YouTube Ads | The Main Ad Types & How Well to Advertise

With YouTube Ads, you can reach potential customers and have them take action when they watch or search for videos on YouTube – and only pay when they show interest. In short, you’ll just be seen where everyone is watching! No videos? No problem! There’s a solution for you too! But first, there are two facts you need to know.

First of all, in an average month, 18+-year-olds in the United States alone spend more time watching YouTube videos than any other television network. Secondly, on mobile alone, more than 18 to 49-year-olds watch YouTube during prime times in the United States alone than they do on other top prime network shows combined.

What are YouTube Ads?

As a result, over the last two years, the number of small- and medium-sized businesses advertising on YouTube has doubled. In this article, we are going to look into YouTube Ads, how they work and how you (as a web marketer) can best utilize them to your advantage.

What Are YouTube Ads?

YouTube Ads are the ads that play on YouTube videos you watch and are tailored to your interests. Meaning (the videos you’ve watched), are based on your Google Ad Settings – whether you’re signed in or not. When you’re signed in, these anonymous signals may decide which ads you see:– types of videos you’ve viewed.

These anonymous signals may decide on:
  • The ads you’ll see,
  • Types of videos you’ve viewed,
  • The apps on your device and your use of apps,
  • Websites you visit,
  • Anonymous identifiers associated with your mobile device,
  • Previous interactions with Google’s ads or advertising services,
  • Your geographic location,
  • Age range,
  • Gender,
  • YouTube video interactions, etc.

These ads are based on the content of the videos you’ve watched whether you’re signed in or not. In order to manage privacy settings for ads, you can control the ads that you see based on your Google Account Ad Settings. Also, as elaborated in this article, you can view, delete, or pause your YouTube watch history.

Equally important, if you’d want to turn off ads on YouTube, you can check out the paid memberships for an ad-free experience. Furthermore, to stop seeing a specific ad, you can select Info Informationand thenStop seeing this ad’ on the ad. This option is only available if you have ad personalization turned on in your Google Account Ad Settings.

Related Topic: YouTube Advertising | 5 Benefits of Using Video Ads

Sometimes, if you see an ad that you dislike, you can use the info above to manage your ad settings. If you see an ad that is inappropriate or even violates Google’s ad policies, you can report it.  To report the ad, select Info Information on the ad then ‘Report this ad’ or choose to fill out and submit this form.

The YouTube ads team will then review your ad report and act on the report if appropriate. Reporting ads are only available on YouTube mobile and on a computer. Likewise, you can also fill in lead forms. When you open a lead form in a video campaign on YouTube, some fields are pre-filled when you’re signed in to your Google Account.

How YouTube Ads Work

Oftentimes, creating YouTube ads for your brand is both an art and a science. But, first, ask yourself: who’s going to see this? Where and how might they be watching it? Brands advertise on YouTube because it’s the world’s second most popular website, drawing 2 billion logged-in visitors a month.

If you’re deciding how to allocate your video ad budget, YouTube has the vast reach and powerful targeting capabilities that make it an undeniably valuable platform across the customer journey. But, let’s be upfront: YouTube ads aren’t the most intuitive part of your Social Media Advertising Strategy.

How YouTube Ads Work

Rest assured that taking a bit of extra time to learn the fundamentals now is going to pay off in your ROI later. To start, let’s take a look at the main types of ads on YouTube, both video and otherwise.

The key types of YouTube Ads include:
  1. Masthead Ads
  2. Skippable In-stream Ads
  3. Non-skippable In-stream Ads (including bumper ads)
  4. Video Discovery Ads (formerly known as in-display ads)
  5. TrueView Video Discovery Ads

If you’ve already been spending time fine-tuning your YouTube marketing strategy, you’re probably familiar with most of these formats, by virtue of having seen them in action. And while video ad content must be hosted on YouTube, video ads can appear on YouTube and across various websites and apps

Particularly, running on Google Video Partners (depending on your ad format and campaign settings). Now, let’s walk through and take a gander at the details.

