When you target topics with your YouTube Ads, your ads will run on videos related to the topics you are targeting. It is based on the content of the videos that your ads are going to run on. In this case, it is not about the user or their general interests and habits, like custom intent targeting. Because it’s actually about the specific video your ad is shown on, topic targeting is an excellent type of targeting.
To explain this better, let’s say that I have a product related to fitness. I can choose to show my ads on a fitness-related topic. The great thing about that is my ad will be shown to people interested in fitness at the exact time that they are consuming fitness related content. Consumers tend to be much more receptive at this time.
Topic targeting is set up so that there are main topics that get broken down into subtopics as well. Some of these subtopics even break into sub-subtopics. So to continue with my example, I could target ‘Beauty and Fitness’ or I could go deeper into a subtopic and just target ‘Fitness’. If I wanted to go even deeper, I could target just ‘Bodybuilding’.
Depending on the topic and how Google has it organized, you may be able to go a few levels deep with targeting. In my opinion, the biggest drawback to topic targeting is that there are only a limited number of topics available that have all been defined by Google.
So if I wanted to run ads that targeted the topic of YouTube Ads, I wouldn’t be able to because Google doesn’t offer that topic. Of course, there are other ways to target videos about YouTube ads, but it can’t be done within the topics section. If I really wanted to use topic targeting, I could maybe use the ‘Marketing’ topic, but that would most likely be too broad as I am interested in reaching people searching for YouTube Ads.
To get a full list of available topics to target, my team and I created a free resource for you:
The last thing I’ll say about topics is that you can (and should) exclude topics from your campaign. This will keep your ad from showing on any videos related to the topic you excluded. Certain topics you may want to consider excluding are music videos, video game playthroughs (topics that generally bring nothing but bad, low-quality traffic).
There also might be topics you want to exclude specifically based on what you are advertising. It is worth taking note of those topics while you are also searching for topics you may want to include.