How to Perfect Targeting with Contextual YouTube Video Ads

In an industry where change is the only constant, one strategy has remained in place: contextual targeting. Why? Because reaching people during moments of intention can be incredibly powerful. Add to that ever-changing industry regulations, and contextual targeting becomes more than just a better return on investment, but can also make life a little easier for marketers.

That’s why I’m so optimistic about contextual strategies. Contextual advertising, when executed appropriately, has shown results that can far exceed audience-based buying, and it’s ripe for reconsideration. But, of course, it all starts with having the right tools in your marketing toolkit to identify the most effective videos to place your ad against.

One of the biggest challenges in contextual advertising has always been having enough granular signals to really identify, understand, and separate appropriate videos from inappropriate videos. Nobody wants their contextual advertising campaigns to appear alongside mislabeled segments, misaligned audiences, or inappropriate content, which can lead to negative ROI or, worse, reputational damage.

The easiest way to solve this problem has always been to implement channel- or segment-level blocks in content, but blocking entire swaths of the offer can have equally negative effects on your campaigns. Unfortunately, the tools that exist today for marketers to properly manage context may lack certain capabilities to manage it effectively. For example, how can you use technology to identify inappropriate videos from a segment or channel and block them while continuing to deliver desirable content from that same segment or channel? The answer is control at the individual video level.

Video ID check

Consider a news channel on YouTube. You may not want your ads to appear next to topics such as war, famine, pestilence, and death (to name a few). But you also don’t want to block an entire channel because only part of its content can include these topics.

Or let’s say you sell sports equipment and want to target popular sports and entertainment influencers, but a few individual videos from your chosen influencers use overly salty language that violates your brand guidelines. What are you doing? Completely block channels? If you do this, you lose potentially valuable eyeballs and miss out on other highly sought-after, brand-safe content on those channels.

We also all know of specific creators who are massively popular but sometimes produce objectionable content. The traditional approach to avoiding this content would be to block the creator’s entire channel, but if you can access the specific video ID, you can still run the appropriate and safe videos while eliminating the broadcast of the rest. The aforementioned “brutal blocking tactics,” which have been logistically necessary for some campaigns, may be overkill.

It’s actually not much different from running a search campaign, where you have the syntax and keywords that make sense for a brand. Just like that, we can slice and dice hundreds of thousands of videos that make sense instead of aggregating channels and creators that might not.

Next generation contextual intelligence

When we launched GP’s next-gen contextual intelligence platform, we built it with video ID-level controls, for YouTube, in mind, as opposed to using a more general signal for the channel ID. This provides marketers with tools to take a more surgical approach to targeting and blocking strategies. I am happy to say that the results have been encouraging.

We ran a three-month marketing campaign on YouTube on behalf of a beauty brand partner using our video identification checks and A/B testing against the traditional affinity targeting tools available to them. Ads placed specifically on well-tagged videos outperformed traditional affinity methods by three and a half times when measuring user engagement. Additionally, the average number of pageviews on the brand’s website increased more than 12 times and saw a 9% lower bounce rate.

GP also provided a large majority of budget on contextually relevant categories compared to when the campaign was targeted to affinity segments available natively.


This A/B test also showed us that without GP’s video ID controls, only 15% of ads were served on aligned content compared to enabling GP’s tools, and our client achieved 95% broadcast on aligned content (beauty/skincare). .


Key takeaways are the increased user engagement metrics, as well as the quality/brand appropriateness and relevant nature of videos delivered by media outlets.

Cut the noise

Targeting at the Video ID level can also be beneficial for any online video campaign, whether it’s YouTube, CTV/OTT and/or other walled gardens. Our goal has been to streamline the process for marketers, making it easy for them to cut through the noise, target what’s needed, and block out the rest. All this to increase their ability to deliver against increasingly challenging KPIs.

Marketers are also keen to have contextual targeting solutions that are entirely cookie-free (which will probably, maybe… go away at some point…), and which can avoid cumbersome and evolving regulations around user targeting. So, in addition to benefiting from more impactful and measurable results from your target audience, contextual targeting provides an elegant strategy to protect you not only from existing industry challenges, but also to protect you from anything that might be introduced into user targeting, privacy or anything else. come.

Which we know it will, so better get ahead of the game now.

Click here to learn more about the benefits of contextual targeting at the Video ID level.

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