Have you run YouTube ads for your nonprofit hoping to get people to donate but not getting the results you hoped for? In this blog post I’ll share with you a method we tried at year-end giving that produced stellar results for our client.


YouTube ads are great for generating awareness. For most of my campaigns we pay 5 cents or less for a view (a view is defined as having watched 30 seconds of your video or the entire video if less than 30 seconds in length). There are also earned views where someone clicks from your ad to another video on your channel and low and behold those are free. We received over 5,000 of these from a recent campaign. For those paid views we received over 30,000.

Clickable Links

When we have run YouTube ads for clients in the past, we pinned our hopes on adding a donate link to the video ad itself. This can be done through several methods including cards, call to action overlays and end screens. However we hardly saw any conversions.

When I look back it now it makes sense. The overwhelming number of people who view your video ad have never heard of you. Even if they are moved by your mission and want to help they are unlikely to act right away.

Remarketing to the Rescue

This time in addition to including links, we targeted them with remarketing banner ads that followed them around throughout the Google display network. If someone watched our video ad and visited CNN for example, they might see a banner ad asking them to donate to our client’s cause.

What were the results? See for yourself.


Remarketing Campaign Targeting Video Ad Viewers

A very impressive cost per conversion of a little under $19. Even if we combine the cost of both the video ad campaign and the remarketing campaign our cost per conversion is still only $65 and with awareness numbers that are off the charts as shown here.

YouTube video ad results

YouTube video ad results

Moving Forward

In the future we plan on using remarketing lists of various duration. For example, one would contain people who viewed the video ad within the last 5 days, another within 15 days and still another within 30 days. Doing this will allow us to determine how much effect the impact of the video has. If we find for example that the majority of folks who convert do so within five days of seeing the video ad, then we might put most of our remarketing spend towards that group which will lower the cost per conversion even further.

Have you tried YouTube remarketing as a tactic? Let me know.