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Real Estate YouTube Ads 101: A ‘Beginner to Advanced’ Guide

Real Estate YouTube Ads 101: A ‘Beginner to Advanced’ Guide

In this detailed guide, I am going to explain how to run YouTube ads for your real estate business successfully.
Real Estate YouTube Ads 101: A ‘Beginner to Advanced’ Guide

What is the best way to promote a real estate business in 2022?

Ask any experienced digital marketer, and nine times out of ten, the answer will be video advertising. And when it comes to video advertising, YouTube is hands down the best platform, particularly for Realtors and investors.

You may be using YouTube to watch funny, viral videos, but did you know that YouTube is a search engine just like Google? In fact, it’s the second most popular search engine after Google. The platform has a whopping 1.9 billion monthly active users. Nearly 600,000 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every day. It means that people use YouTube when they look for information, services and products.

Since videos have a better reach than text-based content in 2022 (with the trend likely to hold up in the coming years), you will miss out on lead generation opportunities if you are not taking advantage of the YouTube advertising for real estate.

In a recent article, I discussed the best YouTube marketing practices for real estate agents. In this detailed guide, I am going to explain how to run YouTube ads for your real estate business successfully.

How to Set up a Real Estate YouTube ad campaign with Google Ads

Before we talk about different types of video ad formats and the best targeting options, let’s get the basics out of the way.

You probably already know that YouTube is owned by Google, so you use Google Ads (formally known as Google AdWords) to set up your YouTube ads.

You will need to set up an AdWords account.

If you have a YouTube channel, you need to link that YouTube account to Google Ads.

Go to Tools & Settings > Linked Accounts.

link account youtube ad

On the next page, find YouTube in the list of accounts that you can link with your Google Ads account and click ‘view details’. Follow the prompts.

link account prompts

Once you’ve linked the account, you can now create a new ad campaign. For this., go to Campaigns and click the blue + sign and then New Campaign.

new campaign youtube

Next click ‘Create a Campaign without a Goal’s Guidance’ and then click ‘Video Ads’

video ads youtube

On the next step, you will be prompted to select a campaign sub-type.

Following are the sub-campaign type:

  • Custom video campaign
  • Non-skippable in-stream
  • Outstream
  • Drive conversions
  • Ad sequence
  • Shopping

You can use different types of video ad formats depending on the campaign sub-type you choose. We will discuss video ad formats in a while.

As a real estate professional, you will want to avoid choosing outstream and shopping campaign sub-types. I would recommend that you choose ‘custom video campaign’ or ‘drive conversions’ as the sub-category type as your objective is to collect leads from prospective property buyer, sellers and real estate investors. However, a slight disadvantage of using ‘drive conversions’ as sub-campaign type is that you won’t have access to CPV as a bidding strategy. You will pay per conversion or action (Target CPA).

If you are choosing Target CPA as a bidding strategy, you can set a maximum amount you are willing to pay for an action.

target cpa

On the contrary, if you use custom video campaign as sub-category type, you can take advantage of Max CPV bidding strategy. You will pay for views and you can set the maximum amount you are willing to pay for each view as shown in the screenshot below:

max cpv

The best video ad format for driving conversions is ‘skippable instream’.

The next step is to set up your campaign. Here are a few campaign-level settings for you to follow:

  • Give your campaign a name
  • Set a daily budget
  • I would recommend that you uncheck the Video Partners on Display Network, particularly if you have a small daily budget.

ad objective

  • YouTube bidding strategy: There are two types of bidding strategies available for real estate YouTube ads – Maximum cost-per view (CPV) and maximum cost per thousand impressions (CPM). When you choose not to show your ads on the Google Display Network, you will be able to use CPV bidding strategy only. It means that you will pay for views, not impressions. It makes sense to pay for views, rather than impressions because pay-per-view is a more measurable way of advertising especially when your objective is to generate leads instead of brand awareness.
  • Now select a language, location (as a real estate agent you would want to show ads to YouTube audience in your city), labels, conversions (you will need to place a line of code on your website and landing page to measure conversions. If you’ve run Google Ads in the past and set up conversion, you can use that conversion in your YouTube ad campaigns), devices, frequency capping at campaign level.
  • Give your ad group a name
  • Now you need to define audience (people you want to promote your video ad to) with the help of different types of audience targeting options. I will explain in detail all the available targeting options in a later section in this guide because it’s very important that your video ads reach the right audience. Select the demographics (age, gender, parental status and household income).
  • Select topics. Under real estate, there are three options available – property development, real estate listings and real estate services. Check out all the sub-topics under these categories and select the ones that are suitable as per your campaign objective and target audience.
Pro Tip
The most expensive targeting option is keywords followed by topic and placements. Keyword targeting is expensive, but it is usually the most effective.

sub topic

  • You can also use Placement feature of YouTube targeting. You can search the YouTube channels popular among home buyers, home sellers and real estate investors in your area and show the ads to the audience of these channels.

placement targeting

  • Now you need to select the Max CPV bid. It is the highest amount you’re willing to pay for someone to view your video ad. You can determine your Max CPV bid depending on your budget.
  • Next you need to provide a YouTube video or YouTube URL that will show as an ad.
  • In the next steps, you will need to enter the landing page URL, a Call-to-Action, a headline, an image (either automatically generated or manually uploaded from your YouTube video). On this page, the most important step is to choosing a video ad format. Let’s discuss all the available video ad formats in detail.

