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Getting started with YouTube Ads for Nonprofits

Getting Started with YouTube Ads for Nonprofits

Our society has become accustomed to YouTube Ads. We can’t watch a go-to-recipe tutorial or a compilation of our favorite comedian, without seeing some sort of YouTube Ad first.

There’s a reason for that. More than 122 million people from 100+ countries use YouTube daily for a variety of information, entertainment and internet search. (Note: YouTube is the second most popular search engine after Google.) Advertisers do what they can to get in front of the people they want to buy their product and many of those people spend lots of time on YouTube.

YouTube advertising may seem out of reach for advertisers with small budgets, like many nonprofits. But there’s good news! YouTube Ads are a great choice and an affordable option for nonprofits looking to enhance their digital presence. With the average ad costing between 10-30 cents per view, advertising on YouTube is accessible even for smaller nonprofits and organizations. The ad spend is also worth it as ads on the video-based platform generate a better return on investment (ROI) than regular TV ads.

Looking to run YouTube Ads but don’t know where to start? This blog will guide your nonprofit through getting started with YouTube Ads.


Different types of YouTube Ads

There is more to YouTube Ads than you may think. Unlike other digital platforms, there is more flexibility in the types of ad placement you can use. Different types of ads give your organization flexibility with content creation and budget.

Skippable in-stream video ads (Most common, skippable after five seconds)

Location: Before, during and after a YouTube video.

Purpose: Tailor these ads to help increase conversions, website traffic, brand awareness and more.

Cost: Cost-per-view (CPV) but only if a user watches at least 30 seconds of your ad, finishes your ad or clicks on your ad.

NOTE: These ads are the most common for a reason – you can essentially get a free view out of a user if you convey your message in the first five seconds. So even if they skip, you still reach that viewer and don’t have to pay for it.

Non-skippable in-stream video ads (15-20 seconds long, cannot be skipped)

Location: Before, during or after a YouTube video.

Purpose: Brand awareness and reach.

Cost: Cost-per-view (CPV) - user must watch the entire ad.

Bumper ads (Six seconds or less, cannot be skipped)

Location: Before, during or after a YouTube video.

Purpose: Brand awareness and reach.

Cost: Cost-per-view (CPV)– entire ad is watched.

In-feed video ads

Location: In search results, on YouTube’s Homepage or as related content in the “watch next” section.

Purpose: Building brand consideration.

Cost: Cost-per-view (CPV) – only pay when a person clicks on the video thumbnail.  


YouTube Ad audiences and targeting

YouTube Ads are set up and managed entirely through Google Ads, an advertising platform developed by Google. There are many important campaign components you can set and curate to reach your intended audiences.

Objective: This setting is where you document what you want your campaign to achieve - build brand awareness or get more website visits.

Demographics: These settings allow you to define traits about your audience. You can either use broad demographics like age, gender and income or use detailed demographics like parental, marital and education status. Generally, ads see more success when demographic information is more specific. (Note: Demographic targeting is limited if you are using the platform for hiring campaigns because of labor laws to limit discriminatory hiring practices.)

Audience segments: Segmentation allows you to combine detailed demographics with interests and behaviors to further tailor your ads to a certain audience. These include in-market segments, interests and life events. 

Keywords: Keywords help Google Ads decide what content channel to use for your ads. For example, if one of your keywords is “philanthropy,” your ads will be on or near videos and channels relating to it.

Location targeting: Targeting your ad by country, state and city help you dictate the locations your ad will be visible.

Bidding preferences: This setting depends on the type of campaign you’ve created and the goals you are trying to achieve. You will either pay per click, per 30 second view or per every 1,000 impressions.

Frequency capping: This setting allows you to control impression frequency (how many times your ad will be shown to a particular user) and view frequency (how many times your ad can be viewed or interacted with by a particular user).


Best practices for YouTube Ads

Now that you are acquainted with the different ad types and settings there are some general best practices you should follow when getting started with YouTube Ads.

Know your target market

Knowing your audience and target market will inform the content you create and your targeting strategies when you set up your campaigns in Google Ads. If you don’t already have marketing personas developed for your organization, now is the time to start sketching those out.

Google Ads comes with great tools to help you gain more information on your audience. Google’s Audience Insights, for example, can help you break down your conversions to better understand their interests and behaviors.

Remember - the more you know about and understand your audience, the more efficient and cost-effective your campaigns will be. With these insights, you can segment your audiences for each campaign into demographics like where they work and live, or you can cater to an audience based on interests and habits.

Have strong, dynamic creative and clear messaging

The average person might see between 7,000-10,000 marketing messages a day. So, you want to make sure yours are standing out.

The first five seconds of your YouTube ad are precious, and it may be the only time you have to make an impression. Make your hooks strong and clear with a general message that is easily grasped by the viewer in those few short moments.

  • Brand the creative components of your ads to fit your organization’s unique personality, using consistent colors and style.
  • Create content that is enticing and engaging.
  • Use high-quality production. It may come at a cost, it is well worth the investment in the long run. Not only will it better capture the attention of viewers and leave a positive impression about your organization, but professionally made content can increase the chances of conversions and engagement.

A survey by Wyzowl reported that 87% of marketers receive a good ROI from their video marketing campaigns.

Diversify your campaigns

The more campaigns you have with different ad formats and purposes, the more goals you’ll be able to achieve. Run different ad types simultaneously to give you an all-encompassing strategy that will make your ad presence on YouTube even stronger.

Consistently analyze data and experiment

A campaign needs to be nurtured – you can’t simply start one and let it be. As your campaigns continue to run, you should be constantly monitoring their progress to make sure they are hitting or on their way to hitting the goals of that campaign. Luckily, Google Ads’ analyzing tools collect data in real time for you to easily see your ad metrics. Regularly review data and keep experimenting/tweaking your campaign if it isn’t performing as expected.


YouTube Nonprofit Program

If you have a Google for Nonprofits account, you can access the YouTube Nonprofit Program. This program offers unique benefits and tools to help your organization navigate the platform and even fundraise through the YouTube Giving features. It is just another valuable way to take advantage of all YouTube has to offer.


Video is a great way to connect with and reach your audiences. And when done right, advertising on YouTube can help your organization reach a variety of its goals, from securing donations to building awareness about the awesome work you do and more.

Is your nonprofit ready to get started with YouTube ads? Need help setting up a Google Ads account or managing campaigns? Reach out to our Dot Org team today!




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