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The Complete Guide to YouTube Ads for Beginners

The Complete Guide to YouTube Ads for Beginners

by Manavi Pandey May 22, 2020
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YouTube Ads

Why YouTube Ads?

Video content has become the most powerful means of reaching out. Only YouTube has over one-third of the total internet users as its subscribers. YouTube Ads, therefore are the most economical and efficient means of reaching out to a wide population.

Out of the 1.9 billion monthly users, 50 million are content creators. These content creators constantly update 576,000 hours of content on YouTube daily!

Simply by advertising on a huge platform like YouTube, you can stand above 90% of U.S. businesses in terms of marketing reach. This article will help you understand the specifications of YouTube Ads. It will also guide you toward the creation of substantial-quality marketing strategies through YouTube Ads.

YouTube relies on a type of content that’s been shown to move people unlike any other: UGC – user-generated content — videos created by actual users of the platform. Firms such as GoPro utilize that content in their marketing strategy, and consequently, they minimize expenditure needed to create influential videos from scratch.

The thing is, advertising on YouTube is extremely different from that on a pay-per-click or paid social campaign. Specific creative constraints and a variety of options will come your way, and so it becomes of utmost importance to go through this article to learn better about YouTube Ads.

Types of advertisements on YouTube

YouTube’s selling point is video content; therefore, video ads are a highly successful means to tap into the target audience and create a brand name. Video ads on YouTube can be classified into three types:

1.TrueView ads

  • In-stream
  • Discovery
  • For Reach

in stream youtube ad discovery youtube ad

2.Non-skippable ads

  • Pre-roll ads
  • Mid-roll ads
  • Bumper ads

And there are non-video ad classifications on YouTube, which are as follows:

  • Overlay ads
  • Display ads
  • Cards and sponsor ads

YouTube Video Ads – TrueView Ads

TrueView advertisements are called so because the advertiser pays only upon a true view of the advertisement. It’s a three-way win. It is great for advertisers since not only can a larger viewer population be targeted, but can be charged for the ads that are watched.

Next, it’s a win for viewers because they can view ads curated on their likes and dislikes. The user’s mouse is almost always hovering over the skip button and if you don’t give them a reason to stay, then the skip button is going to get clicked right at the sixth second.

They are also the most low-risk type of advertisements because the advertiser pays only when the advertisement plays for more than 30 seconds or the entire length of the video if lower than 30 seconds or only when the user is prompted to ‘click’ in response to a call-to-action. Alongside a 5-second view is guaranteed, which is 3-seconds more than what Facebook calls a view.

There are three sub-types of TrueView Ads:

  • In-stream Ads

true view in stream ads

  • Discovery Ads

true view discovery ads

  • TrueView for Reach

Let’s learn more about YouTube in-stream advertisements

In-stream ads are most commonly the advertisement type that the general public thinks of when asked to think about ads. These include ads that are skippable. They are placed in the starting of most YouTube videos. In-stream video ads mostly involve a call-to-action that is fit to be personalized to suit one’s message.

If you chose to display your message as an overlaying text on the video, your ad would fall under a TrueView for action ad.

Costing: For a TrueView in-stream advertisement the advertiser pays only when the entire duration of the advertisement is watched or when a click to an outbound link in the advertisement is received.

More about YouTube discovery/in-search advertisements

            Again, as the name suggests, this sub-type of advertisements can be seen on the YouTube search results page. To be precise, it appears on the right side above the ‘related videos’ section.

Costing: The payment for in-search ads is very different from that if in-stream ads. Here, the advertiser pays for the ads as and when they are clicked on, irrespective of the length of the ad viewed by the user.

More about YouTube TrueView for Reach

In April 2018, Google launched TrueView for Reach, a novel means to optimize TrueView ads based on various campaign goals. To advertise under this sub-type, the ad produced by you must be from 6 to 30 seconds.

Product managers for video ads Ali Miller and Khushbu Rathi revealed in a blog post that 87 percent of YouTube’s six-second Bumper ads drove “significant lifts” in ad recall, having an average of 20 percent across all campaigns. They added that the new TrueView for reach ads mix the existing in-stream format with “the simplicity of CPM [cost per thousand impressions] buying,” all fell below the 95 percent viewable and 95 percent audible parameters.

This means brands can create ads as short as six seconds (and up to 30 seconds), which users can skip after five seconds, and which will run before or during videos.

