YouTube is known for its ability to generate massive amounts of internal links through annotations, video responses, etc. But thanks to YouTube's Clickable Call To Action (CTA), users can now drive traffic from their video to the external URL of their choice for as cheap as $5 set-up.

This semitransparent lower-thirds, 15-second ad is a golden opportunity to create a strong CTA and in turn increase your site's traffic for minimal cost, making it imperative to understand exactly how to setup YouTube's Clickable CTA.

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Step 1: Set up the Promotion

Before you can create your YouTube CTA you must set up a promotion for your video through YouTube's Promotion Program. The promotion program works like Google Adwords as it allows you to bid on specific keyword phrases on a Cost-Per View basis, so the more you pay the more your video will show up in the Promoted Video section for the specific keyword(s).

Note: The promotion is only a formality to unlock the CTA option, however. If you're looking to pay to promote your video, great, this promotion is a solid option.

But if you simply want to set up your lower-thirds CTA overlay ad, you can underbid on the promotion ($0.01 CPV) and use the CTA to send traffic from your video to your website free of charge after the initial $5 it costs to set up the promotion.

With that said, to create your promotion simply open the video you're looking to promote/add the lower thirds to and click the "Promote" link on the upper right hand corner of the screen.

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After clicking "Promote" YouTube is going to send you to the billing page (unless you've already signed up) where you pay your up-front cost of $5 to set up your promotion account. Assuming you're only interested in the Clickable CTA, this will be your only cost. Simply fill out your credit card information, click "Add Billing!" and then set your maximum daily bid ($0.01).

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After paying the $5, YouTube will take you to the first step in creating your promotion, which is writing your promotion title and description, as seen below. Again, this is nothing more than a requirement to get to the CTA so if you have no interest in the promotion program, it doesn't matter what you use as your title and description, as the CTA copy comes later.

ALSO ►  GE: Harnessing the Power of YouTube Creators to Tell Its Story [Case Study]

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The next step is to choose your keywords. For those only interested in the lower thirds Clickable CTA, it's best to choose keywords that no one searches or keywords with such high competition that your bid of $0.01 will never even come into play.

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After selecting the keywords you want to target (or don't want to get picked up), the last step in creating your promotion is setting your Cost-Per-View maximum bid. YouTube defines the CPV max bid as the "highest price you're willing to pay each time a user clicks on your video and views your promotion.”

The higher you bid the more likely it is your video will be promoted to those who search your target keywords, so keep the bid at $0.01 if all you want is the Clickable CTA.

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After setting your max CPV bid, click "Next" and if everything looks good on the confirmation page, click "Okay, run my promotion!" Once the promotion is created, you can set up your lower thirds overlay ad.

Step 2: Create the Clickable Call To Action Ad

Finally you're all set to build your YouTube CTA. Head over to "My Channel" → "Videos" and click "Edit" on the video you set up the promotion for.

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Since the promotion has been created for the video, a section titled "Call-To-Action Overlay" is added in the "Edit" section below the video. This is where you develop the Title and Body of the ad as well the Image, Display URL and External URL.

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After you fill in the above fields, you've created your first YouTube Clickable Call To Action lower thirds ad! Thanks to this opportunity, views can turn into website visitors with one simple click.

By setting your max CPV bid extremely low you can drive traffic to your site for only $5! So now that you know exactly how to setup YouTube Clickable Call To Action (CTA) lower thirds ads, translate your video views to page views on your website and watch your traffic increase.

  • CamContacts

    Excellent article! Just put into action. A few questions though. YouTube merged their Promoted Videos on to the Ad Words for Video platform. So, the Promoted Videos>Choose keywords step doesn't exist any longer (we think) now. We also never had the initial $5 account set-up fee, but we have set maximum daily bid @ $0.01. So, we are wondering if we've set the overlay up wrongly? Can anyone help out? Thanks!

  • Joe Kalange

    Great article, Mike! I have a couple of questions that I would like to ask you privately. Can I message you privately via email or Facebook?

  • Juan Sebastián Celis Maya

    ¿Can you set up the time where the CTA starts to show at?

  • Sean Folkson

    in case it helps, here is the video on YouTube:

    and you can see it embedded at

  • Sean Folkson

    hey guys, I got the ad running on my video, but it's not showing when the video is embedded on another site. Only when viewed on YouTube. Can I make it so that the CTA overlay appears even when the video is embedded?


  • Calvin Merritt

    Great article. Thank for sharing. For those that do not want to do it themselves be sure to contact

  • Cate Trotter

    Hi there,

    I've followed all the steps but it's showing me CTA ads for a third party. The only thing I can think of it's that I'm using a music track that YouTube/Google thinks is licensed.

    Is this the reason? Or are CTAs not affected by licensed music tracks?



  • Jeff Martin

    I'd recommend not setting up a promoted video campaign through the YouTube interface but through your AdWords account. More control, better reporting and more options available there.

    Also, the AdWords campaign you set up for your videos does not need to be active. Set it up in AdWords then pause the campaign. You pay $0 for clicks on your call-to-action overlayw.

  • Abadin Bed and Breakfast – Shirley

    Thanks Mike - great tutorial !

  • Julian Martinez

    NICE! super thorough, very much appreciate the detailed instructions of how to use this cool (mostly) free tool! Going to have to give it a whirl!

  • Gerry Grant

    Very well done article. Thanks

  • Dan Safkow

    This is a brilliant YouTube marketing strategy. Highly targeted and budget is not a barrier for anyone. Thanks for sharing, Mike.

  • Patrick Hughes

    Hi Mike, ok I understand. So will I be charged the 1 cent each time someone clicks on my own ad on my own video.

  • Mike Schmitz

    Hey Patrick,

    Good question. You do have to set up a new promotion for every video you want the CTA to appear on, but you only pay the $5 to make yourself eligible to set up these promotion.

    Does that make sense? So no matter how many videos you want to promote, you only pay $5 total.

  • Patrick Hughes

    Hi Mike, do I need to setup a new promotion (another $5) for each of my videos that I want an overlay on?