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October 10, 2022

9 Ways To Improve YouTube Ads CTR

CTR (click-through rate) in YouTube Ads is one of the foundational optimization metrics you should understand.  Whether you are running YouTube Ads as a business […]


October 10, 2022
9 ways to improve youtube ads ctr

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CTR (click-through rate) in YouTube Ads is one of the foundational optimization metrics you should understand. 

Whether you are running YouTube Ads as a business owner, or a marketing professional outsourcing your YouTube Ads to partners like Yugo Media, CTR is a valuable metric you should keep your eye on. 

Improving your YouTube Ads CTR will not only provide more ROAS it will ultimately feed more data back into the YouTube Ads algorithm, improve your bidding signals and overall bring your account more opportunities to scale successfully. 

Low CTRs are often the #1 reason why people think that YouTube Ads are not working. And actually, the poor performance of the Ad CTR affects the campaign, stifling it from actually ever doing what it should do. Perform. 

In this article, I will break down 9  straightforward ways to improve your YouTube Ads CTR and increase optin conversion rate and decrease your acquisition cost. Also as a note, if you haven’t yet reached out to us here at Yugo Media, go ahead a send us a line, we are always happy to discuss your paid media and how we can help accelerate your growth. 

Why does CTR matter in YouTube Ads?

The Click-through rate is a tricky metric and is used in all paid media platforms.

When analyzing CTR, high click-through improves your Quality Score and algorithm optimization, you’re also paying for every click, therefore more clicks mean more Ad spend. So getting CTR right takes understanding the different moving parts and how this can affect your overall campaign performance. Let’s dive into this a bit.

When a high click-through rate is good

A high click-through rate in YouTube Ads is good because it’s an indicator that your ad copy, value proposition and call to action are appealing to your audience and buyer persona.

But with the way YouTube Ads work, there is a deeper benefit. The Google Ads/YouTube Ads algorithm rewards higher quality ads with higher positions, better bidding signals and lower acquisition costs. Why? Simple put, YouTube doesn’t make money if no one clicks or views its ads, so it gives preference to the ads that are most likely to succeed and provide conversions.

And how is the quality of the Ad measured? The formula Google Ads uses is a bit elusive, to say the least, but from experience, I have come to know its 3 core components:

  • Relevance of the ad to the copy of the landing page.
  • The landing page user experience.
  • Your expected CTR.  (based on account average, industry and campaign experience)

And there it is. Expected CTR is how Google estimates the ad to perform, regardless of position and other factors, taking into account your past performance with that keyword (in the case you are using keywords to trigger your ads). As Google points out, you can score an average, above average, or below average expected CTR for each keyword.

This leads us to the conclusion that the higher your CTR, the higher your expected CTR, and the higher your Quality Score and the better your account performs. 

The better the account performs the more positive auction signals, more conversion data, and lower CPA, leading to increased ROAS. 

But it all starts with improved CTR. 

youtube ads ctr
Why YouTube Ads CTR Matters More Than You Think

So how do you get an above-average click-through rate? I will deal with that shortly. But first, a word of caution on high click-through rates.

When a high click-through rate is…not so good. This is where the on-page conversion rate (let’s say for example webinar registrations) has a direct relationship with CTR. 

If you have a high CTR (because you have a great Ad) but your landing page conversion rate is low, this leads to false positive signals for YouTube/Google Ads algorithm and can be exceptionally disruptive to an account's performance. 

Remember, this is pay-per-click or pay-per-view advertising, so you are paying for every click/interaction on your ad, and not every click on your ad is going to convert. So a high click-through rate is a bad thing if you have a low conversion rate on your page because you’re paying for clicks that aren’t going to result in a positive ROAS and feeding negative data back into the algorithm.

Youtube Ads CTR
High CTR with Low On-page Conversion Rate Leads To Reduced ROAS

So your goal is not to get the highest click-through rate, but the highest qualified click-through rate possible.

But wait one more thing.

Conversions are king. 

Another piece in this equation is the conversions and how you’re bidding on them.

If your bidding strategy is not aligned with:

  1. Keyword volume 
  2. Keyword competition 

Improving your CTR won’t contribute as much as it could to your ultimate goal which is higher ROAS. 

Why? Well if your bidding strategy is to max conversions, max CPC or target CPA, these will perform differently depending on your improved CTR.

I strongly recommend accounts initially use max conversions to achieve conversion data and then move over to target CPA, and then work on improving CTR or engagement rate by 1,2,3 or even 5%. 

What is a good CTR in YouTube Ads?

So, provided they’re contextually relevant keywords and there is a substantial volume, what is a good CTR in YouTube Ads? What does it take to land an “above average” score on your expected click-through rate? Let’s take a look back at the chart from the intro, which contains industry averages (these are Google Ads average CTR)

Industry average ctr

The average CTR for all categories is between 4-6%. So an above-average CTR in YouTube Ads would be above 7%. If you’re in the online education space, the average Click through rate is 5-6%, you’d want to aim for at least 8-10%. From our experience here at Yugo Media, info businesses, online education programs and course sellers need at least 7-8% to sustainably scale their customer acquisition with YouTube and Google Ads.

How to improve click-through rate in YouTube Ads

Now that we know what an ideal click-through rate is, how it impacts your Ads performance and what it means to have a good or above average CTR, let’s move to how to improve that, at scale.

The first way is targeting. And bearing in mind your targeting is keywords, not audiences or not placements. 

