July 24, 2023

How to Boost Conversions with YouTube Retargeting

Learn how to use YouTube for retargeting and increase conversions. Discover the unique benefits and strategies for retargeting on this popular platform.

YouTube has become a popular platform for discovering new brands and products, especially with 90% of people using it for that very purpose. But while many companies advertise on YouTube to acquire new customers, they often hit a roadblock as it doesn't always lead to immediate sales. In fact, research indicates that a staggering 97% of visitors leave a website without making any purchase on their first visit.

So how do you prevent these potential customers from falling through the cracks despite their initial interest? This is where YouTube retargeting comes in.

How Does YouTube Retargeting Work?

While the concept of retargeting may seem highly technical and complex, the idea behind it is actually quite straightforward. It simply provides a means for reconnecting with individuals who have already demonstrated interest in your products or services. Reaching out to these visitors helps remind them why they were on your website and encourages them to take the next step toward conversion.

And the fact that people consume over a billion hours of content on YouTube every day makes this video-sharing platform ideal for running a successful retargeting campaign. While YouTube shares similarities with other forms of retargeting ads, such as display or social, its focus on video content can be particularly effective at converting sales. This is due to the additional information and narrative that can be presented through the video format, which can capture viewers' attention and pique their interest.

Viewers who engage with your videos receive a unique data identifier, or cookie, that stores information about their interaction. This cookie is later used to match the viewer with ads that are relevant to their interests. You can also target specific users based on their interests and customize ad formats for different topics, products, and more.

How to Create a YouTube Retargeting Campaign

Setting up a YouTube retargeting campaign isn't that difficult. It is actually a pretty straightforward process that starts with having an active YouTube channel and Google Ads account. If you haven't got those started yet, no worries. You can easily set them up. Once you've got those in place, you are ready to start your retargeting journey.

Step 1: Create Video Ads Highlighting Your Channel's Content

Creating video ads to promote your YouTube channel's content is a great way to attract new viewers and grow your subscriber base. But make sure your content is fresh and compelling. You don't want to show the same ad repeatedly for too long, as viewers may get annoyed and give you a thumbs-down.

Create at least three videos highlighting different aspects of your channel's content to keep things interesting. For example, if your channel offers how-to tips, interviews, and humor, create a video ad showcasing each category.

While you are at it, make sure to avoid being too pushy or salesy. Instead, focus on making a promise to your viewers about what they can expect from your channel. This could be anything from providing helpful advice to sharing funny stories.

Finally, remember to ask viewers to subscribe to your channel at the end of the video so they can stay updated with your latest content. The subscription end screen should feature your channel's avatar and a call-to-action prompting viewers to click and subscribe.

Step 2: Link Your YouTube and Google Ads Accounts

First things first, you need to link your Google Ads account to your YouTube channel for this to work. And here's how you do it:

1. Go to your YouTube Studio dashboard.

2. Open your advanced channel settings.

3. Click the "Link Account" button.

4. Input your Google Ads information. When asked for the Google Ads customer ID, enter the 10-digit number found at the top of your Google Ads dashboard.

5. Approve the verification request sent to your Google Ads account and confirm that your accounts are linked.

6. Once confirmed, you are ready to go.

Step 3: Create Your Retargeting Lists

Next off, you will need to define your target audience. That means setting up your YouTube retargeting lists. This will help you direct your ads to those who have previously engaged with your channel but failed to convert. To create your YouTube retargeting list, you will need to do the following:

1. Click the tools icon.

2. Go to the audience manager.

3. Name your audience.

4. Select which users you want to add to your retargeting audience from the "List Members" drop-down menu. Choose "Viewed Any Video From a Channel" for the first video in your retargeting campaign.

5. If you have multiple YouTube channels, choose the one you want to run your remarketing campaign from.

6. For the initial list size, choose "Include People from the Past 120 Days."

7. Navigate to membership duration and set the "Membership Duration" for no more than 30 days. Remember to change your video every 2-4 weeks.

8. Finally, click "Create" for your new audience to appear in your Remarketing Audience Lists.

9. Set an audience to either "Open" or "Closed." The audience is set to Open by default. You will want to keep it that way, as this automatically adds viewers to your audience list after viewing one of your videos. Closed, on the other hand, means no more members will be added to the list.

Step 4: Create a Remarketing Ad Campaign

Once you have successfully created your retargeting video and set up your audience lists, you need to combine them to create your final ad campaign. We recommend setting your frequency cap to once a day up to a maximum of five days per week. This will prevent you from bombarding your audience with ads.

Adding your retargeting ads to a new ad group within your campaign will let you track the performance of your ads based on keywords, placements, or other targeting options. Follow these steps to add your retargeting list to your ad campaign.

