YouTube Ad Formats: A Beginner’s Guide

Graphic Of Laptop Viewing YouTube Ad

Every year more and more companies are looking to video ads as a new way to promote their products and services. Although several different platforms offer video ads, YouTube is still king. YouTube has allowed companies to run ads since 2006 and their ad platform has come a long way from their fledgling “participatory video ads”. At the time of this post, YouTube offers in-stream ads, video discovery ads, and bumper ads. In this post I will break down the main differences between these three formats.

TrueView In-Stream Ads

The first type of TrueView ad, in-stream ads allow you to play your video before, during, or after another video. These can be skipped after 5 seconds. Because you’re only charged when someone interacts with your ad or watches 30 seconds of your video (or the entire duration if it’s less than 30 seconds), you can get free views by ending your video before 30 seconds and giving people the opportunity to skip the remainder of your video. In-stream videos are the preferred ad format for many advertisers.

TrueView Video Discovery Ads

Video discovery ads are the second type of TrueView ad and these appear with YouTube search results, next to related videos, or on the YouTube homepage. TrueView ads can vary in length, but the gold standard is 30 seconds. YouTube recommends no shorter than 12 seconds and no longer than 3 minutes. One benefit of video discovery ads is that your ads will have a thumbnail of your video and some text, but you will only be charged when someone clicks on the ad. Make sure to make the text count because you get exposure even if your ad isn’t clicked on.

Bumper Ads

Like in-stream ads, bumper ads play before, during, or after another video but aren’t skippable and must be 6 seconds or less. You pay based on impressions so make sure your video is succinct and memorable. Quite a few companies have found ways to do this, Geico’s Unskippable campaign in particular comes to mind. Because these ads can’t be skipped they’re good for getting your message out there.

Which Ad Format Should You Use?

With three different ad formats to choose from, it can be hard to choose what format to go with. Unless I have run similar campaigns before, I always let data determine what formats I use and I recommend you do the same. In-stream and video discovery ads are easy to test side-by-side, but unless you make a video with the 6 second limit in mind your video won’t perform well when shortened to 6 seconds.

If you’re new to video advertising it can feel a bit overwhelming, but never fear! Epic Marketing specializes in helping our clients achieve their KPIs, regardless of the platform. One of the best parts of working with a full-service agency is that we take a lot of the guesswork out of marketing. We’ve worked with hundreds of clients across dozens of verticals and industries. How can we help you?

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