Winning with YouTube video ads: What you need to know

By Matt Sellhorst

Have you ever watched a YouTube video while researching a major purchase? Video is one of the best tools for those early stages in the educational spectrum of a boat buyer. 

Now, what if you could show your video ad to those people watching videos that are likely in boat shopping mode? With more and more people doing their research online these days, video ads are a potential goldmine for those few that understand how to use them.

You can be one of them and it’s easier than you think. Because Google owns YouTube, the Google Ads platform also gives you access to show video ads to those folks watching YouTube videos.

The first step is to select the goal of your campaign. These options range from: leads, website traffic, brand consideration and brand awareness. This initial choice will impact which of the below ad formats you have access to. For a matrix of ad goals, networks and formats, email me at

Five main YouTube ad format options:

  • Skippable In-Stream Ads: These can be any video that can play before, during or after a targeted video. In this ad type, you are only charged if the user watches over a specific number of seconds before skipping.
  • Non-Skippable Video Ads: These are short 15-second ads that the viewer must watch in its entirety before getting to the content they are there to watch.
  • Bumper Ads: These are very short six-second ads that are designed for brand awareness and are not skippable.
  • Discovery Ads: These ads will show up in search results on the YouTube home page and are typically best for reaching those that are in a researching stage.
  • Masthead Ads: These ads display at the top of the page or home page and work to drive awareness with a mass audience.

Ad placement and targeting options:

  • Target by demographics: This allows you to target based on geography, household income, gender, age and marital status. 
  • Target by topic: The obvious topic is boats and watercraft, however that may be too broad of target segment if you only offer service or are marketing towards a certain type of boating segment.
  • Target by keywords: This function works similarly to the traditional Google search ads using keywords.
  • Targeting by audience: This function allows you to serve your video ad to those that Google has determined have various interests and/or are in the market for buying a boat or watercraft.
  • Target specific YouTube channels: You can select Discover Boating, Boat Buyer’s Secret Weapon, Boat Tube, other dealers or OEM channels.
  • Target specific YouTube videos: If you’re selling center consoles, you can select those videos geared towards center console buyers like “How to Buy a Center Console.

As with any good marketing plan, it’s important to know what you are looking to accomplish with your campaign. Once you decide the goal, consider the message, the market and the media. Videos in general, and YouTube specifically, have been proven to work in the marine industry, the key for your success is to nail down the message and the specific market and you will have a winning campaign.

Your challenge: Create a complete marketing plan with budget for a YouTube video ad. Consider what the result you are aiming for is; selling a specific boat, driving traffic to your website inventory page or driving leads to an event. Then, craft the video message and shoot the video. Finally, create the ad in YouTube, selecting the appropriate ad type, placement and targeting. When done properly, you’ve just tapped into an opportunity that many others are missing out on. 

Matt Sellhorst is the founder of Boat Dealer Profits Marketing Agency and author of the only business-building book for the retail boating industry, “Boat Dealer Profits; How the SPLASH System can help you sell more boats, make more money and have more fun.” Claim your free copy at

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