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TrueView in-stream ads

How TrueView in-stream ads work

TrueView in-stream ads run on videos served on YouTube or on a collection of sites and apps in the Google Display Network (GDN). These ads may also run on YouTube videos that are embedded on other sites or apps. They can also appear on Android and iOS YouTube apps, m.youtube.com (on iPad and Android), and on connected TVs.

Viewers can choose to skip the video ad after 5 seconds. If they choose not to skip the video ad, the YouTube video view count will be incremented when the viewer watches 30 seconds of the video ad (or the duration if it's shorter than 30 seconds) or engages with your video, whichever comes first. Video interactions include clicks to visit your website, call-to-action overlays (CTAs), cards, and companion banners. If view counts on YouTube are a concern, it's a good idea to make videos at least 12 seconds long. YouTube analytics doesn’t track views less than 10 seconds.

TrueView in-stream ads can be created using AdWords.

VPAID is not allowed on YouTube.

Assets overview

  Required/Optional TrueView auction
Where ads appear N/A YouTube videos
Video partner sites and apps on the Display Network
YouTube video URL Required The video must be uploaded to YouTube
Companion Optional, YouTube or GDN
  • 300x60 JPG, static GIF, or PNG
  • See the full specs.
  • 300x250 video wall will show on YouTube if no companion ad is provided.
  • 150 KB (50KB max for non-skippable video)
Display URL Required Required by AdWords UI. The domain will show on the live video.
Final URL Required The destination can be your website or YouTube video or channel.

YouTube video settings

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 recommended (in order for public viewcounts to be incremented)
Maximum video length: Less than 3 minutes recommended

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 be non-browsable or non-searchable to the public, separate from the ad, you can unlist your video.

Video ad settings

File format: AVI, ASF, Quicktime, Windows Media, MP4, or MPEG
      Preferred video codec: H.264, MPEG-2, or MPEG-4
      Preferred audio codec: MP3 or AAC
Resolution: 640x360 (16:9) or 480x360 (4:3) recommended
Frame rate: 30 FPS
Aspect ratio: Native aspect ratio without letter-boxing (examples: 4:3, 16:9)
Maximum file size: 1 GB
Click-throughs: A third-party click redirect or click command is acceptable.

Reporting metrics and third-party tracking

Tracking within YouTube video content

Including third-party tracking pixels is optional. However, if you include them, they must meet requirements for third-party ad serving. They must also follow these requirements:

  • Impressions: 1x1 tracking pixel accepted
  • All tracking pixels and any fourth-party calls made within the pixels from daisy-chaining must be SSL-compliant.
  • 1x1 image pixels are allowed on the impression, view, and skip events, but not midpoint and complete events.
  • To include more than one vendor's tracking per event, the client or agency is responsible for piggybacking or daisy-chaining the pixels because only one 1x1 image pixel per event is allowed. JavaScript is not allowed.

Companion banner ads (optional)

If a companion ad isn't provided, no other advertiser's ad will appear next to your pre-roll. When comparing video impressions with companion impressions remember that companion banner ads are not served on all YouTube pages where in-stream ads are served

Companion banners won't show for in-stream ads shown to users watching videos on YouTube Leanback, whether on GoogleTV or in their browser.


Call-to-action (CTA) overlays

CTA overlays are provided for TrueView in-stream ads and in-stream ads bought on reserve in Google AdWords.

cta_desktop cta_mobile

Assets overview

  • Headline text: 1 line of 25 characters maximum (any more than 25 will be truncated on some devices)
  • Display URL: The URL displayed to the users on the overlay
  • Destination URL: The URL to which the overlay links. Can be a redirect and/or link to an external site.
  • Thumbnail:
    • Thumbnails must be hosted on YouTube.
    • JPG or GIF only
    • 74x74 pixels

How CTA overlays work

The CTA overlay appears as soon as the video starts playing, and then collapses to show just the thumbnail image after 15 seconds. On desktop browsers, viewers can hover to expand the CTA. On mobile browsers, viewers can click the thumbnail image or arrow to expand it.

Expanded CTA Collapsed CTA
cta_expanded cta_collapsed

Learn more about CTA overlays.