YouTube Masthead Ads

Whenever we talk about YouTube Ads we can not forget talking about YouTube Masthead too. With YouTube Masthead, you can showcase your brand, product, or service in a native video-based ad format that appears in the YouTube Home feed across all devices.

As an example, YouTube Masthead is ideal for people who want to do quite a lot. Such as drive massive brand outreach/awareness or even plan their buys in advance — that’s if they don’t want to rely on auction. As well as show off their brand or service in a more prominent space — like in the YouTube Home Feed.

A featured video in a Masthead ad autoplay without the sound for the full duration of the video at the top of the YouTube app or m.youtube.com Home feed. The mobile video Masthead ad features a video thumbnail, customizable headline, description texts as well as an external call-to-action (CTA).

How does the ad format work?

First, as I mentioned, you can use this format when you want to drive awareness for a new product or service or reach a massive audience in a short period of time. For example, if you want to get more leads conversion from the event of a sale.

Unfortunately, Masthead Ads are only available on a reservation basis through a Google Sales Representative. If you’re a beginner marketer, there are various methods and ways to utilize them. Let’s consider some of them below.

Desktop:

  • A featured video in a Masthead ad autoplay without the sound for up to 30 seconds at the top of the YouTube Home feed.
  • The Masthead ad can appear in a widescreen or 16:9 aspect ratio format and includes an information panel to the right that automatically uses assets from your channel.
  • You can optionally include up to 2 companion videos in this panel.
  • People can click the mute icon if they want to hear sound from the video.
  • After autoplay, the main video defaults to the video thumbnail.
  • When people click on the video or click on the thumbnail, they’re taken to the YouTube watch page for the video.

Mobile:

  • A featured video in a Masthead ad autoplay without the sound for the full duration of the video at the top of the YouTube app or m.youtube.com Home feed.
  • The mobile video Masthead ad features a video thumbnail, customizable headline, description texts as well as an external call-to-action (CTA).
  • The mobile video Masthead ad also automatically pulls in the channel name and icon from the advertiser’s channel.
  • When a user clicks on the mobile video Masthead ad, it will exit to the YouTube watch page for the featured video.

TV Screens:

  • A featured video in a Masthead ad autoplay (where supported) without the sound for the full duration of the video at the top of the YouTube app for TVs.
  • The Masthead ad can appear in a widescreen or 16:9 aspect ratio format.
  • People can use their TV remote to interact with the Masthead ad.
  • After autoplay, the main video defaults to the video thumbnail.
  • When people click on the video or thumbnail, they’re taken to the watch page for the video to watch full-screen.
  • You can’t add a CTA to a Masthead ad on TV screens.

Because Masthead Ads are only available on a reservation basis, you’re charged on a cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) basis. After all, you can even work with the Google advertising team to get a rate estimate and campaign impression goals. You can visit this article for more details.

Skippable In-stream Video Ads

These ads play before or during a video (a.k.a. “pre-roll” or “mid-roll”). Their defining feature is that viewers can choose to skip them after the first 5 seconds. As an advertiser, you only pay when viewers choose to keep watching past those first 5 seconds.

You can use skippable in-stream ads when you have video content you’d like to promote before, during, or after other videos on YouTube. As well as across websites and apps running on Google video partners. However, your ad must be at least 12 seconds long (though somewhere under 3 minutes is recommended).

But, you’ll only pay when a person has watched the first 30 seconds or the whole thing. Or if they interact with your ad by clicking: whichever comes first. Skippable in-stream ads play before, during, or after other videos.

YouTube Skippable In-stream Ads

After 5 seconds, the viewer has an option to skip the ad. Skippable in-stream ads appear on YouTube watch pages and across websites and apps running on Google video partners. They are also mainly the Sidebar Ads. In this case, you’ll see the term “TrueView” pop up a lot.

TrueView is YouTube’s pet name for the payment type where you only pay for an ad impression when a user chooses to watch it. (The other type of TrueView video ad is the discovery ad type, and we’ll give more details on that below.)

How do B2B Companies use them?

For example, take a look at how B2B company Monday.com uses skippable in-stream ads for lead generation. On the right, there’s a 5-second countdown to when a viewer can skip the ad.

