Innnn this comprehensive YouTube ads guide you'll discover:

  • The Opportunity of YouTube Ads for 2020 
  • The Risks of not diversifying your traffic in 2020
  • Exactly how to set up, run, test and scale your YouTube Ads, step-by-step

How many times has your favorite YouTube cat video been  interrupted by a pesky YouTube ad, like this one from

Want to get free access to the tool we built to discover & track competitor YouTube ads? Go here to get full free access. 

I’m willing to bet you’ve seen this exact ad more than a couple times.

So why do big companies like spend literally millions of dollars on YouTube ads like this?

Because YouTube ads flat-out work.

(Here’s a screenshot from our internal YouTube ad spy tool & ad library showing that they’ve spent an estimated $2.8+ million USD on just this one ad)

YouTube Ad stats are provided by our Free VidTao YouTube Ad Research Software. Click for Free, Full Access.

And YouTube ads don't just work for big, Venture Capital-backed companies like

Smaller businesses are finding new sources of customers - at massive scale - using YouTube ads.

Looking to use YouTube ads to grow your e-commerce business?

You don’t need a blockbuster budget to get results. Simple, low-budget YouTube ads are working great for e-commerce products. 

Just look at this YouTube ad for the DIY plastic welder product Bondic:

Check it out: they’ve spent over $197k (estimated) on this one YouTube ad:

YouTube ad spy tool dashboard screenshot of bondic youtube ad adspend performance over time

Or take this simple solar battery ecommerce product from 4Patriots:

The amount they’ve spent on this simple iphone video ad? Nearly $1.1 Million USD (estimated).

YouTube ad spy tool dashboard screenshot of 4patriots solar battery youtube ad adspend performance over time

Do you sell information products online?

YouTube ads are an absolute goldmine when it comes to selling information products.

Need proof? No doubt you've seen ads from big-budget info product publishers like MindValley...

youtube ad performance screenshot

But what you might not know?

You don't need to have a huge production budget to make winning YouTube ads for information products. 

Even one-man-show “infopreneurs” selling how-to information products as affiliates are spending close to 6 figures (and making many multiples more) on simple, low-budget YouTube ads made with just a simple iphone and some cheap b-roll footage, like this one from Emil Sundell:

YouTube ad spy tool dashboard screenshot of Emil Sundell youtube ad adspend performance over time

So... What's Your Excuse?

If you’re not already using YouTube ads to scale your business...

Why not?

  • Maybe you don’t know how to get started?
  • Maybe you've tried, but gave up after not immediately getting the results you were looking for?

If so, this free YouTube ads guide is going to change all that.

youtube ads guide for 2020 - step-by-step guide how to do it

It’s 2020 and YouTube is STILL a massively under-utilized “Blue Ocean” traffic source, untapped for most business verticals. 

Just ask yourself:

How many of your competitors are using Facebook ads?


How many are effectively using YouTube ads?

In the past 12 months, YouTube has made a big push to make the platform as high-performing for direct response marketing as possible.

Which means it’s never been easier to have success with YouTube ads.

And with more and more businesses every day shifting ad spend to YouTube to avoid being dependent on Facebook…

…it’s probably NOT going to get any cheaper.

Right now could be your opportunity to cash in on YouTube as a traffic source, before your competitors even know what hit them.

  • So if Facebook ads are your main (or only) source of new customers...
  • And if you are sick of rising ad costs and account shutdowns...

The time is now to start leveraging YouTube ads to grow your business.

And in this step-by-step guide we’re going to walk you through exactly how to do it.

In this free step-by-step YouTube ad training series we’re going to cover...

  • WHY - Why YouTube Ads are your business’ biggest scaling opportunity for 2020 (and beyond)
  • HOW - Our step-by-step guide to set up, launch and scale YouTube ads based on what we’ve learned from managing over $1 Million USD/month in YouTube adspend.

But first, we need to twist the knife a bit to emphasize what's at stake if you don't take action to diversify your traffic right now...

Diversify or Die: YouTube ad guide for 2020 youtube ad step-by-step guide

A Note of Caution: Diversify or Die

Quick thought experiment:

If you could no longer advertise on Facebook…

What would happen to your business?

Do you have another proven way to predictably acquire customers?

Or would your cash flow (and your business itself) stop DEAD in its tracks?

The Big Fish Keep Getting Bigger

If it’s getting more and more expensive for you to advertise on Facebook, you are not alone.

Big advertisers are dumping more and more money into the digital channels they’ve been able to figure out & make profitable.

YouTube Ads Guide 2020 - Facebook Adspend upto 2018

As a result, it’s getting more and more expensive for smaller advertisers to compete.

This is nothing new. It’s been going on for the entire history of mass advertising.

In the 1950s, the average person saw 500 ads per day. 

