As the marketing world finalizes holiday planning for 2021, we wanted to share some best practices to help bring your YouTube campaigns to the next level. Whether you’re executing campaigns yourself, or working with a third party partner, it’s important to understand how you can avoid common mistakes and pitfalls when running YouTube campaigns.

Here are 5 quick tips for running YouTube campaigns this holiday season:

1. Go Beyond Contextual Targeting

Contextual targeting is an important tactic in any marketer’s video strategy, but it shouldn’t be the only one. But we often see advertisers overly rely on contextual targeting, especially around the holidays. Data from our latest study, developed in collaboration with GARM, actually shows that limiting video campaigns by vertical had the unintended effect of reducing scale and hurting performance. Alternatively, a smarter approach to suitability empowers marketers to reach their audience where they’re watching the content they love, while driving scale, performance, and efficiency.

2. Learn How To Navigate Made for Kids Content

Using Google’s tools can help advertisers avoid appearing against content that’s made for kids on YouTube. But it’s up to creators to identify their content as made for children when they upload to YouTube. Unfortunately, creators don’t always tag kids’ content correctly. So if it’s critical to avoid advertising against kid’s content — say, for an alcohol brand — consider working with a third party for a more rigorous approach to blocking children’s content.

3. Avoid Overly Broad Keyword Blocking

Many advertisers go overboard with keyword blocking, unintentionally limiting their strategy. For example, blocking the keyword “shot” would prevent ads from appearing against 736 videos on ESPN’s YouTube channel. Marketers should develop their keyword exclusions carefully to make sure they’re not blocking high-quality content where their audience is watching.

4. Learn How Content Can Be Safe But Not Suitable

When marketers are exclusively focused on brand safety, but not suitability, they can still land in hot water. For example, a vegan recipe video may be perfectly safe, but wouldn’t necessarily make sense for a meat producer or fast food restaurant. Marketers should develop a smarter strategy and go beyond simply making sure content is brand-safe, but also is a good fit for their brand.

5. Understand How To Drive Actions On YouTube

Holiday campaigns are all about driving actions and conversions. But there are big changes underway at YouTube, as TrueView for Action ads are being retired in favor of Video Action campaigns.

If you have any questions about these 5 strategies, we’d be happy to answer them or walk you through things that have worked for other YouTube advertisers during the holidays. Feel free to reach out to us at!