On the left, you can see plainly how long the ad is (0:33 seconds, in this case.) Meanwhile, their sign-up CTA shows up in both a companion banner in the top right of the display and a video overlay in the bottom left. (Note that even if a viewer skips the video, the companion banner remains.)

Likewise, B2C online education brand MasterClass uses skippable in-stream pre-roll ads to promote their memberships. However, theirs run long: this one is nearly 2 minutes.

How will I be charged?

Okay, with CPV bidding, you pay when a viewer watches 30 seconds of your video (or the full duration of the video if it’s shorter than 30 seconds) or interacts with your video, whichever comes first. It all depends on your best interests here.

With Target CPM, Target CPA, and Maximize conversions bidding, you pay based on impressions. So, which campaign goal(s) do I need to select to use this ad format? You may consider them to increase sales, get more leads or even increase website traffic.

As well as to improve your brand awareness and outreach. You can also use these ad formats for more product and brand consideration. Not to mention, you can use this ad format when you choose “Create a campaign without a goal’s guidance” in Google Ads too.

Non-skippable In-stream Video Ads

By the same token, you can use non-skippable in-stream ads when you have video content you’d like to promote before, during, or after other videos on YouTube. As well as across websites and apps running on Google video partners. And that you want viewers to see the entire message without skipping your video.

Because 76% of people report that they automatically skip ads, some advertisers choose to run pre-roll or mid-roll ads that don’t have a skip button at all. When should you do this? When you’re aiming for a wide lift in brand awareness, and you’re confident that your creativity is strong enough to hold your audience’s attention for the full 15 seconds.

How does the ad format work?

Non-skippable in-stream ads are 15 seconds (or shorter) and play before, during, or after other videos. Viewers don’t have the option to skip the ad. Although, some non-skippable in-stream ads may also appear on YouTube TV, depending on eligibility. Learn more about YouTube TV ads in detail.

Note that with non-skippable ads, advertisers pay per impression, at CPM (i.e., per 1,000 views). Or, up to 20 seconds if you’re in India, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, or EMEA in general. This is mainly related to Bumper Ads.

Non-video ads

For advertisers without a budget for video, YouTube offers non-video ads. They come in the following formats:

  • In-video overlay ads: appear floating on top of video content from monetized YouTube channels.
  • Display ads: appear on the right-hand sidebar, and include an image and text, alongside a CTA with a link to your website.

In an ideal world, both of these ad types appear in conjunction with related content. Of course, that’s not always the case.

So, which campaign goal(s) do I need to select to use this ad format? In this category of ads, you can consider them mainly for brand awareness and reach. Not forgetting, you can also use this ad format when you choose “Create a campaign without a goal’s guidance” in Google Ads.

Video Discovery Ads

Whereas in-stream ads function something like a traditional TV commercial, discovery ads are more akin to the ads you see on Google’s search results page. (This makes sense when we remember that YouTube is as much a search engine as a social platform.)

Eventually, discovery ads show up alongside organic search results. So, if your video looks more relevant than the organic results, people can choose to watch it, instead. Discovery ads include three lines of text along with a thumbnail. When interested people click on the ad, they’re sent through to your video page or YouTube channel.

Discovery ads are also a type of TrueView ad because people must actively choose to watch them. You can use video discovery ads to promote video content in places of discovery. Including next to related YouTube videos, as part of a YouTube search result, or on the YouTube mobile homepage.

So, where does the ad format appear? Video discovery ads consist of a thumbnail image from your video with some text. While the exact size and appearance of the ad may vary depending on where it appears, video discovery ads always invite people to click to watch the video. The video then plays on the YouTube watch page or channel homepage.

Video discovery ads appear:
  • On YouTube search results
  • Alongside related YouTube videos
  • On the YouTube mobile homepage

Notably, you’ll be charged only when viewers choose to watch your ad by clicking the thumbnail.

In reality, they are best suitable for product and brand consideration. You can also use this ad format when you choose “Create a campaign without a goal’s guidance” in Google Ads.