1950s pepsi ad - for youtube ad step-by-step guide

Now? That number is over 5000 ads per day.

In the last 50 years TV advertising grew to completely dominate print media.

Decades later, TV was eclipsed by Cable TV.

Then, with the emergence of the internet, as human attention traveled from TV to digital, advertising money followed.

Between 2000 and 2017, TV advertising spend went from $100 billion to $180 billion per year. 

Over that same period, Digital Media ad spend went from nearly non-existent to surpassing TV advertising spend at over $209 billion per year.

Predictions are that by end of 2023, digital spend will more than double, to $517 billion per year.

youtube ad guide 2020 - global marketing prediciions 2019

The problem this presents for your business is simple:

More and more advertising dollars are competing for the same eyeballs - massively increasing your cost to reach your audience.

[Case Study] "Peak Facebook": Facebook’s Ad Inventory Dilemma

Since you’re not alone in using Facebook (it’s the  most widely used ad platform for both B2C and B2B businesses right now), you’re no doubt seeing this increase first hand. 

Let’s take a closer look at why this is happening.

We’ll use Facebook’s US market as an example.

Limited Supply + High Demand = Rising Ad Costs

Facebook users will only tolerate so many ads in their “newsfeed” before the quality of their experience deteriorates and they respond by using the platform less.

Here is the problem: Although Facebook’s user count is still growing globally (to 2.2 Billion users as of Q4 2018), in many key markets - like the US - users are actually leaving the platform.

Starting in 2017, Facebook has actually seen US user count decrease:

facebook user count decrease 2018

...While at the same time, Facebook’s US advertising spend continues to increase, year after year:

facebook advertising revenue 2010 to 2019

As a result, in 2017 Facebook reached “Peak Ad Load” on their prime ad real estate: the Facebook Newsfeed, leading to dramatic increases in the price of advertising.

peak facebook nyt

Thankfully for Facebook, their Instagram platform gave them another ad placement to use to increase ad volume.

And everything was fine for a while, even as ad prices steadily increased.

But by 2019, Instagram newsfeed had reached “Peak Ad Load” too:

instagram peak ad load 2019 motley fool

While Facebook continues to scramble to acquire & create new ad inventory, the situation is clear:

  • Limited supply (limited number of users & placements to show ads)
  • Rising demand (rising ad dollars).

As a result? Ad costs on Facebook will continue to rise.

If you’re completely dependent on Facebook for your customer acquisition, make no mistake:

Your cost to acquire a customer is only going to get worse.

If you continue to do what you’ve been doing, without changing course?

You are going to see your profit margins continue to shrink,  jeopardizing your business.

And you are probably already aware of this.

Which leads us to what could be your lifeboat in this sea of rising ad costs: YouTube ads.

Why YouTube ads in 2020? Step-by-step guide to run YouTube ads for 2020 and beyond

So… Why YouTube Advertising?

So why are YouTube ads so powerful and so promising?

First and very important:


YouTube has none of the ad inventory issues plaguing the Facebook newsfeed. 


Over 600 hours of video content are uploaded to YouTube every minute - and that rate is only increasing, check it out:

YouTube hours of content uploaded every minute -

YouTube hours of content uploaded every minute -

( this image courtesy of the outstanding article from Rasty Turek at, found here: )

This means each minute that passes there are MORE places to put your ads on YouTube, not fewer.

And that’s just for starters. Let’s look at the many ways you can show your ads to the best possible audience, at the moments when they are most receptive to your message...


Because YouTube is a Google property, your targeting options leverage Big G’s thousands of data points on users' browsing behavior across all their devices, allowing you to target users based on...

  • What they’re searching for right now or historically (via Keyword / Custom Intent targeting) 
  • What they're viewing right now (put ads in front of your competitor’s videos or channels via Placement targeting)
  • Products or services they are actively considering buying right now (via In-Market audiences)
  • Even the websites they visit (target users who visit your competitor’s websites via Custom Intent / Custom Affinity targeting).

...All that in addition to targeting options you’re probably already familiar with like Age/Gender/Location Demographics, Browser, Device, and “Similar to” audiences (the Google Ad equivalent to Facebook’s “Lookalike” audiences)


YouTube is the #2 most visited website on the internet (after Google),  #2 social network (after Facebook), and #2 search engine (also after Google), with:

  • 1.3 billion active users
  • Over 1 billion hours of content watched each day
  • Over 600 hours of content uploaded each minute
  • 90% of U.S. internet users aged 18 to 44 years are active Youtube users
  • YouTube accounts for 37% of ALL mobile internet traffic

Plus: 90% of YouTube users say they discover new products & services on the platform. These users are buyers - not just passive viewers. 

And as a result, the scaling potential is truly massive.

