With more than 400 hours of video uploaded to YouTube’s servers every minute, it’s the undisputed king of Internet video. The sheer quantity and diversity of content enables advertisers to pinpoint their target audiences with exactly the right content, at the right time.

YouTube does not require users to be logged in, so targeting should be focused on contextual alignment and interest categories related to the video subject matter. Audience targeting is available for those who are logged into their Google profile; detailed insights into users’ online activities—search history, viewing times, etc.—enable persona-based or “affinity group” style targeting. For example, if you’re trying to target fashionistas, YouTube can help you find them.

What Can You Buy?

Broadly speaking, YouTube offers pre-roll, banner, and overlay ads.

YouTube Video Advertising
Example of a YouTube pre-roll ad

Pre-roll video ads can be skippable or non-skippable—but anything longer than 15 seconds must be run as skippable. Pre-roll ads automatically play, and unlike Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, sound is not muted. That means you can leverage audio as well as visual messaging.

Overlay and banner ads require the user to click on the ad, but they also have the advantage of always being in view.

There is no hard limit on maximum video length, but best practices dictate that ads running between 15-30 seconds perform best.

What Counts as an Impression or a View?

The video being served counts as an impression. YouTube counts it as a view when a user has watched at least 30 seconds of the video, or reached the end of it, whichever comes first.

How Do You Buy Ads?

YouTube ad buying can be conducted either directly via a Google account, through a third-party or a combination of the two. Bidding and payment depend on where and how the ad units run, but generally speaking, this is how it breaks down:

  • Non–skippable ads use CPM biding (pay per impression)
  • Skippable ads use CPV bidding (pay per view), using a metholodgy and product that Google calls TrueView, operating on AdWords. TrueView buying also offers the ability to run long-form video ads (longer than 30 seconds).

What Can I Learn About My Videos?

YouTube offers many video-centric metrics, including views, 25-50-75-100% completion rates, and derived metrics such as CPV. This can vary depending on the buying platform used; for TrueView reporting metrics, refer to this page.

AdParlor recommends:
Video ads that are no more than 30 seconds long.

That’s a Wrap!

On the world’s largest video platform, static ads alone simply do not make the cut—video ads are the most natural format and blend seamlessly into a user’s viewing experience on YouTube. YouTube now reaches more 18-49 year olds in the US than any cable TV network—that’s a lot of eyeballs! With the right content, and knowing the best ways to advertise on YouTube, you can turn viewers into your fans, and your fans into paying customers.