Bumper Ads 

On one hand, you can use Bumper Ads when you want to reach viewers broadly with a short, memorable message. Bumper ads are 6 seconds (or shorter) and play before, during, or after another video. Viewers don’t have the option to skip the ad. Some bumper ads may also appear on YouTube TV, depending on eligibility. Feel free to learn more about YouTube TV ads in detail.

Normally, bumper ads appear on YouTube videos and across websites and apps running on Google video partners. Whereby, they use Target CPM bidding. So, you’ll only pay based on impressions. They are suitable for brand awareness and reach. Though, you can also use this ad format when you choose “Create a campaign without a goal’s guidance” in Google Ads.

At 6 seconds long, bumper ads are a snappy subspecies of the non-skippable in-stream ads. They’re identical in that you pay for impressions, they show up as pre, mid, or post-roll, and they’re generally best used for reach and awareness campaigns.

Outstream Ads

On the other hand, you can use Out-stream Ads when you want to expand the reach of your video ads on mobile, helping you reach more customers. Outstream ads begin playing with the sound off. Viewers can tap the ad to unmute the video. They are designed to increase your video reach at an efficient cost.

So, where does the ad format appear? Outstream ads are mobile-only ads and only appear on websites and apps running on Google video partners. Outstream ads aren’t available on YouTube. And, as such, they can run across a variety of different mobile placements. For mobile web placements, out-stream ads appear in banners.

In mobile apps, out-stream ads appear in banners, interstitials, in-feed, native, as well as in both portrait and fullscreen modes. You’re charged for out-stream ads based on viewable cost-per-thousand-impressions (vCPM). So, you’ll only be charged when someone sees your video play for two seconds or more.

As a result, they are suitable for brand awareness and reach. You can also use this ad format when you choose “Create a campaign without a goal’s guidance” in Google Ads.

TrueView Video Discovery Ads

TrueView video discovery ads can run on the YouTube search results and watch pages for both desktop and m.youtube.com, as well as the mobile app homepage. The ad unit consists of an image thumbnail and up to three lines of text.

Clicking the ad will deliver a user to the YouTube watch or channel page to view the video rather than playing the video within the ad unit itself.  TrueView video discovery ads appear differently, depending on where they run. And as such, consider the following:

YouTube Search Results

TrueView video discovery ads appear on YouTube search results alongside organic search results. The ad contains a thumbnail, headline, channel name, and video view count. The top-ranked ad may also be repeated below the organic search results.

YouTube Video Watch Page

Video discovery ads can appear on watch pages in 2 different positions.

One; in the related video section as a unit that contains a thumbnail, headline, channel name, and video view count.

Two; as an overlay on the video. Overlays look the same on the YouTube watch page and on embedded players.

YouTube Mobile Apps Homepage

TrueView video discovery ads can appear on the homepage of the Android and iOS YouTube app on days when the mobile video masthead is not sold.

Example 1: Discovery Ads Android 
In Display Mobile App Android Homepage
Example 1: Discovery Ads iOS 
In Display YouTube iOS App Homepage

From the above illustrations, you can see an outlook of both the Android and iOS (Portrait) Versions of the YouTube TrueView Video Discovery Ads.

Having said that, you can read and learn more about How to use picture-in-picture on iOS 14 and How to Add Apps to the Android Phone Home Screen in detail.

YouTube Mobile Web Search & Watch Pages

As for this one, video discovery ads can appear on the YouTube mobile search & watch pages as a promoted video in the top related video slot for high-end devices too.

Below is a good example of how the YouTube mobile search & watch pages will appear as promoted videos.

in_display_mobile_search in_display_mobile_watchpage

YouTube Ads — Assets Overview

Below is an Assets Overview to know while using the TrueView Video Discovery Ads.

Asset Name Asset Description
Video URL Video must be uploaded to YouTube
Image Choose from 4 auto-generated thumbnails
To implement custom thumbnails, contact your Google representative
Headline text 25 characters max (any more than 25 will be truncated on some devices)
Description Two lines 35 characters max each
The description is not shown in Suggestions

In order to create a TrueView video discovery ad, videos must be public or unlisted. Equally, all ads must comply with the YouTube Advertising Policies.

