Justin Sardi, Founder and CEO of TubeSift, breaks down the best targeting options for ads on YouTube.
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Video Transcript:

Using the Best Options for YouTube Ads Targeting 

Hey, what’s up everybody? Justin Sardi here from tubesift.com. Today we have a really awesome video lined up for you. We’re going to be talking all about the targeting options you can use for YouTube ads, and then we’ll be diving into exactly which ones you should use first and my hierarchy of targeting, if you will.

There are a lot of different options that you can use, and some of those go even deeper. But today we’re going to be talking about demographics, keywords, audiences, placements, topics, and then custom audiences as well.

Targeting by Demographics

Demographics, this is pretty self-explanatory. It’s basically gender, age, parental status and household income. You should know about these before you go into targeting your audience or setting up your ad campaign. You should know who you’re targeting and exactly what gender, what age, and maybe not parental status or household income, but at least the gender and age. I like to use demographics on every single campaign that I run. So I use demographics and then layer everything else on.

One thing that I do want to mention that I kind of forgot to mention in the beginning is when you’re setting up multiple targeting options inside of one ad group, it’s going to be and targeting. As you layer, let’s say, demographics and keywords together, it’s only going to target people that are in that demographic and searching for that specific keyword.

If you throw all of these all at once, all these ones I’m going to be talking about today, all at once into one ad group, it’s not going to work out very well for you because you’re going to restrict it heavily. I like to choose maybe one or two and overlap them, at the most. Let’s keep on going.

Targeting by Audiences

Using keywords to target your audience with YouTube ads is one of the most accurate ways to hit a bullseye with your marketing strategy.

The second option I’m going to be talking about is audiences, and audiences goes very, very deep. Audiences is where your remarketing lists are held, and if you’re not remarketing, you’re definitely leaving money on the table. But all your remarketing is in there. We have detailed demographics. We also have affinity and custom affinity audiences as well as in-market life events and custom intent audiences. Then we also have, like I said, remarketing and similar-to audiences as well as combined audiences.

Custom Affinity Audiences

Let’s talk a little bit about some of the custom audiences that you can set up. The first one I want to talk about is custom affinity audiences. Now, affinity audiences are essentially people that are interested in a specific topic based on their browsing history. You can create custom affinity audiences. You can also use the predefined affinity audiences. Those work really well. But if you can’t find one that is in there, you can actually create your own custom affinity audience.

As you can see on the screen right here, you can actually create these audiences based on their interests. You can throw some keywords in there for their interests. You can take specific URLs that they are visiting and place those in there. You can also go to different places that they have been visiting or different apps they are using. So you can choose all of those different things when setting up a custom affinity audience, and that can all be done through your audience manager in your Google Ads account.

Custom Intent Audiences

The second type of custom audience, and these work extremely well, are custom intent audiences. In Google Ads, they have intent audiences or in-market audiences. Essentially what those are are people who are actively shopping or searching for a product or service. These audiences work extremely well for eCommerce, car dealers, things like that, because think about it. When you are shopping for a product, you might jump over to Google or YouTube and do a quick search for this product versus that product or something along those lines. When you do that, Google knows what you’re searching for and then knows that you are interested or actively shopping for one of these products or services.

Using keywords to target your audience with YouTube ads is one of the most accurate ways to hit a bullseye with your marketing strategy. .  

If you can’t find one of those, you can always create a custom audience based on intent. This is really cool because you can actually create a custom audience based on Google search terms and also in-market keywords. Those will be those buyer keywords and also any of the keywords they have searched for on Google. Essentially, using those Google keywords allows you to bypass using Google search and paying that high PPC cost that’s associated with some of these different keyword searches and push those over to YouTube. Whenever somebody is on YouTube, you can then show them your video ad and reach them for much cheaper than you could with traditional Google PPC.

Targeting by Keywords

The next targeting option we’re going to talk about is keywords. Keywords are extremely powerful for a lot of reasons, but the number one reason that they are so powerful is that YouTube is the second largest search engine on the web behind Google. Like we just mentioned with custom intent audiences, you can also target them based on their Google search terms. However, keywords is a little bit different.

Keywords are basically the keywords they’re searching for on YouTube. Type of targeting works extremely well for video discovery ads as well as in-stream ads, and the way that it works is you basically find the keywords that people are searching for.

What I like to do is use the autosuggest keywords that YouTube gives us because you know that those are the keywords that people are actually searching for. The easiest way to find those, besides going over to YouTube and doing it the manual way, is jumping on over to TubeSift, using our keyword tool, and it will basically take your keyword and then throw the letter A all the way to Z behind that and give you all of those actually-searched keywords that people are searching for on YouTube. You just plug those right into the keyword tab when you’re setting up your campaign.

Targeting by Topics

The next targeting option we’re going to be talking about is topics. Essentially what topics allow you to do is target your audience based on the topic of video that they are watching on YouTube.

One thing that’s important to note is that it’s not just videos on YouTube when you’re using topics. If you choose a topic, let’s say automotive or something like that, it can also place your video ad on other relevant sites, such as whatever, autoblogger.com or carsandtrucksmagazine.com, provided they allow video ads. Using topic targeting will also place your ad across the Google Display Network. From what I’ve found, ads on the Google Display Network, video ads on the Google Display Network tend not to work as well. I tend to avoid topics or use them as a last resort, but we’ll talk about that a little bit when we get into the hierarchy of targeting.

