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YouTube search: Use negatives & the search query function

Wes Flippo
Wes Flippo
3 min read
23 February 2015

YouTube advertising is fast becoming a popular channel amongst digital marketers. It can be great for brand exposure and CPV’s are generally under $.50 (typically much lower). While In-Display and In-Stream avenues are a great option for garnering an audience similar to how image ads in the GDN function, YouTube Search can offer up a similar experience as Google Search does.

YouTube search typically provides better performance than In-Display & In-Stream counterparts, yet there is a crucial tool that many accounts I’ve seen don’t utilize. Negatives! A lot of people don’t know this, but you can apply negative keywords at a campaign level and targeting group level to YouTube search campaigns.

To find this tool, click into the YouTube Search campaign you want to apply negative keywords to, click into the targets tab, then click into the Keywords tab under targeting. From there, scroll down until you see ‘negative targets’ with a + symbol next to it. Once there it should be fairly easy to add in the kind of keywords you want to exclude targeting for.

Now adding in negative keywords is all well and good, but how do you know which keywords to neg out? You could mirror some of your search campaign negatives, but is that really the best way to go about it? Probably not considering your audience is most likely looking for different material. Lucky for you, it just so happens there’s a search query function in YouTube for AdWords just dying to supply you with terms you may not want your video showing up for.

To see these YouTube search queries, just click into Keywords under targeting, then click on YouTube search keywords under ‘Where your ads were shown”. You’ll then be shown a downloadable list of queries. This is extremely insightful for all the ways that search queries are useful in Google search.

So now you know how to utilize negative keywords and the search query function, go forth, and optimize your YouTube search campaign to its full potential.

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