Among the social media titans on the market today, YouTube is the vanguard platform. It’s been around since 2005, long before Facebook gained serious momentum, and it is still an essential part of any social media advertising mix.

An important step for success in YouTube advertising is to craft an ad with the correct YouTube ad specifications.

By using the correct YouTube ad specs, you will deliver a much clearer message to your audience. A well-composed video could go viral and launch your brand’s recognition into the stratosphere.

Remember to optimize your YouTube advertising by also adjusting the content to suit the online viewer preferences (Does you audience watch videos on desktop or mobile?).

To help you with your YouTube advertising, we’ve outlined YouTube’s ad specifications below.

Types of YouTube ads

Related: How to advertise on YouTube


Overlay ads     Back to top

YouTube-Overlay-Ad-2

Overlay image: required

  • Unit: 480 pixels by 70 pixels
  • File type: static GIF, PNG, JPG
  • File size: 150KB

Companion banner: optional

  • Unit: 300 pixels by 250 pixels
  • File type: GIF, PNG, JPG
  • File size: 150KB

Think of discovery ads as an online billboards of sorts. These are generally static images or have very minimal movement and animation to them. They appear either to the side of the video or as an overlay on the bottom of the video. They’re good to include in your YouTube advertising mix because they’re less expensive than other ad forms like those that appear before or during videos.

Since they don’t directly interfere with user activity on the site, users might also respond better to their presence. A potential drawback could be that some users have a tendency to tune out these kinds of ads, but a truly great ad can break through the clutter. Whatever size or format you choose is up to you, just make sure that the content is optimized for the ad format and that there is a clear call-to-action for consumers to respond to.

Related: Check out how much your YouTube advertising will cost.


YouTube-sponsored-card-ad

  • Platform: Desktop and mobile devices
  • Media: image
  • Format: JPG, PNG, GIF
  • Aspect Ratio: 1:1
  • Length: 15 or 20 seconds
  • File Size: 2MB max

One of the newer additions to YouTube’s ad arsenal is the sponsored card. How it works is that users will see a brief “teaser” for the sponsored card. After a few seconds, the teaser is replaced by a card icon. Appearing in the upper right-hand corner of the video they are currently watching, the icon gives users the choice of clicking through to access further information about the sponsored content. In that sense, it is similar to display ads except where it’s located and how it functions differs slightly. The commonality among them is the ever critical call-to-action.

Related: Specificity is key — here's how to determine your YouTube ad groups.


Bumper ads     Back to top

YouTube-non-skippable-ad-format

Assets overview

  • Where they appear: YouTube videos and video partner sites and apps on the display network
  • Companion: 300 pixels by 60 pixels .jpg, static .gif or .png; 300 pixels by 250 pixels video wall will show on YouTube if no companion ad is provided
    • Maximum file size: 1KB

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: 640 pixels by 360 pixels or 480 pixels by 360 pixels recommended
  • Frame rate: 30 FPS
  • Aspect ratio: native aspect ratio without letter-boxing (examples: 4:3, 16:9)
  • Maximum file size: 1GB
  • Length: 6 seconds

A bumper ad is a non-skippable video ad format created to extend the reach of a campaign. It appears before the video the user has chosen to view. Sold on a CPM basis, Bumper ads perform well on mobile devices. Maximum video length is 6 seconds.

Related: Learn how to create a budget to advertise on YouTube.


Standard display ads     Back to top

YouTube-Discovery-ad-2

Technical specifications

  • Dimensions:
    • 300 pixels by 250 pixels
    • 300 pixels by 60 pixels (YouTube Reserve companions)
    • 300 pixels by 600 pixels (Zagat only)
  • Formats: GIF, JPG, PNG
  • Maximum file size: 150KB
  • Maximum animation time: 30 seconds (all animations, including loops, must stop at 30 seconds)
  • Audio: no sound
  • Border: creatives with partially black or white backgrounds must have a visible border of a contrasting color

Related: A step-by-step guide to organizing your YouTube ad groups.


TrueView video discovery ads     Back to top

Discovery-ads-examples

Assets overview

  • Video URL: must be uploaded to YouTube
  • Image: Choose from 4 autogenerated thumbnails
  • Headline: 25 characters maximum
  • Description: two lines 35 characters maximum

Video ad settings

  • Platform: Desktop and mobile
  • 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: 640 pixels by 360 pixels or 480 pixels by 360 pixels recommended
  • Frame rate: 30 FPS
  • Aspect ratio: native aspect ratio without letter-boxing (examples 4:3, 16:9)
  • Maximum file size: 1GB

TrueView ads run before content on YouTube and the display network.

Related: Determining ad groups for your YouTube campaign.


TrueView in-stream non-skippable ads     Back to top

YouTube-non-skippable-ad-format

Assets overview

  • Where they appear: YouTube videos and video partner sites and apps on the display network
  • Companion: 300 pixels by 60 pixels .jpg, static .gif or .png; 300 pixels by 250 pixels video wall will show on YouTube if no companion ad is provided
    • Maximum file size: 1KB

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: 640 pixels by 360 pixels or 480 pixels by 360 pixels recommended
  • Frame rate: 30 FPS
  • Aspect ratio: native aspect ratio without letter-boxing (examples: 4:3, 16:9)
  • Maximum file size: 1GB
  • Length: 15 or 20 seconds for non-skippable; 20 seconds for long non-skippable

Scheduled to be eliminated in 2018, these ads play in the video player and last anywhere from 15, 20 to 30 seconds in length. Non-skippable video ads appear before the selected video and much be watched in its entirety before the video can be viewed.

Related: Check out six tips to help you be successful with YouTube advertising.


TrueView in-stream skippable ads     Back to top

YouTube-skippable-ad-format

Assets overview

  • Where they appear: YouTube videos and video partner sites and apps on the display network
  • Companion: 300 pixels by 60 pixels .jpg, static .gif or .png; 300 pixels by 250 pixels video wall will show on YouTube if no companion ad is provided
    • Maximum file size: 1KB

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: 640 pixels by 360 pixels or 480 pixels by 360 pixels recommended
  • Frame rate: 30 FPS
  • Aspect ratio: native aspect ratio without letter-boxing (examples: 4:3, 16:9)
  • Maximum file size: 1GB
  • Length: 12 seconds to 3 minutes

Skippable video ads allow viewers to skip ads after 5 seconds and move on to their viewing selection.

Social media ad dimensions

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Lynn Pedotto

Lynn Pedotto

Lynn Pedotto is a writer who holds an MS from Medill. In addition to covering all things social, she’s a policy wonk who loves to write about government.