Targeting by Placements

One of my favorite ways to target is by targeting placements. Essentially what placements allow you to do is put your video ad in front of monetized videos. A monetized video is a video that allows an advertisement to be shown in front of it. Now, this can be an in-stream ad or a video overlay ad. If you haven’t checked out our video on video overlay ads and the free training on how to set that up, definitely check that out. That’s also on our blog, and we’ll link to that below this or in the video description as well.

What placements allow you to do, like I said, is put your video ad in front of hyper-relevant videos that you know your audience is going to be watching. This is the lowest possible hanging fruit when it comes to running YouTube ads.

Because if you think about it, let’s say you run a plumbing company and your specialty is unclogging drains. Somebody jumps onto YouTube. They have an urgent problem. Their drain is overflowing right now or maybe their shower is not draining. They jump onto YouTube, look for how to unclog a shower drain or something like that. Right then, they need to unclog their shower drain. So if you run a plumbing company in their area and you want to put an ad, or you do, you put an ad in front of that video saying, “Hey, we’re ABC Plumbing down in Austin, Texas, and we can jump over to your house. We’re on call 24-7 to help you unclog drains. Call us today.” Right? What do you think is going to happen? Odds are you are going to gain a new customer.

This works extremely well in any niche. Maybe you’re a dog trainer. Maybe you sell baby products. It just makes sense that these type of targeting works so well because you are literally putting your video ad and your product or solution in front of somebody at the exact moment they are searching for what you have to offer. That’s why placement targeting is my personal favorite.

The way to find placements is to jump over to YouTube. You can do it the manual way where you jump over to YouTube, search for your keyword, click on a video, see if it has an ad, copy that video URL, go back and forth and do that forever. Or you can also use TubeSift, which our placement finder is extremely to use. You just type in a keyword, hit enter, and it’ll find all of the monetized videos for that keyword up to 300 per search. You can essentially quickly and easily find all of the relevant videos that allow you to place your ad in front of them and see a massive ROI from your advertising campaigns.

TubeSift’s Hierarchy of Targeting

We’ve covered exactly what targeting options are available to advertisers when they’re running ads on YouTube, but all targeting options are not created equally, which is why we have our hierarchy of targeting over here at TubeSift.

This is the order that I start with from the most effective audiences to the least effective audiences. This has been tested over millions of dollars of ad spend, tons of students and tons of TubeSift clients. So this has been very proven to be effective. You might find different, but this is where I like to start.


First targeting option that I always like to use, if I have it, is retargeting. These people are already familiar with you. They already know who you are. They already know about your brand, something like that. If you have a retargeting list, maybe you have a customer list that you upload, obviously those people, hopefully they’ve already had a positive experience with your business and they’re going to be way easier to convert into a customer, right? So I like to start with them.

From there, I also use similar-to audiences, which are basically like look-alike audiences on Facebook, and Google automatically creates those when you have retargeting lists. Those things, if you have them, are a great place to start.


From there, I jump over to placements. Like I talked about on the placements targeting option, it’s drop dead simple and the easiest, lowest hanging fruit on YouTube. Because if somebody is searching for a product or service and you can put that product or service in front of them at the exact moment they’re searching for what you have to offer, it kind of makes sense, right?


Then I move to keywords. Keywords are great because you can use those Google search terms. You can use intent keywords and buyer keywords. I like to go in this order: remarketing, placements, keywords, and then I jump to the in-market audiences. These in-market audiences work extremely well if you are an eCommerce seller or you sell something that is in one of the categories that’s available.

Combined Audiences

Achieving success with your YouTube ads depends on a number of factors but using strong targeting practices is crucial to obtaining a high ROI.

From there, I like to jump over to combined audiences. Combined audiences are essentially an audience, but what you can do is layer things on top of each other. So let’s say you’re trying to target entrepreneurs that are into fitness, right? Maybe you run a high-end coaching for high-performing entrepreneurs or something like that. Or maybe you’re a personal trainer specializing in high-performing entrepreneurs. You can actually layer business owners on top of people that are interested in fitness and target people like that.

I actually did that for a client of mine recently, and we saw amazing results by overlaying two different audience types and really narrowing it down. However, it did narrow our reach, but it didn’t matter because it literally cut our cost per lead by about five times, which was absolutely insane, just by using a combined audience. So those work extremely well.

In-Market Life Events and Custom Intent Audiences

From there, I like to jump over to the in-market life events and custom intent audiences. Those also work really well once you kind of get your offer proven. From there, I move to affinity audiences and very last, and I’m not even going to say but not least because I hate topic targeting, topic targeting. Topics tend to be, like I said, they do show across the Google Display Network. I think that’s one of the reasons they don’t work as well, but another reason is people constantly tag their videos incorrectly on YouTube. That definitely messes with that algorithm a little bit.

Wrap up on Targeting Options

That’s exactly what we start with. If you’re brand new, I recommend starting with placements, which you can find very easily with TubeSift. That about wraps up the targeting options and which targeting options you should start with. You can always jump on over to tubesift.com, sign up for a membership over there and quickly and easily knock out your placements, your keywords, and all of your video, banners, all that good stuff. We have the banner design studio and everything there.

If you liked this video, please give us that thumbs up if you’re watching it on YouTube. Please subscribe to our channel and check us out on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, all that good stuff. We have all kinds of awesome content heading your way. As always, if you go to tubesift.com, you can get yourself an awesome TubeSift membership and really dial in your targeting when it comes to running ads on YouTube. That’s it for me. Bye for now.

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