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YouTube Shopping Ad Campaigns – Learn the Basics

Published: June 12, 2017

Author: Jenna Clark

An ecommerce client of mine recently launched YouTube campaigns with the goal of driving click-based conversions. YouTube is not the best for direct response, but we did not let that stop us from testing. Shopping Ads on YouTube make your videos interactive by connecting viewers to products they are watching in the ad.
While in the research phase of building out these campaigns, I found that a lot of information on shopping for YouTube was outdated and somewhat confusing. Below I have included a basic rundown on the types of shopping ads you will see on YouTube:

  1. Shopping Ads on YouTube
  2. TrueView for Shopping
  3. Channel Cards vs. Shopping Cards

To start, you need to know the difference between Shopping Ads on YouTube and TrueView for Shopping.

1. Shopping Ads on YouTube

Shopping Ads on YouTube show through search partners from AdWords shopping campaigns. Shopping Ads (or PLAs) that show on the Google network are also tied to YouTube if you have search partners enabled. As of right now, you cannot control where and when they show. There’s not much opportunity to test here, although it would be a good idea to check on search partner performance to make sure you’re not wasting spend. To get started, you need to have Shopping campaigns already set up, or you would need to start by creating a new one.

Once you create a campaign and link it to your Merchant Center (and also have search partners enabled), ads will begin to show up on YouTube. The format below is an example of Shopping Ads on YouTube.

2. TrueView for Shopping

TrueView for Shopping runs on in-stream ads in countries where Google Merchant Center is available.  Advertisers have control over which videos show and which products show within those videos. The feature is a great opportunity to test different videos and products.
To set up TrueView for Shopping, you would create a Video campaign and connect your Google Merchant Center feed to the TrueView campaign.

Once you select Video, you need to select Shopping as your Type:

Then you will be asked to type in your Merchant ID and to choose a product filter. If you have a video for one product in particular, you can choose that product to show. Once you do that, you need to fill out general settings.
Once that is complete, you will need to create an ad group and upload your video ad. Video ads are required because the products will be integrated to the video.
Below is an example of a TrueView for Shopping Ad. In the top left corner, you will find the video name, which you will want to optimize as much as possible about your product or service. This example is poor; it does not explain what the ad is trying to sell. On the right corner is an “i” icon or an icon that looks like a shopping tag; those both lead to Shopping Ads (otherwise known as Shopping Cards).

After you click on the “I” icon, Shopping Cards appear like this:

The products will be dynamically inserted through shopping cards within your in-stream ads. You can adjust what products you would like to import from your shopping feed based on the video they are linked to.

3. Channel Cards vs. Shopping Cards

Channel Cards and Shopping Cards are both features that can help showcase products within a YouTube channel. Channel cards look the same as Shopping Cards; the two defining factors are that Channel Cards are only allowed in your channel and there is no advertising involved. It is all organic.  Make sure to take advantage of this feature! Channel Cards look like this:

Shopping cards are the name for the shopping ads that appear in TrueView for Shopping Ads. They are the cards that pop up when a user clicks on an “i” icon on the ad. These help to encourage viewers to buy your products on videos that are not your own. See the Teddy example below:

To access Channel Cards or Shopping Cards, YouTube has a CTA pop up next to the “i” icon that helps inform views that products are shoppable right in the video. These are customizable and show up for only a few seconds during a video.

To recap:

  • Shopping Ads on YouTube are shown through search partners, and you have no control over where and when they show.
  • TrueView for Shopping is a video campaign with Shopping Cards linked your Merchant Center. An icon in the ad, if clicked, shows users products during in-stream videos ads. The ads show on videos across YouTube.
  • Channel Cards look the same as Shopping Cards, but they are not paid for and only show on your own channel.

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