1. Open the campaign and create a new ad group by clicking the blue "+" sign.

2. Give your ad group a name.

3. Open the "Audiences" option and choose "Remarketing."

4. Select an audience from the list.

5. Input the details for your retargeting ad at the bottom of the ad group.

6. Paste the YouTube video link you want your audience to see.

Take note that if you are targeting three different audiences, you will need to create a new ad group for each audience.

Step 5: Track Your Remarketing Ads' Performance in Google Ads

Once your retargeting campaign is up and running, all that is left to do is monitor your campaign's performance in Google Ads. Selecting some targeted KPIs can help you effectively determine how well your campaign is doing. Some metrics you may want to check out include clicks, impressions, click-through rate (CTR), cost per click (COC), cost per thousand impressions (CPM), cost per acquisition (CPA), view-through conversion (VTC) and click-through conversion (CTC).

Here's what you need to do to track your retargeting campaign:

1. Click "All Campaigns" found on the upper left side of the dashboard.

2. Choose "Videos" to see an overview of your video campaigns' performance.

3. If you want to customize these metrics to only show what you want to see, click the "Modify Columns" button.

4. You will be shown three categories: Performance, Conversions, and YouTube Earned Actions. Click the arrows beside each category to see the available metrics. You can drag and drop columns if you want them to appear in a certain order.

5. Tick the "Save Your Column Set" checkbox to see your selections in the overview.

6. Click "Apply" when you are done with the changes.

Best Practices for YouTube Retargeting

YouTube is the go-to platform for many marketers, especially for running retargeting ads. And it is no wonder why: with its massive user base and robust ad targeting capabilities, YouTube offers a wealth of opportunities to reach your target audience. But simply putting up an ad on YouTube won't automatically lead to success. Follow these best practices to make the most out of your marketing efforts.

Mind your Retargeting Frequency

Running a successful YouTube retargeting ad campaign means learning how and when to limit your ad frequency. Overexposure can lead to viewer annoyance and ultimately hurt your campaign's effectiveness, as well as increase your advertising costs as you pay per each view on YouTube. To maximize your return on ad spend (ROAS), set an optimal frequency that is appropriate for the product or service you're advertising.

For products that require more consideration before purchase, such as expensive gadgets or luxury items, a higher frequency over a longer period of time may be appropriate. Conversely, products that require a quick decision, such as discounted clothing or takeout food, may require only a few impressions to drive conversions. Starting with three impressions per day for 30 days is a good baseline, but make sure to monitor performance and adjust the frequency as needed.

Consider Retargeting Your Email Subscribers

Retargeting email subscribers can be an effective strategy to improve your YouTube marketing campaign. By targeting people who have already engaged with your brand through their email subscription, you can increase the likelihood of them converting into customers. Creating custom audiences using their email addresses allows you to display personalized ads to these individuals while they are watching videos on YouTube. This helps remind them of your brand and the products or services you offer.

This can also help you create a more consistent marketing strategy across different channels. Integrating your email list into your YouTube ad campaign can reinforce your messaging and increase brand recall, leading to higher engagement and conversion rates.

However, it is important to note that not all email lists are created equal. To make the most of this tactic, you need to carefully segment your email lists based on factors like past purchasing behavior, subscriber engagement, and demographics.

Use of Skippable Ads

When it comes to YouTube ads, there are several options at your disposal. However, the two primary choices are skippable and non-skippable ads. Skippable ads, being the more affordable option, make them a practical choice for your initial retargeting campaign. The skippable variant enables you to identify your target audience and refine your advertising strategy, ensuring you are reaching the right audience. Non-skippable ads, on the other hand, can be used once you have a better understanding of your audience.

Monitoring your ads is critical to your success on YouTube. Keeping a watchful eye on how people interact with your ads can tell you a lot about their effectiveness. If you notice a change in how many users are skipping your ad, that should tell how well-received it is. You can use this data to create more effective ads, which, in turn, can improve your overall advertising strategy. As you achieve a reasonable engagement rate, you can shift your efforts to non-skippable ads or scale up your campaign.

Use Different Ad Formats

To stay relevant in the world of digital advertising, you need to keep up with the times and adapt to new trends. One way to do this is by using a variety of ad formats to reach your target audience on different devices and platforms. Think of it as casting a wider net. The more formats you use, the more chances you have of catching potential customers.

One format that is gaining popularity is vertical video, thanks to the rise of YouTube Shorts. Using this ad format can help you stand out, as more people watch in portrait mode. But it isn't the only one to consider. There are many different ad formats to choose from, such as out-stream ads, masthead ads, and bumper ads. While they may not have the same impact as skippable ads, they can still help increase brand recognition, especially if you are running other video ads at the same time.

Experimenting and trying out different formats to see what works best for your audience will help you optimize your advertising strategy. So, don't be afraid to mix things up and keep an eye on emerging trends. That is how you stay ahead of the game.

