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Beginning of section: Ad Formats

Ad Formats

There are an array of different ad formats you can employ to make your brand campaign stand out. Experiment with the formats and how they can interact with one another. To start, take a look at the formats below for an introduction to each.

Bumper Ads

A bumper ad is a :06 short-form video ad perfect for viewers watching “on-the-go” with mobile. Narrow to a single focus of your brand’s messaging to make the most of their swift six-second length; they are also used to help tease, amplify or echo the main narrative of longer-form ads.

Use a flock of Bumpers, 3-5 ads, for more creative space to convey your brand message. In this way, they can be combined to tell a larger story in a few parts.

6 in 10 Bumpers campaigns drove a significant lift in Brand Awareness with an average lift across all campaigns measured at 10%.1

Google Preferred

Google Preferred ads are non-skippable, mid-length videos, about fifteen to 20 seconds in length (depending on country and market category), and is designed to match content users watch on mobile. The longer length allows your brand’s key message to better resonate.

TrueView InStream

TrueView InStream skippable ads are usually long-format videos ads where brands develop a deeper narrative. It’s a chance to captivate an audience, and most in this format are counted among the most-watched on the YouTube Ads Leaderboard.

Front-load the story arc even though you have length; the first five seconds are when you must grab the viewer’s attention, the point where they are most likely to click “skip.”

In a study of 89 US brand videos, viewers who watched TrueView ads for 30+ seconds were 23x more likely to visit or subscribe to the channel, watch more videos by the brand, or share the video.2

TrueView Reach

TrueView for Reach is an enhancement of the InStream format that optimizes for impressions instead of views to help drive specifically-defined marketing outcomes. It allows your brand messaging to be seen and heard by more people, and is billed by CPM.

TrueView Action

TrueView for Action is a video format designed to optimize the off-YouTube action you need your consumers to take to meet your brand goals. It uses a CTA to prompt viewers to “Buy Now” or “Learn More” with a button embedded directly into the video, so it’s easy for them to take action. The format is especially valuable when targeting those who have reached the bottom of your marketing funnel and are ready to make a purchase.

TrueView Discovery

Typically a 300x250 thumbnail image from your video plus text that appear on the upper right hand rail; when clicked, the video plays on YouTube Watch or a brand channel page. You are charged only when viewers click to watch it.


A video ad takeover of the YouTube homepage; use it for the highest visibility.



Different ad lengths and formats––from :06 Bumper Ads to Google Preferred and TrueView––do different things. Experiment with a combination of each to make the most of your campaign messaging and reach.


When creating long-form content, make sure the first five seconds are attention-grabbing so viewers don’t hit skip.

Beginning of section: Know Your Campaign Objective

Know Your Campaign Objective

The best campaigns begin with a clear objective. Understand what yours is at each stage and know the target audience to inform your brand’s creative execution.

The 3 Objectives

There are three objectives across the marketing funnel: Awareness, Consideration and Conversion. Take a look at each campaign stage for the YouTube ad formats that most commonly support it.

And be creative! Don’t be afraid to experiment––the combinations here are only suggestive:

Awareness: a creative plan that achieves awareness for a new brand or product launch. Goal: people will be able to recall and recognize your brand after watching the video.

Consideration: a creative plan that drives purchase consideration, working in tandem with a general awareness campaign. Goal: people will consider buying what you’re selling after watching the video.

  • TrueView InStream
  • TrueView Impact
  • TrueView Discovery
  • Flock of Bumpers

Conversion: a creative plan that drives the final action to purchase. Goal: people will be more likely to visit your brand’s website or store to purchase your product after watching the video.

  • TrueView Action



Know the three main campaign objectives––awareness, consideration and conversion––and understand the most common ad formats that correspond to each.


At the same time, be creative with the formats you choose. Some of the best campaigns can also be the ones that break the rules.

Beginning of section: Audience Targeting

Audience Targeting

Video ads run on YouTube and across the web through the Google Display Network, which reaches over 90% of internet users worldwide through 2 million sites and apps3. By targeting your audiences based on who they are, what they're interested in, and what content they're viewing.

Targeting Methods


In the U.S., choose the age, gender, parental status, or household income of the audience you want to reach.

Affinity Audiences

Reach people who are passionate about topics relevant to your brand based on their lifestyle, interests, and needs. Youtube offers more than 100 unique affinity audiences, such as Foodies and Gamers.

Custom Affinity Audiences

Create affinities that are tailored to your brand. For example, rather than reaching Sports Fans, a running shoe company may create a custom affinity to reach Avid Marathon Runners.

Custom Intent Audiences

Reach people on YouTube who recently searched for your products or services on Google. For example, an airline could reach people on YouTube who recently searched for "flights to Hawaii."

In-Market Audiences

Find customers actively researching or considering buying a service or product like those you offer.4

Video Remarketing

Reach viewers based on their past interactions with your videos, TrueView ads, or YouTube channel, which shows their interest in your brand or content. Use the AdWords custom combination feature to target users who’ve viewed your video but not yet purchased your products.


Target unique channels, videos, apps, websites, or placements within websites. These include YouTube channels, YouTube videos, websites on the Display Network, and/or apps on the Display Network.


Target your video ads to specific topics on YouTube and the Display Network. Reach a broad range of videos, channels, and websites related to the topics you select.


Depending on your video ad format, show your ads based on words or phrases related to a YouTube video, YouTube channel, or type of website that your audience is interested in.



Target your audience based on their interests and the kind of videos they’re viewing.


Targeting methods such as Affinity Audiences make it easier to reach people who already have a strong interest in topics relevant to your brand.

Beginning of section: YouTube’s Brand Care System

YouTube’s Brand Care System

YouTube has strict policies that define what kind of content is permissible on YouTube and what kind of content is suitable for advertising. The Brand Care system combines these policies with technology that analyzes a tremendous amount of videos on the platform with a team of people who can respond to issues quickly. These safeguards help you ensure that your ads are aligned with the right video content.

Flagged Content

Videos that don’t comply with our Community Guidelines are removed based on user flags and policy review.

YouTube reviews videos flagged by users 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and typically responds to flags in less than an hour.


YouTube classifies every video. This system is honed continuously based on human review, inputs, and algorithms.

Based on our advertising policies and a video’s classification, YouTube determines if running an ad would be appropriate.

If a creator allows ads to run on their video, that video must meet our criteria for monetization.

Content Suitable for Your Brand

A combination of brand care defaults and your optional exclusions determine which videos are suitable for your brand’s ads.

Keep your ads off videos whose themes aren’t appropriate for your brand by excluding certain topics.

Opt back into some kinds of content—such as videos rated for teen or mature audiences—if it’s suitable for your brand, or exclude more granular categories like sensitive subjects (war, disasters, scandals and investigations, etc.).



YouTube classifies every video with labels and ratings according to topics and sensitive subjects, so you can choose to run your ad on videos that align with your brand’s identity and message—and keep it away from videos that don’t.


YouTube’s policies about what videos can and cannot live on the platform also help determine which videos can be monetized. For more information, visit the YouTube Policy Center.

Beginning of section: next steps

Next Steps

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  • 1 Source: Google Bumpers Brand Lift Meta Analysis, Global, 2017, across over 2,900 studies.

  • Google TrueView Bumper Lift Meta Analysis, 2016, Global.

  • 3 comScore data.

  • 4 “In-Market Audiences” Think with Google.

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YouTube Creative Essentials

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YouTube Creative Essentials