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Should You Pay for YouTube Ads to Promote Your Channel?

One of the latest additions to the YouTube Creator Studio is the Promotions tab. It’s a tool that lets channel owners create ads to promote themselves. But should you dump the money into YouTube ads to have your channel featured on the platform?

After all, it could result in boosting subscriber numbers. However, it’s not exactly the best platform when trying to acquire watch time. And that’s what most small channels have the biggest problem achieving.

It’s much easier to get that 1,000 subscriber count than the 4,000 hours of watch time needed for the YouTube Partner Program.

Benefits of Using YouTube Ads

Giving creators a quick and easy access port for ads could have quite a few benefits. That is as long as your channel already generates a decent amount of income.

Instead of relying on external marketing, such as sharing on social media, you can get in front of your target audience quicker.

Getting the Channel Seen More Often

Perhaps the most important benefit of ads is to get the channel or video seen by more people in less time. Currently, you’re content needs to either be highly searchable due to SEO, be binge-worthy, or otherwise attract an audience.

Ads will only help you reach even more people who might like your content and who haven’t seen your channel yet.

Easier to Set Up than Before

If you’ve ever had to deal with the Ads Manager platform, it’s a bit of a pain to set things up. I mean, it’s not overly difficult, but it can be streamlined here and there.

Having the tab built into your channel’s dashboard gives you quick and easy access to create ads on the fly.

This could be quite a time saver, depending on how YouTube creates the layout from the Creator Studio. Never underestimate how good ideas can have a terrible design.

Affordable Way to Advertise

Bidding on ad space is a bit of a pain. First, you need to increase the bid to a logical amount that will give you the greatest bang for your buck. Then, you’ll need to establish a daily budget.

Although these types of ads can be a bit difficult to perfect, they are often the most affordable methods for many. It all comes down to how much you want to spend per ad click or display and what you want to spend every day.

In the past, I’ve had some incredible experiences with Google Ads, so I am assuming YouTube will have a similar method in place.

Drawbacks of Using YouTube Ads

Who wouldn’t want to spend a few bucks to generate more subscribers and watch time? But is it really conducive to your success on YouTube?

In reality, the Promotions tab is probably not ideal for most channels. Especially those that already have a hard time keeping watch time up.

ROI is Going to Be Terrible for Smaller Channels

Unless you’re pulling in some awesome numbers, to begin with, the return on investment for smaller channels is going to be pitiful. While it might help improve subscriber numbers and watch time, the chances the ad will pay for itself are slim.

It would be like paying $10 to get a return of $4…and that depends greatly on the RPM of your niche as well as anything else you’re trying to sell.

Doesn’t Guarantee Watch Time

The most important thing to realize is that YouTube ads don’t guarantee to boost watch time. You could see a small spike in subscriber growth. But if they don’t continue to enjoy your channel, they won’t watch.

Think of it like trying to sell hot coffee on the equator. Sure, it may be OK for some folk. But the majority of people in hotter climates want cooler drinks.

Are you providing the “drinks” the audience wants to consume on a regular basis? If not, then you probably won’t see much of a boost to watch time.

Who Benefits Most from YouTube Ads?

Assuming that future implementations of the Promotions tab uses the same AdSense schema that has been around for many years, it’s an effective form of marketing.

This is because you can pay per click of the ad or pay per impression. Most tend to go with PPC simply because you’re technically not charged until someone clicks the ad.

So, who winds up benefiting most from YouTube ads in general?

Channels Already In the YPP

Currently, you already need to be in the YouTube Partner Program to even see the Promotion tab. But YouTube ads aren’t going to work the same for everyone across the board.

A lot of creators also promote various merch, Patreon memberships, and sponsored videos. In these cases, running an advertisement might help increase income.

However, channels that purely rely on AdSense income might have a harder time making up that investment. As I said, it mostly comes down to your channel’s RPM (income per 1000 views).

If you have a low RPM and spend more than you make on YouTube ads, you’ll run out of cash relatively quickly.

Channels That Have Something to Sell

As I pointed out, channels that have other methods of income outside of AdSense might have a better ROI from ads. That is as long as you’re targeting the right audience who are likely to make a purchase from you.

For instance, you’ll have a harder time selling branded merch to an audience who has no idea you existed. It’s like trying to sell an autobiography of some obscure author that nobody knows.

On the other hand, promoting other goods, services, and sponsors may prove fruitful as long as you’re able to sell them well.

When the Income is Worth the Expense

The entire purpose of an advertisement is to generate more income than you spend. If you’re tossing money into YouTube ads without making additional revenue, then it just becomes an expensive hobby.

You would want to use ads if you can justify that the income is worth the expense. And that’s often difficult to do, especially for much smaller channels and new creators.

Unfortunately, income is never guaranteed as a creator. It may take a few months of hemorrhaging money before there is enough data to make an informed decision about your specific channel.

YouTube, Obviously…

Lastly, and perhaps the most obvious beneficiary, there is YouTube. Of course, they would implement a way for creators in the YPP to create ads. They would love nothing more than for creators to spend some of the money they’re paying out.

Then there are the small creators who will undoubtedly toss money at YouTube ads in the hope of building a more active channel. But as I said, if you’re not able to sustain your audience now, it’s unlikely you’ll sustain any that you gain from an advertisement.

My Thoughts on Promotional Ads

One of the statements from YouTube is how they listened to creators about wanting more tools to grow their channel. And one of the first ideas that popped into their heads was an ad system.

That, alone, should tell you all you need to know about YouTube’s upper management. Instead of actual tools to grow a channel and reach a wider audience, they defaulted to advertisement revenue.

And why not? It’s a system that’s worked for YouTube and Google for many years.

Advertisements will undoubtedly help a few channels grow and amass more of an audience. However, it’s a system that usually only benefits those who are already making a significant amount of money on the platform.

If YouTube truly wanted to help channels grow, it would adjust the algorithm to show videos from the smaller creators. Instead, a channel could get buried despite having an above-average click-through rate, average watch time percentage, and active comment sections.

Instead, we get another tool that will wind up costing some of us an incredible amount of money with very little long-term return.

I suppose I am being a bit unfair. After all, this is still a beta release and only to a select number of YouTubers. Who knows? Perhaps it’ll wind up being a great tool for smaller channels.

However, experience has taught me to be skeptical when it comes to YouTube promoting “growth” for channels.

Will You Ever Create YouTube Ads?

I’m sure I’ll try a few ads once the Promotion tab is readily available. If anything, it’ll provide a bit of content to show whether YouTube ads are worth the expense or not.

In any case, I highly doubt it will be something that I put a lot of money into. I lean more toward creating the best content I can and growing naturally.

Still, it would be interesting to test out the results.

How likely are you to create ads for your YouTube channel?

Michael Brockbank

Michael Brockbank

Michael has been managing YouTube channels for the better part of a decade. He's continuously working to find the best methods that work for various types of content from gaming to website tutorials.

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