Make it Mobile-Friendly

People nowadays are always on the go, so you see them on their phones all the time. That just means that optimizing for mobile viewing is more important than ever. Videos should be easily viewable on smaller screens without losing quality, and text should be legible. It is also essential to consider that 83% of mobile viewers watch videos on their phones with the sound off. That is why including closed captioning is a must to help viewers understand the content even without hearing it.

Customize Your Retargeting Ads

Retargeting campaigns are effective only when they target the right people. Customization is key to creating a successful campaign. By retargeting individuals who have already shown an interest in your brand, you can increase conversions and ROI. One of the most effective ways to do this is by customizing your retargeting lists. For instance, you can create different lists based on how a user previously interacted with your website, such as abandoned carts, website visitors, or regular customers.

Create Both In-Stream and In-Display Ads

In-stream and in-display ads are the two types of advertisements that can be used for retargeting on YouTube. In-stream ads are great for delivering a quick message or call-to-action, while in-display ads are better suited for long-term branding or building brand awareness. Mobilizing both ad types will help you reach and engage with more of your audience.

Analyze View Percentage

View percentage is an essential metric for analyzing the quality and effectiveness of your video content. YouTube allows you to see the percentage of people who viewed 25%, 50%, 75%, or the whole video. If you find that the view percentage is low, it is crucial to identify the reasons why. You can either create new versions of your ad or experiment with moving the call-to-action early. This can help you get higher conversions.

Benefits of Retargeting

Retargeting is a simple but powerful marketing concept. Obviously, its main purpose is to help increase sales, but it is so much more than that. Let's look at more reasons why you should consider this type of ad campaign.

Heightens Brand Recognition

Retargeting is not just about increasing sales. It can also help increase brand recognition. Even first-time visitors can be nurtured by retargeting. You can catch their attention by offering them what they like, such as a free ebook or video training that provides value. This also helps them understand what you have to offer. By nurturing them with valuable information, they will remember your brand when they are ready to make a purchase.

Shortens the Time Prospects Move Through Your Funnel

A marketing funnel is more complex than you realize. Every prospect's journey is unique, and before a person considers buying, they may check out other options, read reviews, or may completely forget about you. Retargeting can help you create personalized content based on their journey through your sales funnel. By showing them personalized content, they will be able to take the next step in less time. This can help expedite your prospect's movement through your funnel, making them more likely to convert into paying customers.

Gain Insights

Your current and previous retargeting campaigns will give you insights into where to find your prospects after they leave your site. This will help you create a blueprint to help you decide how you want to go about your future marketing efforts. Armed with enough data from your analytics, you can optimize your retargeting campaigns to reach your target audience more effectively and efficiently.

Reach Interested Prospects

Retargeting helps you avoid shooting ads all over the web. This way, you are displaying ads solely to people who have expressed their interest in your business. These are people who have already visited your website or watched your YouTube videos. By targeting them, you can increase your chances of converting them into customers. In fact, retargeted customers are three times more likely to engage with your ad compared to those who have not previously interacted with your business.


Retargeting is a smart marketing strategy that can save you not just time but also money. By focusing your efforts on retargeted customers, you can lower your cost per acquisition (CPA) and increase conversions. This approach avoids spending money on individuals who may not be interested in your brand. Plus, you are more likely to convert viewers who have previously engaged with your brand into loyal customers.

How Much Does YouTube Retargeting Cost?

YouTube retargeting is a highly effective marketing strategy. However, like any advertising method, it comes with a cost. The price of YouTube retargeting can vary depending on several factors, such as your budget, ad placement, audience size, and bid strategy. The average payment per view typically falls between $0.05 and $0.30. Of course, you can expect clicks to be more expensive because they are more valuable than simple impressions.

While clicks are more valuable, you can control your ad spend by carefully selecting your audience. Targeting people who visited your site within the past 540 days is likely to be less expensive than targeting those who visited within the past month. This is because larger audience sizes usually result in lower costs.

But lower costs don't always guarantee better value. Someone who visited your website a year ago might be less valuable than someone who stopped by just a couple of weeks ago. That is why it is essential to strike a balance between the cost and value of retargeting by aiming the right message at the right audience at the right moment.

Of course, the cost is an essential factor, but so is the worth of your advertisement. Users tend to value ads that educate or entertain them more, positively impacting their purchase intentions. So it is critical to create ads that assist or entertain users. While developing high-value ads might require a higher initial investment, it is more likely to result in long-term revenue.


Using YouTube for retargeting is a valuable strategy to promote your brand and increase sales. By utilizing the unique aspects of YouTube, such as engaging video content and personalized targeting, you can create effective remarketing campaigns that bring users back to your sales funnel. With the ability to showcase products and services through a variety of content formats, YouTube provides ample opportunities for you to engage with users and build brand awareness. But take note that as YouTube continues to evolve as a marketing platform, businesses need to stay up to date with the latest remarketing strategies and techniques to make the most of their advertising efforts.

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