TrueView ads get the viewer engaged right away. It captures and focuses the viewer’s attention by asking one to engage with the ad. During the scripting of your ad keep your viewers in mind. Think about ways to promote a feeling of inclusion in the video?

Costing: TrueView for Reach follows a cost-per-mille (CPM) pricing. This means that for such shorter ads, the advertiser pays per 1,000 views.

YouTube Video Ads – Non-skippable YouTube ads

Non-skippable YouTube ads

As a YouTube viewer, you have to agree that non-skippable YouTube ads can get pretty annoying, but ultimately, their aim is to stay. While people may be learning how to tolerate these kinds of advertisements, as advertisers you do not want people to simply “tolerate” your ad. You’re aim should be to create an impactful connection with the viewer.

Therefore, the most vital point to note here is that your advertisement should be hyper-focused and crisply portray your product’s value to your target market. Nobody wants to be forced to sit through a 30-second video of your company history or generic product features while they’re waiting for a completely different video to start. Make sure that toward the end of your non-skippable ad, the viewer is not “annoyed” but is satisfied that his/her time was not wasted.

There are two sub-types of non-skippable YouTube Ads:

  • Pre-roll ads
  • Mid-roll ads

Pre-roll advertisements on YouTube

youtube preroll ads

Pre-roll ads are an ‘oldie but a goodie’ type of digital video advertisement available on YouTube. It’s a tested and accurate type of video ad. As the name suggests, this type of advertisement is displayed prior to the start of YouTube.

Hence, it grabs the focus of the viewer at a time when the viewer is definitely willing to watch something. In a recent study by IPG Media Lab and YuMe, pre-roll video ad formats were found to appeal better to mobile users compared to mid-roll and outstream executions.

As already explained pre-roll advertisements cannot be skipped, therefore it becomes even more important to encompass a call-to-action (CTA) to optimally utilize the user’s time. In simpler terms, your advertisement must encourage the viewer to take actions like clicking an ad link and receive a kind of benefit in return. For instance, if you have released a new product or are promoting an upcoming event, you must make use of pre-roll advertisements to receive sign-ups.

Costing: YouTube offers pre-roll advertising on a pay-to-click basis, meaning you pay YouTube for every click received.

Mid-roll advertisements on YouTube

youtube mid roll ads

Mid-roll advertisements pop-up between 10-minute-or-longer YouTube videos. Such types of ads have been found to have a greater completion rate than both pre- and post-roll ads. The reason being that in case of mid-roll ads, users have completed their video partially, when they reach the mid-roll ad, they will be more eager to continue viewing in order to complete the latter half of the main video.

But a downside of mid-roll ads is that they cut abruptly into the video and disrupt the audio-visual flow of a user. Luckily YouTube found a way to tackle this through their option of excluding your advertisement from certain video genres like “tragedy and conflict”, “sensitive social issues”, etc.

Costing: These ads are paid for on a cost-per-mille (CPM) basis, meaning you pay YouTube for every thousandth click received.

YouTube Video Ads –  Bumper ads

bumper ads

Bumper ads are a less annoying version of non-skippable ads. Bumper ads have an upper duration limit of 6-seconds. They are short ads and are an ideal target for mobile users.

Examples of some great bumper ads are here.

YouTube Non-Video Ads 

The next category of YouTube advertisements is non-video advertisements. This format of advertisements is useful if you wish to develop your own ads but do not wish to do it through a video, or an interactive video. There are three types of non-video ad formats that I will be explaining below:

  1. Overlay Ads
  2. Display Ads
  3. Sponsored Cards

Non-video Ads – Overlay Ads

Overlay youtube ads

YouTube in-video overlay ads pop-up at the lowermost part of the video screen while the video is played. It can be text- or image-based. It is not considered to be as intrusive as other ad layouts as it covers only 20% of the video window.

Therefore, through overlay-ads the user can view the ad while still watching the video as well as close the ad any time by clicking the “X” on the top-right corner.

Non-video Ads – Display Ads

youtube display ad

Display ads are shown on the right side of the main video and on top of the video suggestions list. Display advertising is only available on the desktop.

Non-video Ads – Sponsored Cards

sponsored cards youtube ads

Cards are small call-to-action pop-ups you can create. They will be displayed within the YouTube feature video. Use these to inculcate more engagement into your videos.

YouTube cards are useful in its unobtrusive position, while also compelling actions from viewers. Cards only expand fully when they’re clicked on (i.e., when the viewer is interested).

