Research Outline

YouTube Advertising Best Practices


To obtain information on the best practices for advertising on YouTube.

Early Findings

The initial round of research indicates that there is a wealth of information available on this topic. Details on our early findings have been provided below.

Keep it Short

  • While commercials that are up to two minutes long might work for television, they will not perform well on YouTube. Advertisers on YouTube need to keep things short so that they do not hold users captive.
  • According to Logical Media Group, a Google partner, it is the best practice to keep YouTube ads between 5 to 60 seconds long.
  • Metric Theory recommends keeping YouTube "video ads between 15 and 60 seconds". Generally, keeping it below 60 seconds is preferable. Advertisers do not need to worry about their ads being too short. The purpose of YouTube advertising is to pique interest.
  • YouTube ads are not meant to explain the entire business. Therefore, brands should grab people’s attention quickly and fill them in on the details when they visit the business's landing page.

Capture Attention, Relate, and Associate

  • Even more important than keeping the ad length short is how a brand uses the time it has with its YouTube audience. The first thing an ad should do is to captivate the audience quickly. This could "mean using upbeat music, utilizing a recognizable influencer or celebrity, posing a compelling question, or using humor, among many other possible ideas."
  • An advertiser might have 60 seconds for their video ad, but it is unlikely that users will stay focused on the ad for that long. Users can skip a YouTube in-stream ad after 5 seconds. Therefore, brands have just 5 seconds to convince viewers to continue watching.
  • It is the best practice to deliver an ad with content that is "better than the organic content they intended to watch." Advertisers need to treat the first 5 seconds of their video script as gold. Within the first five seconds, advertisers should be sure to mention the following: the company, the service or product, what it does, and why people need it.
  • After capturing the audience's attention, a YouTube ad should relate to them. Advertisers should empathize with their pain points and needs. Characters and scenes they are likely to identify with should be used.
  • Finally, advertisers who leverage YouTube should associate their brand as the solution to a pain point or need. This can be done simply by adding a logo in the corner of an ad. However, it is important to find a way to creatively place the company's "name or logo more naturally in the video – on a package if [it is] a retail brand, or an application interface for software."

Talking Heads

  • For business-to-business (B2B) brands, YouTube ads can be used to demonstrate thought leadership and knowledge. This approach usually "works best as a Discovery format" because it gives a brand more time to share its ideas. A YouTube channel can be created to provide tricks and tips, best practices, and any other content that a brand's ideal customers would find useful.

Show Off Products

  • Video ads are the best way to show a brand's product in action. Through this means, users can get more information within "a shorter time frame than they would from a blog post or text-based ad." By leveraging product demos and how-to guides, brands can build trust by addressing pain points recommending possible solutions.
  • This tactic has yielded remarkable results for several brands. For instance, Adobe found that "users who watched demos were 180% more likely to make a purchase than those that didn’t opt into the video." Also, "Animoto found that 4x as many customers prefer to watch a video about a product than read an article about it."

Leverage Storytelling

  • Movie trailers usually attract viewers through storytelling by "offering just enough plot to spark some curiosity." By leveraging storytelling ads, brands can achieve a similar result and stir up interest in their offerings enough to get their users to visit their website, check out their channel, or share their videos.


  • As information was widely available on this topic, the initial research was able to uncover several best practices for creating and running advertising campaigns on Youtube. For a deeper dive, we have suggested paths for further research in our proposals below.
  • Since YouTube is a global online video platform, our background search had a global focus. We would maintain this geographic scope in our further research. However, if a different approach is desired (for instance, a US focus), this would have to be communicated to us in a reply.