Best video ad formats for real estate

I am sure you must have watched a lot of videos on YouTube and in most videos, you have come across different types of YouTube ad formats.

  • In-stream ad,
  • Video discovery ad,
  • Bumper ad,
  • Non-skippable in-stream ad,
  • or Outstream ad.

The following short YouTube video from Google explains different types of ad formats in an easy-to-understand language.

As a real estate professional, I believe you would like to avoid outstream ads, bumper ads and non-skippable in-steam ads.

  • Bumper ads: These are six-second video ads which users can’t skip. They appear before a YouTube video.
  • Non-skippable in-steam ads: These play before, during or after a YouTube video. Like bumper ads, they can’t be skipped by the user. It means that the user has to watch them from beginning to end. Non-skippable in-steam ads can be between 6 and 15 seconds.
  • Outstream ads: These are for mobile and table devices and show on partner apps or websites outside of YouTube.

Bumper Ads, non-skippable in-stream ads and outstream ads are the right YouTube ad format for brand awareness and reach. But if you don’t have a daily budget of thousands of dollars, you would want to avoid these ad formats.

The best ad formats for generating real estate leads are in-steam skippable ads and/or discovery ads. If I have to choose between the two, I will go for in-steam skippable ads.

Let’s discuss these two video ad format types in detail:

Skippable in-stream YouTube videos

In this video ad format, the user has the option of skipping the video after five seconds.

The best part is that since you are using CPV (cost per view) bidding strategy, you will pay only if the user clicks on the landing page URL (call to action button) or watch the video for at least 30 seconds.

If your video is less than 30 sections, you will be charged only if the user watches the full duration of the video. For this reason, it is important that you use CPV as a YouTube bidding strategy instead of CPM. As I’ve already explained, you pay for per-thousand-impressions when you use CPM bidding strategy.

Discovery ads

This ad format also offers targeted traffic to your ads. Your ad will show when someone uses YouTube search with the search terms relevant to the keywords you are targeting. Your ads may also show in the related videos. You pay when someone clicks on the ad.

Best targeting options for real estate YouTube video ads

How effectively you can define your audience is what will determine whether or not your ads will reach the right people. This will indirectly have a great deal of impact on conversion rate.

As I have already mentioned, you specify audience when setting up your campaign. Here is a detailed explanation and some tips on how to specify audience for real estate YouTube ads:


In this section of audience targeting, you have the options to specify your audience based on age, gender, parental status or household income. You may use these options depending on your audience targeting goals.


For example, if you are promoting a community for seniors, you wouldn’t want to show your ads to younger audience. Similarly, if you are a luxury real estate agent, you can target people with a high household income.


If you have run a Google Ads campaign in the past, Google will suggest ideas about your target audience. For example as you can see in the screenshot below, Google Ads is showing 17 ideas which are very specific.


The third option is ‘Browse’.

Here you will search for audience based on five parameters:

  • Detailed demographics
  • Affinity and custom affinity
  • In-market, life events and custom events
  • Remarketing and similar audiences
  • Audience combination

five audiences

Check out this Google article to learn more about these different types of audiences in general, but if you are a real estate professional on a small budget, I would recommend that you focus on in-market audience.

Go to real estate category after clicking in-market audience and select the right option.

in market audience

Keywords vs audience targeting

Since YouTube is a video search engine, keyword targeting can definitely drive highly-targeted traffic to your ads.

Use a combination of audience targeting and keyword targeting to get the best results.

YouTube advertising best practices for real estate agent

  • Unless you are a big brand such as Zillow or Trulia, avoid brand awareness or website clicks as a goal for your ad campaign.
  • The best goal for your ads is to drive conversions. Drive your prospects to a landing page where you are displaying property listings, and an eBrochure (if you are promoting a specific property) or where you are asking for their contact details in exchange for a lead magnet such as an eBook.
  • When you are using skippable in-steam ads, your videos shouldn’t be too short or too long. The ideal length in my option is from 15 seconds to 45 seconds. Most advertisers promote a 20-second video.
  • If your ad is not able to grab the attention of users within 5 seconds, you will most likely get a poor conversion rate.
  • You can get free brand exposure if you add your real estate agency’s logo or brand messaging in the first five seconds of the video. Even if a user skips the video, he or she would most likely see the logo or brand messaging. This will create brand awareness.
  • Use YouTube’s Brand Lift solution to measure the effectiveness of your ads. Check out the linked article from Google to learn what Brand Lift Solution is and how it can help you improve your real estate video ads.
  • You should ideally have a YouTube channel where you publish videos on a regular basis. If people want to follow your brand after watching your ads, they would be able to do so only if you have a solid presence on the platform. Publish videos on a regular basis. Follow these real estate YouTube marketing best practices.

To learn more about real estate PPC advertising, check out the following Realty Crux articles:

Over to you

Did you know that almost 68% of users turn to YouTube to get help with a purchase decision?

As a real state agent or an investor, you can get a competitive advantage by promoting your listings or services on YouTube. Most real estate agents are not doing it, so the platform is not as competitive as Google Search Ads is. You can get a lot of views on your ads even if your budget is small.

Let me know in comments if you’ve any questions about YouTube advertising for your real estate business.

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