YouTube Advertising: How to Choose The Right Ad Format

YouTube Advertising: How to Choose The Right Ad Format.
Matthew Hayes.

Matthew Hayes Managing Director

June 14th, 2018

Receiving 4,950,00 views daily, YouTube is increasingly gaining power in the social media world. If you want to advertise and expose yourself to your specific target audience, then YouTube is inevitably an excellent avenue to go down. But with so many advertising options to choose from, deciding on the right ad format can be trickier than it first seems.

To ensure you get the most out of your YouTube advertising, we've summarised each ad format so you can choose the type of ads that is best for your goals and budget.

Understanding The Different Ad Types

There are many different options on how and where you want your ads to be featured, so before picking the perfect ad format, you should consider what you are aiming to achieve.

Depending on where or how your ad is displayed, you will reach different audiences with varied needs and requirements. For example, if you are advertising your plumbing business, you may want to use a different ad type to a business trying to promote a new model of car.

Here is everything you need to know about the different ad types and what they are best used for:

TrueView Ads

TrueView ads are not length constricted and viewers have control over if they want to continue to see the full ad as they are skippable. The benefits of this are that you can have a broad reach, connecting to a wider target audience. Also, you are only paying for views over 30 seconds long, meaning you do not pay for views from uninterested users that actually skipped your ad.


  • Opportunity to experiment with ad settings for a low cost

  • Native appearance; ads appear naturally and not forced upon viewers

  • Cost effective as you only pay for engaged viewers

  • Link with AdWords to target your audience

  • Exposure to hard-to-reach audiences

In-Stream Ads

In-Stream ads are perfect for widening your reach and targeting the audiences you want to connect with. Your ad can appear before, during or after a specific video, allowing the best chance of engagement from the viewer.

These ads will be featured on a selected video and will play for 5 seconds before offering a skip option to the viewer. Only if the viewer continues to watch the ad for the next 25 seconds will you be charged for a view.


  • Cost effective (skippable - you only pay for extended views)

  • Disrupts the video so grabs the viewer's attention

  • Target your audience by selecting the types of videos your ads appear on

Digital or In-Discovery Ads

In-Discovery ads are the best option when you want your ads to be featured through user searches. These ads are shown at the top of video suggestions for a specific search and look like sponsored videos.

Whilst anyone can use In-Discovery ads, they work best if you are offering a service. For example, if a user is searching for a 'how-to' or DIY video your ad promoting DIY products or services can provide your user with the idea of a finding a quicker solution.

In-Discovery ads show up on YouTube video search results at the top of the page, on the YouTube mobile homepage and next to related videos on the watch page which helps to make them look native.


  • Great for How-to and DIY videos

  • Successful for businesses offering a service

  • Three locations to display on

  • Look native on the page

Overlay Ads

Overlay ads appear as a semi-transparent footer to a video, displaying either text, and image or both. They appear once a video has began and can be closed by the user if they wish to. This is a great advertising format for those that don't have any video content to publish. As Overlay ads are also not as intrusive as other ad types that take up the whole video space, they are a great choice for those who want their ads to look more native.


  • Looks Native to the video appearing on

  • Is not intrusive 

  • Easy to use (photo or text)

Bumper Ads

Bumper ads are ideal for raising awareness of your brand; exposing your business to new audiences and allowing you to create a memorable impression on the viewer. These non-skippable ads can appear before, after or during a video. This forces the viewer to take notice and subsequently increases brand awareness.

Unlike the other ad formats, Bumper ads work on a CPM bidding system where you are charged per thousand impressions. This means that you do not pay for individual viewers and only pay a fee for every thousand viewers. This can prove to be quite cost effective, as all with skippable ads, you only pay for views over a certain duration of the ad and. So with the CPM system, you can make the most of your budget and avoid paying for every single view which can be costly on popular videos.


  • Cost effective (pay per thousand views rather than per single view)

  • Ideal for leaving a memorable message

  • Viewer is forced to take notice

Sponsored Cards

Sponsored cards allow you to feature your products in a user-friendly side bar that appears over the video. By being able to advertise next to a relevant video, you have a higher chance of engaging the user and encouraging them to visit your website.

Similarly, by providing easy access to your website where the user can find that product, there is less chance of losing the user in the buying process; making it quicker and easier to make a purchase.

Again, anyone can use Sponsored cards but this type of ad is best used when featured on review videos and haul videos.

Maximise Your Results With Audience Targeting

Once you have chosen the format of your ad you need to then think about who you want to see it.

YouTube allows you to select who you want your ad to appear in front of and where. You can target your ad to an audience by choosing demographics, audience interests, content topics and keywords. This ensures that you are reaching the viewers who are more likely to engage in your ad.

Other than choosing your ad type, you need to also ensure that the content of your ad includes a call to action as you can track traffic to your site from the ad and increase conversions. This can also be a great indicator as to how well your ads are being received and can allow you insights into how to move forward with your ads. Note that this may involve changing the format, the content and even the demographics which you are advertising to.

YouTube ads are an effective and flexible way to advertise. With so many ad formats to choose from and the ability to target audiences by demographics and even geographical location, you have a strong chance of targeting the right people and making your ad as cost-efficient as possible.

Want to know more about YouTube Advertising? Speak to our team of experts and see how you can get the most out of advertising for your business.

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