View the PDF from ECDC on using YouTube, from which the following information is taken.

“With over a billion active users, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, reaching more 18 to 49-year-olds than any cable network in the U.S. Using YouTube for HIV prevention allows global access to MSM and gives the unique opportunity to reach people who may not be reachable through more traditional social media platforms. 

Getting started

“YouTube is a highly competitive platform with 300 hours of content uploaded every single minute, so even with a large established following or a highly engaging video, it can still be difficult to get your content seen. To remedy this, it’s advised that you take advantage of YouTube’s advertising platform. 

“Once you’ve familiarised yourself with YouTube and have an understanding of how you want to advertise on the platform, then it’s time to create your first campaign.  Before you get started it’s important to first understand exactly what objective you are trying to achieve. There are three core objectives when it comes to advertising on YouTube and each has a slightly different plan of action.

– Video views: unsurprisingly, getting your content seen is one of the key reasons people come to YouTube. Whether you’re trying to build awareness around a campaign or help spread a particular message, this is most likely the objective you will be trying to achieve on YouTube.

– Clicks: the number of times a user clicks your advert or clicks through to your website. Due to the nature of YouTube as a video streaming service, a lower click through rate (CTR) can be expected in comparison to other platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Conversions: the number of times a user takes action on your website by engaging with one of your tools or services. Google analytics and Google AdWords must be linked up and connected to your website in order for conversions to track correctly. 

“Determining your core objective before beginning your campaign is vital as it will heavily influence the way you design and measure your campaign. Most YouTube campaigns will optimise for video views and awareness – so consider using an alternative platform if clicks and conversions are your core objectives.

Creating content

“On YouTube, video is king, so deciding how best to convey your message through this medium is the key to campaign success.  Before creating your content, consider who is going to be watching it, and how your video is going to be displayed. Different audiences respond differently to different content types, so it’s recommended that alternate videos are created for a wide range of audiences.  

“Before creating your content it’s also worth considering how it will be displayed on the platform. There are two ways your adverts can be seen, and they may both influence the type of content you create.

– Instream adverts: in-stream adverts are video adverts that play before – or during – a YouTube video of the advertiser’s choice. It’s worth considering the types of videos your adverts will be displayed on before deciding the type of content you’re going to create. These adverts are skippable after just a few seconds, so it’s important to either hook your audience’s attention early on, or incorporate your key messaging into the first few seconds of the advert.

– Video discovery: video discovery adverts will appear in search and as recommended videos in the side-bar of selected videos. In order for these videos to be seen, the user will have to actively click on them, so highly clickable content is a must. It’s important to think about both the title and thumbnail of these videos to entice people into watching them. 

Creating engaging content

“When creating content, ensuring that it is engaging should be your top priority. Before you publish your first video it’s worth considering the following: 

  • Be brief: try to keep your videos short and to the point. Looking at your video analytics can show the watch time of your videos and where your audience are dropping off. Experiment with different video lengths to see what works best for them. 
  • Be timely: be reactive and create content related to breaking news and current events. Plan ahead to take advantage of relevant tent pole occasions like World AIDS Day, Sexual Health Week, National HIV Testing Week, and Valentine’s Day. 
  • Utilise links: even though link clicks may not be your core objective, always give your audience the option to get involved and find out more by including a link to a relevant website. Overlaying video annotations can be beneficial but these aren’t always compatible with mobile. 
  • Create quality content: invest the extra time and money into curating and creating high-quality material. Higher quality content means higher engagement. 
  • Create a two-way dialogue: YouTube may be a video search engine but it’s also a social media platform. Encourage your audience to share your content and engage in conversation. 
  • Keep it simple: Don’t overwhelm your audience with too much information or multiple different call to actions. Keep it clear and make it as easy as possible for your audience to engage.


“The success of an advertising campaign on YouTube heavily relies on effective targeting. YouTube offers multiple different targeting options including demographics, interest and placement based targeting. 

Demographic-based targeting: 

“Demographic-based targeting allows you to target your audience based on gender, age, parental status and household income. YouTube determines this information based on a user’s Google account or behaviours inferred from their browser activity. This will not always be 100% accurate so it’s important to further narrow down your target audience with other targeting methods. 

Interest-based targeting:

“Sexuality based targeting isn’t available but it’s still possible to target MSM based on their interests. It’s also possible to narrow this down further into subgroups of MSM who may be at higher risk. By utilising the interests, keywords, and topics targeting options you’re able to create a clear picture of the people you are trying to reach and tailor individual adverts for them.

Placement-based targeting:

“The third, and often most successful, method of targeting is placement based targeting. This option allows you to place your adverts on specific videos and channels. Identifying channels and videos with a large MSM viewership is relatively easy through search. Searching for relevant keywords highly used by MSM can quickly identify which channels and videos are trending and most popular amongst MSM. YouTube will prioritise new content so it’s important to update this at least once per campaign cycle.

“Examples of highly viewed YouTube videos that are likely to be popular amongst MSM: 
– The Hottest Gay Sex – 31 million views
– How To Have Gay Sex – 5.8 million views
– Gay Guy Shows Lesbian His Penis – 3 million views
– Gay Guys React To Gay Porn – 1.2 million views
– Our Best Gay Sex Tips – 1.1 million views
– 10 Reasons Gay Sex is better – 900,000 views.
– Gay Couple Tries Sex Toys – 600,000 views
– Reacting To Gay Porn – 300,000 views

Examples of popular YouTube channels that are likely to be viewed by MSM:

Tyler Oakley: World’s most popular gay male YouTuber with over 8,000,000 subscribers.
Willam Belli: One of YouTube’s most successful drag queen channels with over 700,000 subscribers
Mark & Ethan: One of YouTube’s most successful gay couples with over 600,000 subscribers.
Tom Daley: LGBT+ sports person with over 350,000 subscribers

“A combination of the above targeting methods will produce the best results, and experimenting with different subgroups is the key to reaching the most at-risk individuals for the lowest price. 


“Before starting your YouTube campaign, you should have done the following: 

  1. Chosen your campaign objective and outlined your goals. 
  2. Created at least one engaging video that is optimised and suitable for your target audience. 
  3. Created at least one target group based on a combination of targeting methods.
  4. Allocated a budget and distribution plan and outlined achievable realistic targets.
  5. Set holistic goals to measure the overall success of your campaign and determined a plan to measure and act upon your on-going progress, successes, and failures. 

“Once you’ve completed these tasks you’re ready to start your first campaign. The success of any campaign will always rely on a certain degree of trial and error so remember to follow your campaign through every stage and be prepared to optimise and make changes as you go.”

Next module: Social ‘Influencers’

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