Want a deep dive into the scaling potential of YouTube ads? Watch two of our advertising heroes (John Belcher & Bryant Garvin) discuss how Bryant leveraged $120 Million in YouTube adspend - in just one year -  to grow Purple Mattress form zero to over $405 Million in yearly revenue:


Here’s one of the best parts about YouTube advertising:

On Facebook, you pay per impression, or each time your ad shows.

But on YouTube, with the TrueView Instream ads (the “workhorse” ads that make up 95%+ of the often $1M+ USD/mo our team spends on ads)...

If someone sees your ad, but skips it before 30 seconds?

You don’t pay.

With YouTube Instream ads, you only pay when someone:

  • Watches 30+ seconds of your video ad
  • Or clicks through to your website

This means you only pay for relevant traffic from users who are actually interested in & engaged with your content.

Think about it.

30 seconds of is a LOT of time to get someone to know, like and trust your brand.

And those people who skip your ads and you don’t pay for? Many of them will still go back to visit your site via Google search. 

When Purple Mattress looked into their data…

People who saw an ad but skipped it were 600% more likely to search on Google for Purple Mattress and actually visit their site.

This is literally free exposure and free traffic, each time your YouTube ad shows.

(And it's part of the reason why YouTube ads have such a  “halo effect” to drive awareness & sales beyond just what's directly measurable via click-based attribution.)


Users go to YouTube with a completely different mindset than when they are mindlessly scrolling through Facebook.

You might hop on to Facebook to scroll your newsfeed while wasting time in line at the store…

But viewers go to YouTube with specific intent: to be educated or entertained in very specific ways. 

Just look at this data from Google on why people visit YouTube:

youtube ads user intent on the platform

Results are clear: 

We go to YouTube to with a clear INTENT: to be educated or entertained.

And the way they consume the content on the platform makes our ads that much more effective, and here's why:


Because users go to YouTube with the intention to consume and immerse themselves FULLY in the content, with their eyes and ears:

96% of videos on YouTube are watched with the sound on...

...Versus Facebook where 85% of videos are watched with the sound OFF.

As a result? YouTube users get more absorbed & engaged with the content, and average time on site proves this: 

Users spend an average of 40 minutes per session on YouTube - versus just 12 minutes for Facebook.


Because of their intent when on the platform and watching with open eyes and ears to the content, YouTube users are in a completely different mindstate when they see your ads.

And that’s why YouTube is so powerful: 

It is an immersive platform, versus the interruptive nature of Facebook.

Instead of a quick “curiosity click” from a user mindlessly scrolling their newsfeed, YouTube users are immersed in content they actually want to be watching. 

Make ads that are congruent with their experience?

And you're going to get a deeper impact and better results than you might get from a quick “curiosity click” on Facebook.

Let's take a look at a few more examples...

youtube ad case studies from our vidtao youtube ad spy tool and ad library

Impact: YouTube Ad Case Studies

What does all this add up to? 

Done right, YouTube ads are one of the most powerful methods to scaling your business.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of ads from a variety of markets that have been running for some time at scale:

Purple Mattress spent over $9 Million dollars (estimated) on just this one ad:

That Purple Mattress ad cost well into 6 figures to produce.

Want to see one that probably cost under $1000 to create?

Check out this simple, yet very effective, dating info product ad ($209k spent so far):

youtube ad spy tool dashboard screenshot of youtube ad performance

Info Products are tailor-made for selling on YouTube.

Just look at this Motley Fool promo, currently spending around $20k per day and over $1.2 million USD total (estimated):

youtube ad spy tool motley fool amsterdam 2019

Unusual products are easily explained on YouTube.

Check out this YouTube ad for a Furbo Dog Camera, where they spent an estimated $27k+ on this one video for the lead up to Black Friday / Cyber Monday 2019:

youtube ad spy tool screenshot furbo dog camera

(It's interesting to see how they stopped this ad on Wednesday December 4th, immediately after Cyber Monday/Tech Tuesday 2019.)

youtube ad spy tool dashboard screenshot

On the iphone app front, looks like Noom (weight loss app) has spent an estimated $405k adspend on just this one quiz YouTube ad:

youtube ad guide 2020 spy tool software

And this is just one of many YouTube ads they've been testing recently:

noom youtube videos from youtube ad spy tool dashboard

This beautifully done video for Kamikoto Japanese knives appears to be working well. They've spent over $85k on this one ad:

youtube ad spy tool screenshot kamikoto knives

But remember, you do NOT need to have a high production value video to get amazing results with YouTube ads.

A simple iphone video and some testimonial screenshots (with high quality script copywriting) has been a winning ticket for this "make money online" YouTube ad below.

