How YouTube can help your non-video campaigns in Google Ads

Here's how you can boost campaigns with video in lightbox ads, display, universal apps and more.

Chat with SearchBot

I’ve worked with many clients on YouTube campaigns and understand the time and effort it takes to create an effective video ad. We work hard to create custom videos that speak to different audiences depending on where they might be in the buyer funnel or maybe beyond. Yes we use these videos to run effective and affordable video campaigns in Google Ads, but we can also use them in a lot more ad formats on Google Ads. Let’s run through other ways you can utilize your video ads beyond YouTube to squeeze out as much value from the platform as possible. 

Display network campaigns

One of the biggest benefits of running YouTube ads is the reach we get to drive awareness. Besides video campaigns, we can utilize our videos in various ways on the display network too. Here are some ways you can utilize your current video content on YouTube to enhance the display campaigns you may already be running. 

Lightbox ads

When creating a display campaign with the goal of “product and brand consideration,” you can create custom lightbox ads which are actually pretty fun to build. You can customize these lightbox ads with a variety of elements such as images, a retail feed from your merchant center, messages, call-to-action buttons, stylization and of course videos. 


With a lightbox ad, you pay on a CPE (cost-per-engagement) bidding strategy. When the ad is visible to the user, they will only see a thumbnail image. The user has to hover their mouse over the ad for a couple of seconds to see the content on the inside. Once the ad opens, then the advertiser will be charged. Any actions that user takes after they are engaging with your ad are free. In addition to images, having a user engage with my videos and sending them back to my website to me is a more qualified user. They didn’t accidentally click on my display ad. They hovered over it, explored the ad, possibly watched my video content, then clicked to my website. I’d rather remarket to an engaged user first over a page visit audience, and videos can help keep users engaged.  

Responsive display ads

If you don’t upload your own ads to your display network campaigns, you have to create a responsive display ad. Besides being the default display option, these ads are also utilized in the smart display campaigns. Depending on what assets you upload to the ad, Google will use machine learning to deliver what it considers to be the best combination of assets based on previous performance history.

Some of the benefits Google claims on their support page for responsive display ads include saving time creating ads, the ability to use responsive display ads for dynamic remarketing and expanding your reach on the display network when you add video. 


When creating a responsive display ad, you must add at least one landscape image and one square image. Videos are optional, but recommended. Advertisers can add up to five videos to test. And just like any other asset in a responsive display ad, you will be able to review asset performance and combinations whenever videos are part of the ad. 


When creating an ad for your Gmail campaign, you must select at least one image or one video asset to add to the ad (besides a logo image). If you want, you can just add a video and not use any images at all. And of course, this video must be from YouTube.

Image3 1

Now you might be thinking, “Wait a minute. Are you using multiple videos in your Gmail ad.” Why yes. Yes, I am. You can add up to seven YouTube videos to your Gmail ad if you choose. Depending on the goal of your campaigns, and depending on what video assets you have on your YouTube channel, you can add a variety of videos to engage the user. Your video links will go straight to the video watch page (unless it’s the headline asset) so make sure your end screens are in place to keep the user engaged beyond the view. 

Universal app campaigns

And going along with the trend of what you have been reading so far, yes we can add YouTube videos to your ads promoting your apps. Just like the examples we have seen so far, adding videos is an optional element. But even though videos are optional, you must know the fine print of utilizing video in this ad. Google states the following in the app ad creation process:

“If you leave this field blank, Google Ads may make a video for you.”

Google can do this by taking any images you add as well as text. So if you don’t want Google to take more control, have a video asset ready that complements your app.

Image2 1

And if you think that adding seven videos to an ad sounds fun, you’ll want to start running some universal app ads immediately. We can add up to twenty videos to our app ads. Yes. Twenty! Why would you want so many videos for one ad? Once again Google explains.

“If you enter a YouTube video, Google Ads will also create video ads for you using the video you enter.

So in this case, the more videos you add, the more video ad varieties you could have to showcase your app. This is one situation where we can embrace the variety. The more videos you have the better chance you have of not annoying users with the same video ad over and over. 

Search network campaigns

Match types keep changing. There’s nothing we can do about it. While keywords are still important, there is a clear focus shift to audiences. Understanding user actions and behavior can be a great asset in understanding what your users are actually looking to do. Page visit audiences can still work. I still use them on my accounts. But to me, someone who engages with my videos or watches multiple videos on my YouTube channel is a more valuable target. In the audience manager tool in Google Ads, we can already create a variety of audiences from our video campaigns.

Image1 1

I like to use these audiences in two main ways. 

  1. Target these users separately in RLSA campaigns. Users who have already watched a video, liked or commented on a video, etc. are already familiar with your brand. If you have a large enough audience from video views you can speak to these users differently. Especially if they are part of several of the YouTube users audience. 
  2. Make bid adjustments on these audiences. In many of my accounts in the past users who have seen my video (organically or as an ad) and then come back and search for my brand name, convert at a higher rate. I prefer to bid higher on my YouTube users audiences to make sure they get the most exposure as possible if users are coming back and converting. That being said, I add YouTube user audiences as optimization audiences to every single one of my campaigns if they’re not being used for targeting Only RLSA in any way. Even if I prefer not to adjust my bids, I can still see how my YouTube performance may be impacting paid search traffic. While this doesn’t show you full search impact, especially since we can’t see impact via other channels, we at least get some proof on the value of YouTube besides direct conversions. 

YouTube is more valuable than you think

Hopefully, you see how YouTube can help more than just your video campaigns. Whether you are looking for new ads to test or ways to boost your current campaigns, the answer could already be sitting in your accounts. Start testing out YouTube ads in your other campaigns and see how performance can change. 

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Joe Martinez
Joe Martinez is the Director of Client Strategy for Clix Marketing. While he is hands-on in all aspects of PPC, his true passions lie in Display, Remarketing, and YouTube. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, MarTech, and WordStream. He has also written for PPC Hero, SEMrush, Unbounce, Leadpages, Optmyzr, and AdStage. He has hosted webinars for SEMrush, Unbounce, Quora and Bing Ads. He regularly speaks at conferences such as SMX Advanced, SMX West, SMX East, HeroConf, Confluence Conference, Digital Olympus and more. Finally, he was named a Top 25 Influential PPC Expert by PPC Hero in 2017 and 2018.

Get the must-read newsletter for search marketers.