With billions of monthly users, YouTube is both the world’s second largest search engine and top website for video content consumption.

This makes it prime advertising real estate, but to succeed on the platform, advertisers need to use the correct YouTube ad specifications. These rules help ensure that your ad gets in front of more viewers, making you more likely to gain new customers and increase brand awareness.

What Ad Types Are Available on YouTube?

There are two broad categories of YouTube ads: display and video. Video ads play before, during, or after someone watches a YouTube video on a computer or mobile device. Display ads appear in a few spots throughout the platform, but usually use text and/or static images. Let’s take a quick glance at the ad types we’ll be expanding on in this post.

Video Ads:

  • Play before, during, or after a YouTube video on a computer or mobile device.
  • Two subtypes: In-stream ads (skippable and non-skippable) and Bumper ads.
  • In-stream ads can be skipped by viewers after a certain duration, while Bumper ads are non-skippable and play before, during, or after a video.

 

Display Ads:

  • Displayed in various spots throughout the platform.
  • Use text and/or static images.
  • Cannot target the YouTube app directly, but can be targeted to YouTube.com through Google Display Network (GDN).
  • YouTube does not support display image ads.

 

Companion Banners:

  • Appears to the right of the YouTube player on Desktop only.
  • Requires purchasing one of the main three ad types (In-stream ads, Bumper ads, or In-feed ads).

 

In-feed Ads:

  • Resemble videos with images, headlines, and two lines of text.
  • Links to a public or unlisted YouTube video.

 

Outstream Ads:

  • Outstream ads on YouTube are mobile-only video ads that play outside of the YouTube platform, appearing on websites and apps within the Google video partner network.

 

Masthead Ads:

  • Masthead ads on YouTube are premium, high-visibility banner ads displayed prominently at the top of the YouTube homepage for both desktop and mobile users.

 

Choosing the best ad type depends on your target audience, goals, and the most effective format for your specific needs. Next up, we’ll delve into more details about the ad specs for each type.

YouTube Ad Specs by Type

 

Below, we’ll cover the various YouTube ad options by type including their benefits and recommended specs. Let’s dive in.

Skippable In-stream Video Ads

Skippable video ads allow users to skip the ad after it plays for 5 seconds. These ads can be placed before, after, or during the main video. These ad types are separate from bumper ads, and the user may end up seeing two ads in a row (the skippable video ad and the bumper ad) before the main video begins. 

These ads boost conversions, garner video views, and engage with a broader audience on various devices, spanning desktops, phones, and TVs. With skippable ads you can tailor your bids to prioritize your objectives. So, depending on your campaign focus, you have the option to choose to pay for overall impressions or when viewers either watch your ad entirely or engage with the video first. With this ad type advertisers can also enhance user interaction by incorporating features such as call-to-action buttons, sitelink assets, product feeds, and more into your ads.

 

 Example of a skippable instream ad for on YouTube’s desktop site

Source: Google Support

 

Skippable video ads should follow the following specs: 

 

Resolution

  • 1080p (Full HD)

 

Recommended size in pixels (px):

  • 1920 x 1080px (horizontal)
  • 1080 x 1920px (vertical)
  • 1080 x 1080px (square)

 

Aspect ratio

  • 16:9 for horizontal
  • 9:16 for vertical
  • 1:1 for square

 

Format

  • .MPG (MPEG-2 or MPEG-4)

 

File size

  • ≤256 GB

 

Length (Best practice by marketing objective)

  • Awareness: :15-:20
  • Consideration: 2:00-3:00
  • Action: :15-:20

 

Headline

  • ≤15 characters

 

Non-skippable In-stream Video Ads

Unlike its counterpart, non-skippable video ads must be watched in entirety before the main video can be viewed. They can be added before, after, or during the main video. This ad type is available on desktop and mobile devices, but not on game consoles. For non-skippable in-stream, your ad should be 15-seconds (or shorter).

Non-skippable in-stream ads on YouTube ensure high viewability and captivate audiences, allowing advertisers to convey complete and impactful messages. Effective for short, impactful content, these ads offer premium placement before popular videos, guaranteeing impressions and enhancing overall brand awareness. 

 

Example of an unskippable instream ad for on YouTube’s desktop site

Source: Google Support

 

Note: 30-second non-skippable in-stream ads will be available in Google Ads in early 2024.

 

Non-skippable video ads should follow the following specs: 

 

Resolution

  • 1080p (Full HD)

 

Recommended size in pixels (px):

  • 1920 x 1080px (horizontal)
  • 1080 x 1920px (vertical)
  • 1080 x 1080px (square)

 

Aspect ratio

  • 16:9 for horizontal
  • 9:16 for vertical
  • 1:1 for square

 

Format

  • .MPG (MPEG-2 or MPEG-4)

 

File size

  • ≤256 GB

 

Length

  • :15 (:20 in certain markets)

 

Headline

  • ≤15 characters

 

Bumper Ads

Bumper ads on YouTube are ideal for reaching a broad audience with a concise and memorable message. These non-skippable ads, lasting 6 seconds or shorter, play before, during, or after other videos, ensuring viewers cannot skip them. Some bumper ads may also appear on YouTube TV. They are charged using Target CPM bidding, where payment is based on impressions. 

This ad format is best for campaigns with the goal of generating awareness and consideration. Bumper ads appear on YouTube videos as well as across websites and apps within Google’s video partner network, offering widespread visibility for short, impactful brand messaging.