Looks like they are spending around $3k/day (and over $638k total) on this one ad:

youtube ad spy tool dashboard screenshot for info product

One of the best methods to test and include in your YouTube ad campaigns is this:

Let your customers sell your product for you.

Customer testimonials, done right, are one of the best ways to sell on YouTube both at the top of the funnel as well as deeper in the funnel.

Here are a couple great examples from skincare company Curology:

youtube ad spy tool curology video ad results
youtube ad spytool dashboard screenshot curology

And if you're in the eco-friendly Graffiti Removal business?

Well I hate to break it to you, but these guys have you beat:

youtube ad spy tool graffiti removal video ad

Get That Gold...

Remember, whether you're talking to your customers on the phone, using an open-ended survey, or "mining" Amazon to get this data, you'll know your customers': 

  • Challenges
  • Hopes
  • Fears
  • Pain Points
  • Internal Storylines
  • etc.

...In the exact language they use when talking to themselves. 

The next step?

Let's see how take all this gold from your market and turn it into high-performing YouTube ads.

How to Script High-Performing YouTube Video Ads

You’ve done the research and now you know:

  • Who your ideal customers are
  • The biggest problems they face
  • The ideal results they want

...All in their own language.

Now it’s time to assemble all these pieces into a video ad funnel that gets them to take action. 

Here is what it looks like on a high level:

Your ad creatives are the most crucial element in your YouTube ad campaign:

  • A good ad with bad targeting and media buying strategy can still give you decent results.
  • A bad ad with good targeting and media buying strategy is probably not going to work.

Remember: You DO NOT need “Pro Quality” ultra-produced videos to scale to thousands per day on YouTube. (An iphone / gopro / webcam is enough to get started)

BUT your your messaging DOES need to be on-point and speak directly to your ideal customer's unique pain points, hopes and fears. 

(And because you’ve done your research, you’ve already got this covered.)

Let’s dive in to some of the easy-to-follow video script formulas/frameworks we like to use when starting to test a new offer.


Top Of Funnel YouTube Ad Video Script Formulas/Frameworks

At this stage you are showing videos to people who are completely unaware of your business, so there are a few key things to consider.

You’ll want to spin up at least 3 different 1–3 min videos following these formulas/frameworks — the more you test the better odds you have of finding a winner you can scale to the moon with.

Let’s walk through a very general framework and then a couple excellent alternatives, so you have a few options for your first stab at scripting your YouTube Ads.

Next Steps...

Ok, that was ton of info. Let's take a pause to let all this sink in. I just want to make sure you understand:

  1. The Opportunity you have to grow your business in 2020 with YouTube ads...
  2. What's at stake if you do not take action to diversify your traffic right now...
  3. Understand that you do NOT need a huge production budget to get started running YouTube ads. (In most cases just an iPhone is enough to create & start testing your first videos.)

Now that we've established all that and you're raring to go out there and blast some YouTube ads to the four corners of the internet, let's get into the nitty-gritty "how to" of it all.

YouTube Ads Step-by-Step Guide (for 2020)

Part 2: How To Do It

Now here in part 2 let’s dive into the details on how to set up, run, test and scale your YouTube Ads, step-by-step.

youtube ads who is your customer

STEP 1: RESEARCH: Get to Know Your Ideal Customer

WHO does your business serve?

This is the most important question we need to get concrete answers to before we get into anything else.

And that’s exactly what we’re going to walk through in this section: 

We're going to walk through the simple research framework you can use to know your customers' hopes, fears, pain points and storylines better than they do themselves. 

(Do NOT skip this step - it's the "secret sauce" to making YouTube ads work...)

But first, let's take a step back:

What is advertising, anyways?

At its core, advertising is simply connecting people who have problems, with the solutions to those problems.

All any ad platform does (YouTube, Facebook, or anything else) is just amplify this human to human communication.

So the more we know about: 

  • Who our customers are
  • The problems they have...
  • How their lives will change from solving these problems...

...the better we can communicate the value of what we sell, and make sure people who we can help are actually aware of our solution.

Let’s take a look at how to actually get this data.

Diving into Demographics...

Let’s start with the obvious big-picture demographics.

If you have an existing business with Google Analytics set up, your audience’s demographics is just a few clicks away.

Check out an age & gender breakdown of your audience. Login and navigate to “Demographics” → “Overview”

youtube ad research - demographics breakdown age gender etc

Check out an age & gender breakdown of your audience. Login and navigate to “Demographics” → “Overview”


Go to “Geo” → “Location” and you can dive deep into where these people live on a national, state, and even city level:


(If you are launching a new business or simply don’t have Google Analytics set up, we’ll cover how you can grab this data via another method in just a moment).

Ok, so now we have a broad strokes look at our audience: their age, gender, and where they live.

Take some notes on what you find here, this is going to help inform our targeting and initial tests.