1. Target the right keywords

For starters, make sure you’re targeting the right keywords. Here are three ways of choosing keywords in YouTube Ads to focus on for higher click-through rates:

  • Focus on high-volume keywords: hyper-specific laser-tight keywords don’t trigger your ads enough times on YouTube and will affect your campaign's performance by the lack of data. 
  • Define the intent of keywords: if you are using a lead magnet to attract users into your funnel (a mini course, webinar, etc) make sure your keywords tangible follow the intent of what you are offering. 
  • Informational keywords: informational keywords tend to get high CTRs since searchers often have high intent of seeking knowledge on a certain subject. 
youtube ads ctr

2. Use negative keywords and placements

This is a must for keeping your click-through rates in check. Negative keywords and placements are the ones you don’t want YouTube to show your ad for. So if you sell new “Online PPC Courses”, for example, you would set “Online SEO Courses” or “Online Affiliate Courses” as negative keywords. This way, your ad won’t show for people unlikely to click on your ad.

3. Narrow your custom audience 

If you’re not running keyword-targeted ads (or if you are but are layering audiences on top of that), you may also want to revisit your audience targeting. By narrowing your audience down to more specific criteria, you can more specifically cater your ad copy and improve your click-through rate, even if you aren’t getting as many clicks overall.

How to improve YouTube Ads CTR with better ad creation

Low click-through rates could be because you’re bidding on the wrong keywords or targeting the wrong audiences. But often the Ad itself just isn’t performing, and there can be a number of reasons why. 

4. Keep it short and sweet

Unless branding commercial for the next Samsung Smartphone or the Next Mac Book Pro, you want to keep your Ad short, sweet and punchy.

  • Include a CTA early in the Ad, 5-10 seconds into the Ad.
  • Don’t clutter the ad with multiple takeaways have one clear value proposition and stick to that CTA (check out point #5 with this explained further).
  • Don’t use extra animations or motion graphics, people want to see what they are getting.
  • Don’t make long-winded “who we are statements that don’t communicate value”
  • Don’t complicate your ad with abbreviations that aren’t intuitive.
  • Use plain language that is understandable and to the point.

5. Include a CTA with a clear value proposition

Telling a user that you have what they’re looking for, that what you have is better than what your competitors have, is not a call to action. You need to actually invite your ad viewers to act. And to act now. Sign up now. Download now. Access Today. Get Started. Though it’s just one or two words, it’s a micro-push that can make all the difference.

People want tangible value, not a high-level fluffy offer. If you have a lead magnet that provides clear value, such as a mini course, webinar, ebook, or free training, tell people exactly what they are getting and why it's important for them. 

I often use the analogy, use the value proposition: “We do X so you can do Y” 

People want tangible value, not a high-level fluffy offer.

Jason Pittock, Founder @ Yugo Media - YouTube Ads Experts
youtube ads ctr

6. Be Creative, Stay Different

The reason you are probably using YouTube Ads is that you are creative and like to use that creativity to leverage your business. When it comes to creating instream YouTube Ads for your business, be creative. Think outside the box, and show your audience something that is a breath of fresh air. People want to feel an experience, deliver unique compelling Ads will require creativity. 

Here are 3 ways to get creative with your Ads:

  1. Use different backgrounds or locations 
  2. Change up how you present the narrative (use a whiteboard, chalkboard or even an animated screen) for example standing in front of a whiteboard to communicate your offer is different from just doing it with verbal communication. 
  3. Create rollovers and effects that change the way people interpret the CTA. 

7. Put the primary keyword in your description, and display path

It's absolutely a must, to include your main keyword (“SEO Courses”) for example in the headline or description along with the value proposition. 

The same goes for the display path. The display paths appear after the slash of your destination URL. Though they’re optional, you should absolutely use them. Treat them as a part of your ad copy and use them to include your keyword. In the examples below, one of these is not like the others. Those display paths can be used to indicate the value or reassure the viewer that you have what they’re looking for.

8. Connect the emotions with your Ad

Emotional ad creation is a must for increasing your click-through rate. But the secret to emotional ads is to keep it subtle and punchy. I often refer to “punchy ads” and the reason being is that instream Ads are short, and people see them the whole time. The magic is differentiation and using energy to punch through the noise. 

Not only is this additionally value-focused Ad creation, but it’s also more emotional. Nothing extravagant, but honest value. 

9. Use dynamic keyword insertion (beware of broad match search terms)

With dynamic keyword insertion (DKI), Google/YouTube will automatically insert the keyword that triggered your ad into your ad copy or headline. This is beneficial but has to be relevant so be careful when using broad match keywords so that the search term is aligned with the rest of the copy. 

Improve your YouTube Ads click-through rate

And there you have it. Average CTR is…well, average. Above-average CTR is the way to go (for relevant and affordable keywords, that is). Go this route and you’ll see higher impression shares, better ad positions, lower costs per click, and lower costs per conversion. Here is a recap of how to improve your click-through rate in YouTube Ads:

  1. Target the right keywords
  2. Use negative keywords and placements
  3. Narrow your custom audience 
  4. Keep it short and sweet 
  5. Include CTA
  6. Be creative, stay different
  7. Put your main keyword in your Ad description and display path
  8. Connect the emotions with your ads
  9. Use dynamic keyword insertion, and beware of broad-match search terms


CTR Matters, and a lot. Often people get disgruntled and give up on YouTube Ads for below-average performance. When you “take a look under the bonnet” you see that certain metrics are hindering the campaign's full potential, and therefore never giving it the chance to develop and mature. 

Building sustainable paid media funnels takes time and effort, and measuring independent metrics and improving them is essential to drive sustainable ROAS. CTR is one of those important metrics that must be managed to allow the rest of the steps in the marketing funnel to perform. Don’t underestimate improving your click-through rate on your campaigns, once improvements have been made, step back and watch the rest of your metrics shine! 

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