Uses:    1. Merchandising:

  1. Fundraising
  2. Video testimonials
  3. Playlists
  4. Associated websites
  5. Fan funding

Ad specifications

Types of adsResolution / Image dimensionsFile sizeFile typeDuration – MinDuration – Max




640×360 (19:9 aspect ratio) or 480×360 (4:3 aspect ratio)10 MB maxVideo Codec: H.264, MPEG-2, MPEG-4

Audio Codec: AAC, MP3

Skippable: 12sec


Non-skippable: 15sec




Overlay480 x 70150 kB maxStatic .GIF, .PNG, .JPGN.A.N.A.
Display300×250 / 300×60150 kB maxGIF, JPG, PNG, HTML5N.A.If animated: 30 sec
Sponsored CardsN.A.5MB Max.JPG, .GIF, or.PNGN.A.N.A.

Use of YouTube Ads

  1. Brand awareness
    YouTube has been ranked as the second most used and popular social media platform. It is a great space to advertise and market for your business and your products and services. It will reach out to a much wider audience, creating efficient and faster brand awareness.
  2. Launching new products
    Since YouTube is very widely used by almost everyone around the world it is a great space to advertise newly launched products. About 8/10 advertisers consider it the best platform for spending on marketing and advertising.
  3. Better engagement
    YouTube ads are also a powerful venue for engaging and interacting with your customers. For example Old Spice’s video campaign had released numerous videos of answering raised by their fans on other social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Their campaign proved to be incredibly successful, and Old Spice’s Twitter following saw a boost by 2700%.

Let’s begin with your campaign!

  1. Create a video advertisement.

    If you haven’t already done so, don’t worry you can use motionden or animoto or biteable or YouTube’s very own YouTube AdBuilder. Once your ad is created upload it to your YouTube channel.

    youtube video upload

  2. Create a Google AdWords account.

    There are multiple advantages to this step. Firstly, you can use it to enhance your YouTube advertising as you would essentially be combining two of the most powerful and widespread search engines. Secondly, it allows nuanced and focused targeting of your audience. Thirdly, AdWords provides analytics in an easy-to-understand layout. With the help of clicks, impressions, keywords, budgets, etc. an advertiser can easily pin-point the exact behavior of its viewers.

    google adwords

  3. Campaign type

    The next step is to select a campaign type.
    1. For skippable ads select ‘Video’ from the drop-down menu
    2. For non-skippable ads select ‘Display Network Only’

    youtube ad type

  4. Campaign name

    The next step would be to select a campaign name for your ad. This step is common, whether it is skippable ads or non- skippable ads.

    youtube campaign name

  5. Budget

    It is of utmost importance to pay heed to the Budget field, again irrespective of whether your ad is a skippable ad or non-skippable ad. This is the amount that you can effectively spend daily on your ads. This field can be modified at any time. For beginners, I suggest entering a modest and affordable figure.

    youtube ad campaign budget

  6. Select Your Networks

    This section allows you to chose where your ads will appear. For a video ad, there are three options available:
    – YouTube search results: Ads will be placed beside the YouTube search results. (This option will restrict you to TrueView discovery ads only.)
    – YouTube videos: Ads are placed on YouTube videos, channel pages, and the YouTube homepage.
    – Video partners on the display network: This option refers to the display of advertisements on other avenues of Google alongside the YouTube network

    youtube ad campaign network selection

  7. Location and Language

    Make sure that you select the country and language that your ad must appear in.

    youtube ad location targeting

  8. Bidding strategy

    Now you choose your payment model for the ad campaign. Google Ads provides four options:
    – Maximum CPV (cost-per-view): Costs depend on the number of views and interactions your video gains.
    – Maximum CPM (cost-per-mille): Costs are based on every thousand impressions your ad receives.
    – Viewable CPM (cost-per-mille or vCPM): Under these costs are per thousand impressions. For example, if a user lands on the page and immediately bounces off, you won’t be charged.
    – Target CPA (cost-per-acquisition): Costs are based on actions by viewers, like clicks on your ad.

    youtube ad cpa

  9. Exclude content

    This section is a little bit more detailed it permits you to opt-out from delicate content categories, such as “Tragedy and conflict,” and “Sensitive social issues.”

    exclude content on youtube adwordsexclude content on youtube adwords

  10. Ad Group Name (For both skippable and non-skippable)

    Give your Ad Group a name. Next would be to pick your specific target Ad Group. This is step simply lets you establish who sees your video. On the same page specify your target demography. Ads allow you to point out who your target audience will be by options such as their gender, age, and parental status, etc.

    google ads groups name and demographics

  11. Click on the ‘Narrow your targeting further (optional)’ button. (If available)

    Though it says optional, it’s highly recommended in order to focus your ads and reach out to the right target population. The simplest targeting way is by selecting the ‘Topics’ option. You’ll be able to view a graphic on the right of the page. This graph predicts the number of impressions your ads may receive. The information in the graph correlates with how your ad will be targeted.