But this research is just scratching the surface and actually not nearly the most important element of our research.

Let's take a look at how we can go much, much deeper...

youtube ad research - humans are not numbers

Each Ad Impression = A Human Being Viewing Your Ad

As digital marketers, we are obsessed with numbers:

  • CPM (“Cost per Mille” or cost per 1000 impressions)
  • CTR (Click through rate)
  • CPC (Cost per click)
  • CPA (Cost per acquisition)
  • etc.

And since we are so focused on numbers, it is all too easy to forget something: 

Behind each impression, click, or purchase is a human being with a unique story going on in their head.

Good advertising (the kind that builds relationships and gets results) is nothing other than:

  • Understanding the story going on in your prospect’s head
  • Speaking directly to this story - and the hopes and fears that underlie this story

So how do we figure out the conversation in their head?

Here’s what not to do: Guess.

And this is where most “customer avatar” exercises go wrong. You’ve probably seen a few:

youtube ad research - don't do this customer avatar unless you have data


If this “Tommy Technology” avatar is based on a bunch of guesses? It’s worthless at best.

“The problem with many personas is that they’re either based on irrelevant data, poorly sourced data, or no data at all.”

- Jennifer Havice, ConversionXL

So what to do instead?

If you want to identify the conversation going on in your market’s head right now…
...So you can craft the most impactful messaging that will get your ideal customers to take action…

Don’t Guess.

Instead, STEAL this messaging directly from your market.

“You shouldn’t look inside your head for the messages that will convince your prospects.

You’re not your prospect. So how the hell could you know what they need to hear? It’s vanity to think you could.

Instead of writing your message, steal it. Steal it directly from your prospects.”

- Joanna Wiebe, founder of CopyHackers

If you have an existing business or email list, you have a few ways you can do this easily:

  • Open-ended Survey: Email your list of customers (or pay to email someone else’s list of customers) and use an open-ended survey framework like  Ryan Levesque’s ASK Method “Deep Dive Survey” to extract open-ended survey responses from them, which you can mine for insights.
    • Ryan’s outstanding book ASK & ASK Method Masterclass go into much more detail on this, but a very quick overview is this:
      • Ask your audience (via email, a simple Google Form or survey software like or typeform) to describe, in their own words, their “#1 single biggest challenge when it comes to whatever problem your product solves.
      • Armed with this data, you summarize & classify the responses into 3-5 groups
      • Build out customized messaging to speak to each of the segments you identify
    • Here is another approach to open-ended surveys from ConversionXL

PRO TIPS: At the end of your survey: 

1) Send participants to a video submission form to automatically collect video testimonials you can use in your marketing.

2) As the final "thank you page" for completing the survey, send them to a special offer to buy your product at a discount (this works even if these customers have already purchased the product)

No Audience? No Problem.

But what if you’re starting from scratch in a new market with no email list / social media following / audience at all?

Don't sweat it. Here are a couple options:

No List Option #1: Paid Email Drop

  • Reach out to product owners in your market and ask to pay them to send an email with a link to your open-ended survey to their list of buyers.

No List Option #2: Amazon Review Mining

  • This is a great option if you have more time than money to invest. Just apply Joanna Wiebe’s “Amazon review mining” approach by looking at reviews for a few relevant books on amazon, copy/pasting memorable phrases into a spreadsheet like this:.
youtube ad research - amazon review mining from copyhackers


Here is more gold from Joanna Wiebe on this process:

“When you go through user reviews one by one, what’s really important to your prospects rises to the top. You see recurring questions, recurring statements. You hear their frustrations, and you can feel their excitement. This all makes its way into your copy and messaging hierarchy – the things you need to say, and the order in which your visitors need to read them. Naturally, this exercise reveals not only pure gold for copywriting, but also for product development.”

- Joanna Wiebe, founder of CopyHackers

(Check out her post here for the full breakdown on Amazon Review Mining, plus a link to an editable version of the above table)

General Top Of Funnel YouTube Ad Video Formula


The first 5 seconds of your ad are CRUCIAL to getting viewers who are relevant to your offer to stop what they’re doing and not click the “Skip Ad” button.

We are trying to make relevant viewers interested enough so they stick around past when that “skip ad” button pops up 5 seconds into the video.

(Viewers cannot skip the ad for the first 5 seconds)

Question Hook: Asking a relevant question is a simple way to “hook” relevant viewers in these first 5 seconds:

  • Ask a question directly to your target audience (use their language from your survey/interview here)
    • “Do you struggle with [problem]?”
    • “Wish you could [get desired result] without [main obstacle]?”

Watch this question hook example from from this Organifi YouTube ad ($87k+ spent on this one ad):

Notice the opening question: “Ever pass someone on the street with gorgeous glowing skin and wonder, "What does she got? I gotta get some of that!"


