuisance, and also makes your message accessible to the widest possible audience.

The other great thing about YouTube advertising is that it’s much cheaper than AdWords. The average cost per click on Google AdWords is $1 to $2, whereas on YouTube that same click through will cost on average $0.10 to $0.30. It’s a big difference, and although the cost of creating video content is higher than making a written ad, with placement fees so low, you can recoup that upfront fee very rapidly over the course of a campaign.

You can target your video ad by the sort of content viewers choose, or place it next to particular types of video, which lets you target individual games if you want to. You can also place your ad next to certain search terms and see what works for your server. 50% of YouTube videos are viewed on mobile so whatever targeting you use, it’s best to make sure your video has a clear, concise call to action to prompt players to click through and find out more. 

Here are some starter tips for getting YouTube ads working for your server. 

1. Set a goal

The first thing you’ll be asked to do when setting up a new campaign is to choose a goal. The options are:

  • Sales
  • Leads
  • Traffic generation
  • Product and brand consideration
  • Brand awareness and reach

The goal you select will filter down the ad types available to you, and you always have the option of proceeding without a goal, which will give you access to all YouTube’s video ad varieties. While there may be times you wish to do this, knowing what you’re trying to achieve, and letting the system nudge you towards the best content formats is usually the best way to start out.

In this case traffic generation is likely to be your best bet. Driving new players to your server’s website is a good way of educating them on what you do, and why it’s cool. As long as your site’s up to date, that’s a good start. 

2. Budget

Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, there are a variety of bidding strategies you can apply to your campaign. Broadly speaking your choices are cost per action (CPA) if you’re looking for conversions, cost per impression (CPM) which gets as many people as possible to see at least some of your ad, and cost per view (CPV) which will get your ad played to as many users as possible. For most servers, CPA is likely to be the most cost effective way of helping new players find out what you do by clicking through. And for everyone that doesn’t you won’t pay a penny. 

You then set your total budget, and the amount you want the system to spend per day. That’s important to ensure a spread of views or actions over a period of time, rather than splurging your budget in a few hours. At this point you can also select a start and end date and time for your campaign. Google Ads will then spread your budget as evenly as possible over the period you’ve selected. 

3. Targeting

This lets you refine the audience that gets to see your ad, and which pages and contexts the ad will appear on, whether in YouTube videos, or across the network of Google video partner sites. Here you’ll be asked to set a preference for language, location, and particular interests. If you’re looking to drive players numbers, location may be less important than language and interests, and it’s worth experimenting with the target groups on offer.

Depending on your spend, you can also use Additional Settings to limit the number of times each user sees your ad.

4. Get your call to action right

Once you’ve uploaded your ad to YouTube, choose an ad format (see below), and enter the URL of the landing page you’re using. If you’ve got time to set one up, it’s best to add a specific landing page targeting people who’ve just watched your ad, rather than sending them to the normal front page of your server’s website. That will help them feel welcome, and you can use that page to ad context to what they’ve already seen in the video.

You’ll also need to add a call to action for your video, which is designed to prompt users watching to click through and try your server. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, e.g. Click here now, or Click to try our server. There are various additional tracking options you can use, but once you’ve added the headline and a banner to go with your ad, you’re ready to name it, and click Create Campaign to save it to YouTube. 

Types of ads available on YouTube 

YouTube ads come in several formats. We’ve broken then down for you here, and you can also read more about each on Google’s YouTube support pages.


Bumpers only last six seconds, and can be shown before, during or after videos. Their brevity is key, and they’re designed to encapsulate a very short, punchy message that can be conveyed extremely fast and without unnecessarily holding back users’ content. These are paid for on a cost per thousand views basis.


Appearing solely on mobile devices, outstream ads aren’t shown on YouTube, but on Google video partner sites - in other words, places where Google ads run. The videos themselves play automatically, but with muted sound. Users interested in the content can unmute the video, and you’re charged for every user that watches two seconds or more of your video.

Video Discovery

These ads are self-selected by viewers. They’re presented with a thumbnail for the ad next to search results, related videos, and on the YouTube mobile home page, and users are at liberty to click on them to find out more. The good news is, you’ll only be charged for users that click the thumbnail to watch your ad.

Skippale in-stream

These play before, during or after a video and as their name implies, after a few seconds, a user can skip past them if they’re not interested in the content. In this case you will only pay for the video impression if a user watches the whole 30 seconds - if they skip you won’t be charged for the portion they watched.

Non-skippable in-stream

Like their skippable counterparts, these can appear at any point in a video, but there is no option to skip, with users unable to move past them to the rest of the video. In deference to this, non-skippable ads are 15 seconds long, so even if users aren’t interested, they don’t have to wait long before moving on. 


Masthead ads appear at the top of YouTube’s Home feed, and autoplay with sound muted as soon as users arrive on the page. After playing, it shows the video’s thumbnail until the user moves off that screen. Unlike other ad formats, this one can’t be booked online, and must be purchased by speaking to a Google ad rep. 

These are the basics of running video-based ad campaigns on YouTube and Google’s wider network. Once you’ve got something up and running and giving you results, there’s plenty you can do to refine your targeting, the ad itself, and the way you frame your calls to action, all of which can be used to enhance results. There are plenty of resources online to pass on more advanced tips, but the key is to keep experimenting, and improving as you go.