Video Ads

Video ads on YouTube were formerly known as in-stream video ads.

How Video Ads Work

Video ads (formerly in-stream video ads) can run in video players appearing on YouTube watch pages and channel pages with featured videos. These ads may run on YouTube desktop, mobile web and apps, connected TV, and game console properties, as well as the Google Video network and embedded YouTube players. Video ads may be skippable or non-skippable. Skippable video ads can be a maximum of 60 seconds and non-skippable video ads can be a maximum of 15 seconds (20 seconds in EMEA, India, Malaysia, and Singapore). Non-skippable video ads that are up to 30-seconds long are allowed on a sub-set of inventory. We also allow 5 second bumper video ads as part of sponsorship packages.

The video ad can appear when a user initiates video play either in the beginning (pre-roll), at points in between (mid-roll), or after (post-roll).

A view of a skippable ad will increment the YouTube view count at the 30 seconds mark or when the ad has been watched completely. Non-skippable ads do not increment the view count.

You can create non-skippable 15-second or 20-second video ads through AdWords. To create 30-second, standard video ads or 60-second skippable video ads, contact your customer service representative.

Keep in mind

Companion banners are optional and can be omitted from video ads. If you choose to include companion banners, be aware that that they’ll display only in the context of a watch page on YouTube. They do not appear on mobile devices, embedded players, connected TVs, or on game consoles.

Assets Overview

Asset Optional/Required File Type Comments / Details

 Site Served

Video URL Required Must upload Video to YouTube and set as public or unlisted (see guidelines below and help link for uploading Videos)  
Click-through URL Required Must provide a destination URL (can be 3rd party URL) for video ads  
Companion Banner Optional
  • 300x60
  • JPG, GIF, SWF, PNG*
  • 150Kb max size
  • Up to 24 fps
  • 30 seconds max animation time (user-initiated / autoplay allowed)
Please see
Standard Banner Ads specs
for complete overview.

Third-Party Served

Video Ad Required VAST Tag - H.264 (MP4) and WebM video file types must all be included within each video creative (other formats may be included but may not be used) Must be a Linear (Pre-Fetch) Tag
Companion Banner Optional Served via the VAST Tag Same requirements as for the site served companions.
Does not need to be sent as a separate asset.
  *.PNG images that use alpha-channels or color profiles may show differently to the users in different systems.

Creative Submission and Turn Around Time

  • Assets received by YouTube no later than FOUR business days prior to campaign start date sent via your Account Manager.
    • If the asset for skippable video ad does not get to the system 24 hours before the campaign start date, the video view count will not increment correctly
  • Maximum of 2 creative revisions for site-served creatives are allowed per 6-week period for active campaigns.
  • Maximum of 3 creatives per site-served placement.
  • Maximum of 5 XMLs per third-party served VAST tag.

Video Ad

Technical Specifications

Attributes (Site Served)

Video Requirements: Must be uploaded to YouTube (send Video URL)
Must allow embedding
Must be public or unlisted
True streaming is not allowed
Minimum Video Length: 12 seconds (for skippable ads)
Maximum Video Length: Up to 60 seconds (skippable ads)
15 seconds or 30 seconds (non-skippable ads)
20 seconds or 30 seconds (non-skippable ads, EMEA, India, Malaysia, and Singapore only)
 

Formatting for Third-Party Served (VAST-Compliant)

Format: H.264 (MP4) and WebM video file types must all be included within each video creative (other formats may be included but may not be used)
Aspect Ratio - Sample Resolution: 16:9 - 1920x1080 is recommended. 640x360 and 1280x720 are acceptable.
4:3 - 480x360, 720x540, 960x720 are also acceptable.
Audio Format: MP3 or AAC preferred
Frames per second: 30
Maximum file size: 10 MB
Requirements: Must comply with YouTube's XML summary for VAST ad server response
Must be SSL-compliant
Only VAST 3.0 tags are supported for skippable video ads.
Must be served via a linear VAST tag (pre-fetch tag) by a YouTube-approved vendor.
Must NOT have geo, browser or any other targeting on the third party end.
Please ensure your ad server returns a valid crossdomain.xml file. If you choose to explicitly list domains, please ensure all ad serving domains are included.
VAST-served video ads are not eligible to run on mobile web, game consoles or connected TV devices.
Only VAST 2.0 and higher is supported.
VPAID is not allowed on YouTube

Resizing your video based on YouTube's best practices recommendations before uploading it will help your videos look better on YouTube.

Please reference our help pages on how to upload your video, accepted file formats, and optimizing your video.

If you would like your video to not be viewable or searchable to the public outside of the ad, you can make it unlisted by following the instructions here.

Compatible Browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 10+, Firefox 25+, Safari 6+; Chrome 33+

Reporting Metrics

  • Video Impressions
  • Video Click Through
  • Video Quartiles (First, Midpoint, Third, Complete)
  • "Skip" button clicks (for skippable ads)
  • Video Pauses

Third-Party Capabilities

SSL capability is required! All impression tracking pixel URLs must begin with HTTPS:// More information here.
  • Third-party click redirect or click command accepted for Video Click Through
  • 1 x 1 pixel tracking can be implemented for all other metrics listed above
  • Maximum of 3 third party impression pixels allowed per third-party served VAST XML

We will only accept third party redirect/tracking pixel from a certified Ad Serving Vendor. Please refer to the full list of approved vendors.

Research

  • Can accept research tracking tags except for YouTube Mobile or Leanback apps
  • No pop-ups, layers, or other out-of-banner formats are allowed
  • JavaScript pixels are not allowed

Remarketing

  • Allowed for skippable ads only
  • Only one AdWords pixel allowed
  • Can be implemented on the Complete event only

Companion Display Ad - Optional

Companion banners are optional and can be omitted from video ads. If you choose to include companion banners, be aware that they’ll display only in certain cases, for example, if the banners are viewed in the context of a watch page on YouTube. They do not appear on mobile devices, embedded players, connected TVs, or on game consoles.

  • YouTube is aware of ad delivery issues with some companion units (300x250s & 300x60s) due to the nature of how VAST is requested and rendered by the IMA SDK. As a result, companion banners may not always appear. Please note that the unit itself is not billed upon and not guaranteed. We are working to resolve these issues as soon as possible.

Companion banners can be site-served, third-party served or VAST-served. For the full list of specs please visit this page. If a companion ad is not provided, no other advertiser's ad will appear next to your video ads.

In some cases, if a companion creative is not supplied and the ad is a public YouTube hosted video, a companion will be automatically generated which includes information about the channel hosting the video ad. The automatically generated companion links to the channel, and will include the channel icon and name, and thumbnails of up to 5 videos from the most recently updated playlist on that channel.