"Do This Not That" Hook: This curiosity-provoking opening formula can work well too:

“If you [describe problem], do [X] instead of [Y]”

Look at this example from an arthritis product:

"If you have arthritis, you should be eating more of this [cherries] and not this [tomatoes]"


Audio/Visual Pattern Interrupt Hook: Showing something unusual in the first 5 seconds - as long as it’s relevant to your product & target market so you don’t attract people who aren’t a good fit - is a great way to open your YouTube ads.

You can use odd “props” in the video to catch attention visually, or even ask a question referring to the odd object:

“What does [holds up weird thing] have to do with [getting a result your audience wants]? I’ll get to that in a moment…”

Here is a great example of a 5 second pattern interrupt from the YouRube ad for the webinar for Alex Becker's Shopify course:


Notice the “thud” of the sewing machine on the table? Remember that 90%+ of youtube videos are watched with sound ON. Feel free to tastefully use sound in your pattern interrupt.

Here is another audio/visual pattern interrupt from newspaper Epoch news from an ad they've spent nearly $1 Million dollars on. Notice how they use a couple mechanisms together:

  • Visual pattern interrupt (image of current news hot topic) as a prop, along with...
  • A relevant question directed to their target market: “Are you tired of the media pushing false narratives?”

Or check out this intro from alternative streaming media service Gaia, where you are shown images of a supposedly alien life forms while stating:

"The results strongly support that these beings are not closely related to any known organism..."

If you’re interested at all in aliens, think you might stick around past the first 5 seconds to watch more?

At over $280k+ estimated adspend for this one ad, seems like more than a handful of people are


User Success Stories Hook: Nothing adds believability like a good user story.

You can use actual user-generated video testimonials (like the ones you collect with the video collection mentioned earlier) like Metabolic Factor does here:


Higher production user stories - cut for maximum impact and stacked one after another - can work fantastic, like this example from Noom weight loss app:


"You're About to Discover [X]" Hook: This isn't the most creative hook but it still works well:

“You’re about to discover how I did [desirable result]"

Here's one YouTube ad example from an Amazon training info product that's clearly been successful ($688k+ estimated adspend):


Simple Product Demonstration: Do you have a unique physical product that pretty much explains itself?

A straightforward & simple product demonstration can also work as an opening hook, as shown in these two physical product ecommerce YouTube ads (each with over $400k estimated adspend):


Next Steps....

Whichever approach you choose, hook your prospect’s attention in these first 5 seconds and you will have earned their attention to pass to the next stage...

PART 2: DISQUALIFICATION (During 1st 30 Seconds)

Because you pay for a YouTube instream ad when someone clicks or watches more than 30 sec of the video...

You want to drive down your CPC & CPA by disqualifying as many viewers as possible who are not a good fit for the product, before they hit that 30 second mark.

Sometimes the opening hook itself will do this filtering, but other times you might need to specifically disqualify viewers.

Think about your audience. Who are people who keep signing up for your offer but are actually a poor fit?

This disqualification step can be crucial when you are sending ads to a webinar to a sales call.

For instance, maybe you have a high ticket coaching program but you’re getting a bunch of MLM and drop shipping people signing up for sales calls, wasting your sales staff's time and your money.

Blatantly disqualify these poor fit viewers by calling them out directly:

“And if you’re doing MLM or an amazon drop shipping business? This is NOT for you…”

(Again, sometimes you can skip this section if the hook itself adequately disqualifies people who. aren't a good fit)


Emotion drives action.

Your YouTube ad needs to trigger & resonate with the emotions your ideal audience is already feeling around this issue, so they finally take action to improve their lives.

Trigger emotion by using your audience’s internal hope & fear storylines from your survey & interviews, using exactly the same language they are telling themselves:

  • Activate the pain: “Are you struggling with [pain - using your audeience's exact survey language]?”
  • Activate the desire: “Do you wish you could [get desired result - using the exact survey language]?”
  • Create an “Open Loop” that teases future solution without common obstacle: “In just a moment I’m going to show you exactly how to [get desired result] using [curiosity-provoking method] and without [common obstacle]...”

These phrases are a good place to start. But there's actually a much more powerful way to activate pain, activate desire, and create an "open loop" that drives your audience to take action...

Trigger Emotion Via STORYTELLING

What is the most effective way to:

  • Attract the attention of your ideal audience
  • Engage their emotions
  • Get them to take action?

The answer?


Using story allows you to build rapport & authority by sharing: 

  • How you understand where the prospect is at
  • Why you are uniquely qualified to speak about this topic and help them achieve what they want to achieve, via your product/process/etc

The Primal Power of Story

Why are stories so powerful?

They tap into one of the key unique characteristics of human beings:

We are the only species who can imagine something outside of our direct experience.