YouTube Ads — Video Settings

Skippable and non-skippable in-stream video ads on YouTube must first be uploaded as regular YouTube videos.

So, for the most part, your video ad’s technical specs (file size, ad dimensions, ad image sizes, et cetera) will be the same as for any YouTube video. Once it’s uploaded to your channel, you’re ready to go. The exception here is Discovery ads, which must conform to the following:

  • File Size: 1 GB (Maximum)
  • File Format: AVI, ASF, Quicktime, Windows Media, MP4, or MPEG
  • Aspect Ratio: Native aspect ratio without letterboxing (examples: 4:3, 16:9)
  • Resolution Size:640×360 (16:9) or 480×360 (4:3) recommended
  • Preferred Video Codec: H.264, MPEG-2, or MPEG-4
  • Preferred Audio Codec: MP3 or AAC
  • Frame Rate: 30 FPS

Basically, some of the Reporting Metrics you’ll come around include Impressions, Clicks, and Views.

The YouTube Standard Display Ads 

For your information, the standard display ads run across different Google properties:

  • YouTube: all sections of the site except the Homepage
  • Zagat: all sections of the site as top and bottom unit

They are available as a 300×250 display ad. For the bottom unit on Zagat, 300×600 size can also be used. The 300×250 display format is available to you through AdWords, or alternatively, as part of a reservation sponsorship campaign.

What are the Required Assets?

As a rule of thumb, always make sure that you provide one of the following:

  • Google-hosted: image and click-through URL
  • Third-party served: tag from an approved vendor
    • If you’re providing tags from DoubleClick, InRed tag formats are required.
Minimum length
  • Skippable Ads: 12 seconds
Maximum length
  • Skippable Ads: 3 minutes
    • Skippable ads on YouTube Kids: 60 seconds
  • Non-skippable Ads: 15 seconds
    • Non-skippable ads in EMEA, Mexico, India, Malaysia, and Singapore: 20 seconds
  • Bumper Ads: 6 seconds

Please Note: YouTube does not accept pop-ups, expandable ads, floating ads, or any ads with uninitiated audio. You can learn more about Creative Submission and Turn Around Time in detail for that matter too. Learn also more about How to Advertise on YouTube in detail.

What is the Downside of Skippable Ads?

One of the key downsides is that skipping ‘Skippable Ads’ has become a very ingrained behavior. Notably, skipping past skippable video ads particularly on the YouTube platform has become an “ingrained behavior” for most consumers.

This is according to the results of a media trial released by IPG Mediabrands’ Magna and Media Lab units. Seventy-six percent of consumers said they skip the ads because it is an ingrained habit, the study found.

Get Started: Be seen where everyone is watching

“This is further exacerbated by the fact that not only do the majority skip ads, but they do so right away,” the IPG units note in the report, adding that a primary reason why consumers complete skippable ads has to do with whether they are relevant to them and whether they are currently “in-market” for the product or service being advertised.

“In-market audiences are more swayed by pre-existing brand affinities,” they explained, adding that “everyone else tends to just ‘wait it out.’”

On the plus side, Magna Senior Vice President-Intelligence Solutions Strategy Kara Manatt said the media trial identified “viable solutions” to improve the viewing of skippable ads. With that in mind, in this article, you’ll find all the information explained in detail.

Takeaway,

Agreeably, as the second most popular search engine worldwide, YouTube is one of the most powerful platforms for businesses trying to capture customers’ attention. And with nearly two billion users logging in every month, the platform has a tremendous capacity.

More so, for helping brands attract new audiences and establish a loyal following. Also, given how vital YouTube has become a successful digital strategy, it’s surprising to remember that advertising on the platform started only a decade ago.

Overall, YouTube’s advertising engine is powerful and capable of endless optimization tweaks, but at the end of the day, your ad’s success will depend on how it connects with people. That means your creative choices matter.

Related Links:

YouTube is one of the best options for creating a cost-effective advertising campaign. With an Average CPV of $0.026, an average view rate of 31.9%, and an average view CTR of 0.514%. And now, it’s time for you to get started with this form of advertising. Good Luck!

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