  12. Ad Creation

    Last is the selection of your video format. YouTube will show you the available options based on the campaign selections you’ve made in the previous steps, these options would include:

  • In-stream ad
  • Video discovery ad
  • Bumper ad
  • Outstream ad
    Next, enter your ‘display URL’, ‘Call-to-action’ and ‘Headline’.

Configure Your YouTube Ads Video Ad

13. Save!

Finally, select the ‘Save’ button on the top of the page. Now all you’re required to do is wait for your ad approval from Google Ads.

The cherry on the top!

Lastly, a few basic tips about YouTube’s features to assist your creation of  A1 quality advertisements as well as to adapt and improve as per your audiences’ requirements:

  1. YouTube Analytics Data

    youtube analytics

    YouTube provides a huge resource of analytic data letting advertisers collect detailed information such as the number of times your ad was viewed, user engagement, and when and where do viewers stop watching the video.

  2. Remarketing

    This permits you to conduct YouTube advertising remarketing ads to users who have previously visited your website or landing page by tagging them.

  3. Channels 

    YouTube Channels can be curated and used as per your business’s station, similar to a Facebook page. You can customize the channel to be expressive of your business’s personality and create easier mediums for viewers to reach back to you.

  4. Advanced Targeting Options

    With the advanced settings section, you can set begin and end dates for your campaign, create a custom schedule for when your video ad should be shown, and limit the daily impressions and views for users. This all helps in receiving the highest possible returns for your ad spends.

  5. Homepage Roadblock

    With YouTube’s Homepage Roadblock(also referred to as a YouTube Masthead – the terms seem to be used interchangeably), This feature allows you to be an exclusive advertiser on the YouTube homepage for the entirety of 24 hours. That simply means access to about 23 million viewers, with 100% of viewer attention and absence of any competition.

Wrapping Up

If you need help with social media management check out our Ubercircle platform. It will help you to manage all your social profiles in one single dashboard thus, you will save a lot of money and time in the long run. Ubercircle also helps you to automate your posts, analytics and engage with your audiences.

Congratulations! Now you are all set to launch influential advertisements on YouTube! Were any of the above-mentioned features new to you? Do you find ads annoying and wish to remove them completely or do you want to make use of the above-mentioned tips and tricks and improve the quality of your advertisements? Have you ever paid too much for YouTube Ads and not received equivalent traffic from viewers?

I hope this article was interesting and helpful, we would love to hear your feedback.



How much does a YouTube ad cost?

On average, businesses pay an average YouTube advertising cost of $0.10 to $0.30 per view or action, with an average $10 daily budget. That means every time someone views your ad or engages with your ad, like by clicking on a call-to-action, you pay around $0.10 to $0.30.

What are ads on YouTube?

Advertisers look at YouTube as a way to reach audiences who are interested in their products or services. Many advertisers place ads on YouTube because they can get their message in front of consumers in moments that matter. Viewers typically come to YouTube to be entertained, inspired, or educated.

Do longer YouTube ads pay more?

Display ads beside your video - you will be paid either when a viewer sees or clicks on the ad, at the advertiser's discretion. ... Skippable video ads (ads at the start of a video that a viewer can skip after five seconds) - you get paid if a viewer watches the whole ad (or at least 30 seconds if it's longer)

Do YouTubers choose their ads?

Typically, no. YouTubers can obviously have paid product placements in their video, which could sometimes change the outcome of what specific ads are shown to users, but it's important to keep in mind that Google owns YouTube, but Google is still a search & ad marketing giant at heart.

Use Ubercircle to promote your YouTube channel and drive engagement. Easily publish videos to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter—all from one dashboard. Try it free today.

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Manavi Pandey

Currently pursuing B.A. (Hons) Liberal Arts with a major specialisation in Economics, Law and Computer Studies. Performed social media marketing for McDonalds, GoIbibo, and LaughGuru. Budding researcher and marketing specialist.

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