 

Example of a bumper ad on the YouTube app

Source: Google Support

 

Bumper ads should follow the following specs: 

  • Video file format must be MP4, Quicktime, AVI, ASF, Windows Media, or MPEG
  • Maximum file size: 1GB
  • Maximum Length: 6 seconds
  • Recommended video dimensions: 640 x 360 or 480 x 360
  • 300 x 60 image, filetype jpg gif png

 

Companion Banners

A YouTube Companion Banner is a type of ad that appears to the right of the YouTube video player on desktop devices. To utilize a Companion Banner, advertisers need to purchase one of the three main ad types on YouTube: In-stream ads, Bumper ads, or In-feed ads. 

The Companion Banner provides an additional visual and interactive component to enhance the overall ad experience. It’s designed to engage viewers and promote brand awareness by offering content that complements the main ad being displayed on the platform. Keep in mind that companion banners only show on desktop – they don’t appear on mobile devices. You have the option to either upload a personalized image for the banner or let Google Ads create an image using your YouTube channel banner.

 

Example of a companion banner ad on YouTube’s desktop site

Source: Google Support

 

Note: Companion banners must be purchased alongside an in-stream video ad.

 

Companion banners should follow the following specs: 

 

Dimensions

  • 300 x 60

 

Format

  • JPEG, GIF, PNG

 

Maximum file size 

  • 150kb

 

GIF frame rate

  • Less than 5 frames per second

 

Resolution

  • 300px x 60px

 

In-feed Ads

In-feed video ads strategically position your brand, product, or service alongside YouTube content tailored to attract your target audience. These ads seamlessly integrate into key locations, including YouTube search results, the watch next section, and the Home feed within the YouTube app. 

In-feed video ads contribute to building brand consideration by appearing when viewers explore related videos, scroll through the YouTube Home feed, or actively search for content. These ads effectively deliver information to engaged viewers and increase the likelihood of audience interaction with your brand, fostering subscriptions, sharing, and extended video consumption. 

The format of in-feed video ads on YouTube typically includes an image thumbnail, a headline, and up to 2 lines of text, with viewer interaction leading to redirection to the YouTube watch page for the ad. In specific contexts, hovering over the thumbnail triggers muted autoplay.

Example of an in-feed ad on YouTube’s app

Source: Google Support

 

In-feed ads should follow the following specs: 

 

Resolution

  • 1080p (Full HD)

 

Recommended size in pixels (px):

  • 1920 x 1080px (horizontal)
  • 1080 x 1920px (vertical)
  • 1080 x 1080px (square)

 

Aspect ratio

  • 16:9 for horizontal
  • 1:1 for square

 

Format

  • .MPG (MPEG-2 or MPEG-4)

 

File size

  • ≤256 GB

 

Length

  • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
  • Consideration: 2-3 minutes

 

Headline/description

  • Headline: Up to 2 lines, 40 characters per line
  • Description: Up to 2 lines, 35 characters per line

 

Display Ads

YouTube Display Ads are a type of visual advertising format that appears on the YouTube platform. Unlike video ads, display ads are static images or animated media that can be shown in various ad spaces on YouTube, such as next to video suggestions, in search results, or on the YouTube homepage. These ads are part of the Google Display Network (GDN), allowing advertisers to extend their reach beyond YouTube and display their ads on a network of partner websites and apps.

 

Example of a display ad on YouTube’s desktop site

Source: YouTube

 

Standard display ads must meet the below specifications:

  • Image: 300×60
  • File type: GIF, JPG, PNG
  • File size: Max. 150KB
  • Max. animation length: 30 seconds

 

In addition to the specifications listed for all ad types above, YouTube display ads must follow Google’s image ad policies.

 

Outstream Ads

Outstream ads on YouTube are a strategic choice for advertisers aiming to extend the reach of their video ads on mobile devices, providing an effective means to connect with a broader audience. These ads initiate with sound off, ensuring a non-disruptive start, and viewers have the option to tap the ad to unmute the video for a more engaging experience. The primary objective of Outstream ads is to enhance video reach at a cost-efficient rate. 

Exclusive to mobile, these ads are visible on websites and apps within the Google video partner network but are not featured on YouTube itself. Outstream ads offer versatile mobile placements, appearing in banners for mobile web placements and in various formats, including banners, interstitials, in-feed, native, and both portrait and fullscreen modes for mobile apps. This flexibility allows advertisers to tailor their outreach strategy to different mobile environments.

 

Example of an outstream ad on YouTube’s app

Source: Google Support

 

Outstream ads should follow the following specs for logos: 

  • Square: 1:1 (200 x 200px) with transparent background
  • JPG, GIF, or PNG
  • Maximum of 200KB

 

Masthead Ads

A YouTube Masthead ad is a premium advertising format that appears prominently at the top of the YouTube homepage for desktop, mobile, and TV users. It is one of the most visible and impactful ad spaces on the platform. The Masthead ad is a large banner that spans the entire width of the YouTube homepage and can include a video or a static image.

It is designed to capture the attention of users as soon as they visit the YouTube homepage, providing advertisers with a high-visibility placement to showcase their brand, product, or service. It’s important to note that Masthead ads are only available on a reservation basis through a Google sales representative.

 

Example of an masthead ad on YouTube’s app

Source: Google Support

 

Masthead ads should follow the following specs: 

  • 16:9 video for optimal performance
  • Resolution should be 1920 x 1080 or higher
  • .jpg or in .png without transparency

 

Ready to Start Using YouTube Ads?

Venturing into the world of YouTube ads can be a game-changer for marketers looking to elevate their digital strategies in 2024 and beyond. With a diverse range of ad formats, YouTube provides a dynamic platform to reach audiences across devices. Whether you aim to build brand awareness, drive conversions, or reach a specific target demographic, YouTube’s reach and engagement potential make it a top choice. 

As with any advertising opportunities, make sure that you always follow Google’s advertising policies as well as the technical ad specs shared above. Looking to start YouTube ads this year? We can help. Contact us today to get started or take a look at our services to learn more.

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