As a result, our evolutionary hard wiring causes us to respond to a story as if we are actually the one experiencing it.

In this case, when it comes to connecting with your audience and getting them to take action, the most powerful story is this:

They story they are telling themselves right now.

  • Their Inner story...
  • Their Worldview...
  • Their Beliefs...
  • Their Hopes...
  • Their Fears...
  • How they frame their life from the moment they were born up until this point...

These are the inner stories you want to become intimate with if you want to properly serve your audience by leading them to the transformation your products promise.

And it’s the data you collect in the research phase that allows you to do this.

Let’s look at a few ads that do a great job of triggering emotion with STORY:

See founder Vishen Lakhiani’s personal story relating to his own aging and fitness (used here to share about a fitness product) starting at 0:38:


Even better can be actually having your customers themselves tell their story, directly on the video, as weight loss app Noom does here:


Even better can be actually having your customers themselves tell their story, directly on the video, as weight loss appAnd if you have survey data but don’t have a way to get your customers on camera? You can simply hire actors to convey your customers’ language around their frustrations and hopes, like FitTrack does here: Noom does here:


A Note on Brand Story

Customer stories like we’ve been talking about can be crucial, especially for problem/solution oriented products.

Story is also massively important for brands - especially when it comes to differentiating your brand’s offerings from other, similar commoditized products.

Why is Rolex able to charge $10k+ for an object that tells the time - something that you can get from Timex for $25?

Simple. Brand positioning which comes down to the story that Rolex tells about their brand. Since we’re talking about watches, let’s look at this ad from new watch brand Filipo Loreti, which does a great job of positioning their product as a blend of luxury Italian style but at a reasonable price. (Notice how it clearly explains the mechanism that allows both of these characteristics in a single product). This ad’s skilful use of high quality footage and storytelling making this watch brand stand out from being just another watch brand:



Whenever possible you will want have elements of social proof & demonstration of expertise/value in your Your YouTube ads.

Here are a few mechanisms to include in your ads that allow you to do this:

  • Provide a brief demonstration of value (“quick tip” etc.) while making clear that there is much more value when they click through to the next page.
  • Show other customers who have also achieved success
  • Show where you/your product have been featured in media etc.

Demonstration of Value: "Quick Tip" Example


Social Proof Example

You can use screenshots of testimonials as this Amazon FBA course does here at around 0:48 in this video:


You can also simply summarize your customers’ results while showing them on screen, like this ad for Amazon training does starting around 0:08:


Or even better, have your actual customers talk about the effect your product has had in their lives, like this Dr. Squatch soap ad does here starting at 3:53:



We don’t want the video to end too quickly, before the viewer has had a chance to click through to your offer page. So at the end of the video, for at least 15 seconds, tell the viewer exactly what to do to take the next step.

We are huge fans of William Painter’s YouTube ads - they are hilarious, edgy and clearly drive an insane amount of results. They take this long CTA to an extreme in this video (scroll to 2:30 in this video for 45 seconds of “Call to Action” + Comedy)

Middle of Funnel + Bottom of Funnel Videos

Ok, so your audience watched your Top of Funnel video, (or at least 30 seconds of it), maybe clicked to your site…

...BUT - they didn’t sign up or buy.

Now what? 

Follow up with your non-buyers to build a relationship, demonstrate value, and get them to take action by using the video ad frameworks below: 


Social Proof YouTube ads:

Want to push your aspiring customer over the edge and get them to actually try your product? Show your users/customers actually interacting with / praising the product, on camera can be gold for this. Here are a couple great examples of this approach from William Painter Sunglasses:

Review Videos: “Ownership Experience”: Unboxing Video Ads

Unboxing videos are a great way for your viewer to get an “ownership experience” - to see what it’s like to receive and start interacting with a product. And if unboxing videos make sense for your product, you should definitely test them for your MOFU/BOFU ads.

Here’s one from ProLon: 

Here’s an unboxing YouTube ad from subscription beauty box company FabFitFun:

How to make an “unboxing” video of Your SaaS or Info Product…

Running YouTube ads for a Software as a Service (SaaS) or Information Product? You don’t need to have a physical product to reap the benefits of creating an “ownership experience” for your prospects.

Just show a quick peek at how it looks to use the product, like WikiBuy does here in this simple ad:

Bottom of Funnel: “Fence Jumper” Videos

When people are already aware of you & your product, have already been shown the value it provides…

...Sometimes all they need is a little push to get them over the edge.

This is why “Bottom of Funnel” (BOFU) “Fence Jumper” ads/offers can be so great for getting people to finally take action and purchase.

