InStream video ads

How YouTube InStream Ads Work

YouTube In-Stream Ads can run in video players appearing on YouTube watch pages and channel pages with featured videos. In addition to www.youtube.com, these ads may run on YouTube's mobile, connected TV, and game console properties, as well as the Google Video network and embedded YouTube players. Standard In-Stream Ads can be a maximum of 15 seconds (20 seconds in EMEA, 60 seconds skippable). Non-skippable In-Stream Ads that are 30 seconds long are allowed on a sub-set of inventory and cannot be used in the First Watch product.

The 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 when the ad has been watched completely. Non-skippable ads do not increment the view count.

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

Keep in mind

Companion banners are optional and can be omitted from in-stream 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.

Assets Overview

Asset Optional/Required File Type Comments / Details

 Site Served

Video URL Required Must upload Video to YouTube (see guidelines below and help link for uploading Videos)  
Click-through URL Required Must provide a destination URL (can be 3rd party URL) for InStream video  
Companion Banner Optional JPG, GIF, SWF 150Kb max size
Up to 24 fps
30 seconds max animation time (user-initiated / autoplay allowed)

 Third-Party Served

Video Ad Required VAST Tag - H.264 (MP4), FlashVideo (FLV) and WebM video file types must all be included within each video creative (other formats may be included but will 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.

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.
  • 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 only)
 

Formatting for Third-Party Served (VAST-Compliant)

Format: H.264 (MP4), FlashVideo (FLV), and WebM video file types must all be included within each video creative (other formats may be included but will not be used)
Aspect Ratio - Sample Resolution: 16:9 - 640x360, 1280x720, 1920x1080 (recommended)
4:3 - 480x360, 720x540, 960x720
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
Can not be skippable
Must be served via a linear VAST tag (pre-fetch tag) by a YouTube-approved vendor
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 InStream ads are not eligible to run on mobile, tablets, game consoles or connected TV devices.

Resizing your video based on YouTube's best practices recommendations before uploading it will help your videos look better on YouTube. Guidelines for video upload are available via the YouTube Help Center.

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.

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

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 on Third-Party VAST

Remarketing

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

Additional Details and Recommendations

  • A semi-transparent time bar is placed over the bottom 23px of the video, which may obscure its content. Please take this into consideration when creating your video and refrain from including any essential elements in this space.
  • UI conceals 5 pixels of InStream on all InStream ads
  • 18 pixels of the video are semi-transparent for all InStream ads
  • 23 pixels of the video are semi-transparent on Android App in the portrait mode and 60 pixels in the landscape mode

Companion Display Ad - Optional

Companion banners are optional and can be omitted from in-stream 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.

Technical Specifications

Formatting

Dimensions: 300x60
Formats: GIF, JPG, SWF (with backup GIF/JPG), Rich Media
Flash Versions: Up to Flash Player 11.5 (SWF 18, AS3 or lower)
Frames Per Second: Up to 24 fps
Maximum File Size 150 Kb

Attributes

Maximum Animation Time: 30 seconds (host-initiated/auto-play allowed)
Audio: No sound
Border: Backup images with partially black or white backgrounds must have a visible border of a contrasting color and should not have a close button.
Mouseover Policy Effects must be user-initiated (rollover or click). For a complete explanation, please see our Mouseover Policy here.
SSL Third-party and VAST-served companions must be SSL-compliant.
Companion ads that don’t meet this requirement will not serve.

Reporting Metrics

  • Ad impressions (not supported for companions served via VAST)
  • Clicks and click-through rate (not supported for companions served via VAST)

Third-Party Capabilities

Note: SSL capability is required! All impression tracking pixel URLs must begin with HTTPS:// More information here.

  • Accept third-party impression (1x1) tracking
  • Accept third-party click tracker
  • Accept third-party tag, can be third-party served (VAST)

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

Research

  • Can accept a survey invitation banner for brand-lift/ad effectiveness studies as the companion ad
  • No pop-ups, layers, or other out-of-banner formats are allowed

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

Additional Details and Recommendations

  • If companion display is not provided, no other advertiser's creative will appear next to your pre-roll.
  • If submitting SWF assets, please see how to implement clickTags.