• By Diana Tavares

YouTube Ads - Choosing the Right Ad Formats

YouTube has over two billion monthly logged-in users and is the most used social media platform in the UK (Digital 2020 UK report from Hootsuite and We Are Social).

It's definitely a channel worth to include in your digital marketing portfolio, as it offers solutions to target your audience at any stage of the customer journey.

In this article, we will focus on what are the best ad formats to achieve your marketing goals.

The Right Ad Formats For Your Marketing Goals

Outstream vs. Instream: What’s the Difference?

Ads that play before (pre-roll), during (mid-roll) or after (post-roll) video content that you watch on a platform like YouTube are instream ads.

Outstream ads run outside the platform, across websites and apps. When running Google outstream ads, these will be shown across Google video partners, a collection of high-quality publisher websites and mobile apps.

Ad Formats for Brand Awareness

Marketing goal: introduce a product or message and keep your brand top of mind.

All these ad formats are bought on target CPM, except for Outstream video ads that are bought on vCPM (viewable CPM). With vCPM you pay when more than 50% of your ad is viewed for at least 2 seconds. Mastheads can be bought on CPM or CPD (cost per day).

Bumper ads are great to drive additional reach, frequency and brand awareness, especially when combined with longer creatives.

TrueView ads play before, during, or after other videos. After five seconds the viewer has an option to skip the ad.

There are 4 types of TrueView ads: TrueView for reach, TrueView in-stream, TrueView discovery and TrueView for action. TrueView for reach drives awareness and optimises for impressions.

Non-skippable in-stream ads allow you to share your entire message with up to 15-second ads.

As explained earlier, outstream video ads run outside of a video platform, such as within a news article or before a mobile game.

The Video masthead appears at the top of the YouTube homepage, these ads are only available on a reservation basis through a Google sales representative.

When creating a campaign, you have the option to create a video ad sequence campaign, showing ads in a particular order to individual viewers. You can think of each step as a chapter in the story of your product or brand. If you'd like to know more about how to create a video ad sequence campaign click here.

About reserved media placements on YouTube

Reservation campaigns let you buy impressions at a fixed CPM or CPD for Masthead ads. You can only implement reservation campaigns through a Google sales representative, meeting minimum spend requirements.

Although this option offers guaranteed impressions it has higher CPMs and more limited audience options than auction ads.

Ad Formats for Consideration

Marketing goal: drive consideration to your product or services during high intent opinion-shaping moments.

TrueView in-stream ads are bought on a cost-per-view (CPV) or Maximise lift. This last bidding option allows you to optimise for consideration lift, showing your ad to people who are likely to consider your brand or product. It uses survey response data in order to focus your campaign on reaching people who are more likely to consider your brand, product or service.

With CPV you are charged when a user watches 30 seconds of the ad (or to completion if the ad is less than 30 seconds) or engages with an interactive element (CTAs, cards, companion banners or links), whichever comes first.

TrueView discovery ads work in a slightly different way from TrueView in-stream, as viewers click on an ad to watch it versus being able to skip it after the first five seconds.

Ad Formats for Action

Marketing goal: drive conversions by reaching audiences in their decision-making moments.

TrueView for action ads include a customisable call to action to drive clicks and website actions, such as sign-ups, referrals, bookings, subscriptions, leads or purchases.

There are two types of bidding available for TrueView for action, target cost per acquisition (CPA) and Maximise Conversions. With target CPA you define the average amount that you’d like to pay for a conversion, while with Maximise Conversions you optimise towards getting the maximum conversions possible for your budget.


Before jumping into campaign creation take a moment to think carefully about your marketing goals, as you can see there are numerous ad formats so it is important to choose the ones that will help you achieve your goals.

One of the most effective ways to drive great results is to combine ad formats and create several campaigns curated for each stage of your marketing funnel by adapting your message to each audience and stage.

We hope this article will give you a better understanding of each ad format and when to use it. If you have any questions or need help defining and implementing your campaigns, don't hesitate to get in touch.


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