Things like…

  • A deadline to join
  • An expiring discount or bonus

Here is one example from Tai Lopez (notice how this was a time limited “1 day left” ad/offer - and he still spent roughly $38k (estimated) on it)


Bottom of Funnel: Product Reminder Videos

When someone already knows, likes and trusts you - and better yet, if they’ve already bought something else from you…

...Sometimes all you need is to show them a product.

Here’s a great example of this from Filippo Loreti. (Note: Don’t be fooled by the small spend on this ad. This is likely targeted to only people at a very deep phase of awareness, where each view can really have an impact)


Additional Notes on Video Production

So now you know the content you need for each stage of your YouTube video ad funnel. Let’s cover a few technical points before we wrap this post and prepare for the next phase (actually setting up your campaigns & launching your ads).

“Modular” Hooks/Intros for Top of Funnel Videos

The first 30 seconds of a video ad is the most crucial. Give yourself as many chances as possible for success: script and shoot multiple intros that you can “bolt on” to the rest of the video. See which intro performs best. Test and iterate from there. (This is an approach that we learned from Shash Singh of Linx Digital. Thanks Shash for sharing this 🙂 )

Quick Editing Cuts

Human attention spans are decreasing. Cut out gaps, “ums” and “ah” filler words to make the edit as tight as possible.

Add in Offset Angle

If you have the budget (or even just an extra iphone), shoot both face-to-camera and 45 degree offset angles. Adding this offset angle keeps the viewer’s eye interested and also builds credibility by simulating an “interview”.

Here’s one example of this:


Speed up 10%

Test speeding up your video 10% to decrease viewer boredom and increase response.

Video Equipment

You don’t need a huge equipment budget to make successful YouTube video ads. But the following two items can be very helpful for creating high-quality video ads on a budget:

  • Gimbal - add a gimbal to your smartphone to keep your walking shots smooth and professional
  • Bluetooth Mic - audio quality is actually very important. Enhance your audio with a bluetooth mic that connects to your smartphone.

How to “Spy” on Your Competitors’ YouTube Ads

Want access to the YouTube ad research & spy tool we built?

In managing over $1 million USD per month in YouTube adspend, our team has seen how video creative is the single biggest factor in whether or not you succeed (or fail) with YouTube ads.

So we could help our clients have as much success as possible, we built - from scratch - an internal tool that allows us to track ads from competitors and see what YouTube ads are working right now.

Why? Because when it comes to YouTube ads, the last thing you want to do is guess.

Instead, the smart approach is to start by modeling what’s already working in your market and iterate from there.

And after you have had some success by imitating?

Become a breakthrough advertiser in your market by combining elements of videos that are working in other markets, so that your company becomes the one everyone else is trying to imitate in your market.

This is what our VidTao YouTube ad research and "spy" tool software allows you to do. And because we want YOU to be as successful with YouTube ads as possible, we want to give you full access, 100% free.

(No hidden “gotchas” or anything - it’s 100% free for you to use, with full functionality)

Go here to get your free, full access to the software.

(When you join for free you’ll also get our regular email updates sharing ad breakdowns, new YouTube strategies and tactics, and much more…)

Next Steps… How to Set Up, Launch, & SCALE Your YouTube Ads

Ok, this post is getting a bit long, so we’re going to break it up.

Here in Part 1 we’ve covered:

  • Why you need to be on YouTube for 2020 (and beyond)
  • How to find your audience - and enter the conversation that’s already going on in their head about their challenges / hopes / fears / dreams…
  • And how to script & create video ad creatives that
    • Get attention...
    • Get viewers to know/like/trust you…
    • And get results

In the next post, Part 2 of VidTao’s 2020 Guide to YouTube Ads, we’re going to cover all the nitty gritty technical details of how to:

  • How to research & reveal the best audiences to target
  • How to set up your campaigns
  • And how to launch, optimize, and scale it all

Including a detailed case study of how our team took a brand that...

  • Had been banned from Facebook (sound familiar?)
  • Had zero advertising history on YouTube

...And scaled adspend profitably to $9,756 in daily adspend, in less than 6 weeks.

>> Go here to read Part 2 <<

Want to get an update when new posts goes live? Go here to get an email when the latest post goes live

(You’ll also get free access to our VidTao YouTube ad research library / spy tool, as well as regular email updates sharing ad breakdowns, new YouTube strategies and tactics, and much more…)

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Are you spending over $1k/day on ads and looking to scale your business with YouTube ads?

Schedule your free YouTube ad brainstorming call here:


What are your YouTube ad questions?

In the meantime, what questions do YOU have about YouTube ads?

Let us know in the Comments section below, and we’ll make sure to cover your question in an upcoming post.

Have a nice day!

The VidTao Team

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  • WHOA! Dude!
    This is absolutely Fantastic!
    You will help SO Many people get
    started with their YouTube Ads & Crush it
    as a result of reading your research.