It is no secret for online marketers that all major advertising platforms, from Facebook and Instagram to Google and YouTube, Amazon, etc. are constantly updating their ads formats, features, targeting and placement options and rates to engage the maximum number of visitors.

In this article I will focus primarily on YouTube’s current ad formats, since video marketing and specifically, YouTube advertising has seen a significant growth in the past 12 months.  Proof of that is the fact that according to Alphabet (parent company of Google) YouTube had $15.15 billion in ad revenue for 2019, up 36% from $11.16 billion the year prior. For Q4 2019, YouTube advertising sales were $4.72 billion, a 31% year-over-year increase. YouTube’s ad revenue was $8.15 billion in 2017.

So, what types of ads can you place on YouTube today?  I’m sure we’ve all seen the ads at one time or another while watching YouTube videos but in a nutshell, these are the formats available.

  • Skippable in-stream ads
  • Non-skippable in-stream ads
  • Video discovery ads
  • Bumper ads
  • Outstream ads
  • Masthead ads

It is important to clarify that while your video ads need to be hosted on YouTube, the ads may appear not just on YouTube but also on other websites and apps that are running on Google video partners.  If you’re wondering about the who, how, when of Google video partners, you can click here.

YouTube Ad Types - MGR Blog

Skippable in-stream ads

As the name indicates, skippable in-stream ads play before, during, or after other videos. After 5 seconds, the viewer has an option to skip the ad. They appear on YouTube watch pages and also on websites and apps running on Google video partners.

If you’re an advertiser using CPV bidding, you will be charged when the viewer watches 30 seconds of your video (or the full video if it’s shorter than 30 seconds) or if the viewer clicks on your video, whichever comes first.  Obviously, if the viewer clicks to “Skip Ad” after the 5 second requirement, you will not be charged for it.

If you’re using Target CPM, Target CPA, and Maximize conversions bidding, you will pay based on impressions.  According to YouTube, this type of ad is best suited for campaigns that focus on sales, leads, website traffic, brand awareness and product brand consideration.

Non-skippable in-stream ads

As opposed to the previous ad format, the non-skippable in-stream ads are 15 seconds (or shorter) and play before, during, or after other videos. But in this case, viewers don’t have the option to skip the ad. Basically, you will want to use this format when you want viewers to see the entire message without skipping your video.

Just like the skippable version, these ads will appear on YouTube videos and across websites and apps running on Google video partners.

In this case, since skipping is not an option, you will pay based on Target CPM (ad impressions) making this format best suited for brand awareness and overall reach.

Video discovery ads

The video discovery ads are displayed with a thumbnail image from your video with some text. 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. In this case, it is critical that you create a custom thumbnail for your video to entice visitors to click on it.  The video plays on the YouTube watch or channel page.

This type of ad is a good choice if you want 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.

In this case, you will only be charged only when viewers choose to watch your ad by clicking the thumbnail (again, make that thumbnail interesting!!).  If you want to promote a product or a brand, this ad format is a great option.

Bumper ads

Bumper ads are similar to the non-skippable ads, however, they are 6 seconds (or shorter). They also play before, during, or after another video. Viewers don’t have the option to skip the ad. If you want to reach a lot of viewers with a short and sweet message, this is the ad format that you want to use.

Just like the longer non-skippable ad format, bumper ads will appear on YouTube videos and across websites and apps running on Google video partners.

If you use bumper ads, you will pay based on Target CPM (ad impressions) making this format also ideal for brand awareness and overall reach.

Outstream ads

Outstream ads are mobile only ads.  They begin playing with the sound off. Viewers can tap the ad to unmute the video. If your target audience is primarily a mobile device audience, this ad will help you reach more customers that tend to be a better captive audience.  While only on mobile, the ads will also appear on websites and apps running on Google video partners. However, they will NOT appear on YouTube.  You can think if this format as a web banner using a video format.

As far as billing, the cost is based on Viewable CPM or vCPM.  The viewable part requires the viewer to see at least 2 seconds of your video ad to be considered an impression.  Whether 2 seconds is too short is up for interpretation.  As most types of banner or display ads, they are best for top of the funnel campaigns targeting brand awareness and reach.

Masthead ads

Masthead ads are probably the least known ad format within the YouTube options.  They are only available on a reservation basis and you can only reserve the ad space through a Google sales rep.  Basically, it’s a media buy in the traditional way of ad placement.

They are typically used for short-term campaigns that want to reach a massive audience in little time, say to promote a sales event, sporting event, grand opening, etc.

They are available on Desktop, Mobile and TV Screens and the way they work varies depending on the device.  Because they are only available on a reservation basis, you will need to speak with your Google rep to discuss rates and placements.  You can expect to be charged a fixed cost per day (CPD) and/or CPM, and Google will help you decide on your budget depending on your specific campaign and reach goals.

So there you have it!  Decisions, decisions.  Which type of ad is best for you?  No worries.  Our MGR Digital Marketing Team will be happy to chat with you one-on-one.  Use this link to contact us and set up your free consultation.

Thank you for reading.  Until next time, this is Manuel Gil del Real (MGR).


Photo by Kon Karampelas on Unsplash