News & Insights


A guide to non-skippable video ads and reservation based YouTube ads

pwd staff OLIVER WOOD
Oliver Wood

|19th May 2017

The next instalment of our Digital Decisions series made its way to Google headquarters in Sydney, and what a turn out it was! With an interest from business owners all over town, we extended our stay to host 2 full capacity events.

If you love online video content, you probably spend a significant amount of time enjoying YouTube and you’re not alone.

YouTube now has over a billion users, almost a third of all internet users and advertisers have started to recognize the power of YouTube ads for their digital marketing. Many websites on Google’s GDN also support video ads and with display advertising, you can reach an even wider internet audience.

More businesses have been embracing video advertising and 48% of marketers plan to integrate YouTube into their strategies in the coming year:

Most advertisers, who have recently commenced their foray into the world of YouTube ads and GDN video ads, will already be familiar with the following ad types:

True View In-Stream ads –

The pre-roll video ads that are skippable after 5 seconds:


Ideal for brand awareness and pushing traffic to your site thanks to the CTAs.

True View Discovery ads –

The thumbnail ads that appear in YouTube search or alongside other videos.

Digital-Monopoly-A-Guide-To-Non-Skippable-Video-Ads-1-300x131Ideal for promoting your other, longer videos and building subscribers.

Overlay ads –

The text or image ads that appear as overlays on other videos.


Ideal for pushing traffic to your website.

These YouTube ad types are a perfect addition to your AdWords campaign but they are not the only video ads you can use.


Anyone who has spent enough time watching back to back videos on YouTube will have encountered the phenomenon of non-skippable ads:

As you can see from the screen shot below there is no skip option even after watching for 5 seconds. Viewers must watch the entire ad before they can view their desired video.


This is obviously a desirable ad type for advertisers.

Some advertisers find it difficult to get an effective message across in less than 5 seconds. While you don’t get charged until viewers have watched for 30 seconds or more (or the whole video if it is less than 30 seconds), we know that a huge proportion of people are going to skip. In spite of excellent targeting options for video ads, including region, demographics, behaviour, interests, remarketing and similar audiences to name a few, it is just human nature to avoid ads even if they are relevant and might benefit us.

It is, therefore, easy to see why advertisers who have invested in creating beautiful videos would want their ads to be non-skippable.

Types of non-skippable ads

There are several different varieties of non-skippable video ads for advertisers to explore.

15 second non-skippable ads

These ads can be up to 15 or 20 seconds (depending on your region) but are often much shorter. Google AdWords advises keeping video ads short and sweet, so as not to negatively impact viewer experience. AdWords brought out this ad type as the perfect option for TV advertisers who were looking to break into an online market.

Longer non-skippable ads

For some advertisers, 20 seconds just wasn’t enough, so Google included longer ads but these could only be created by contacting a Google AdWords rep.

Bumper ads

These are the newest variety of non-skippable ads and are only 6 seconds long. They are easily created within AdWords video campaigns.


You have the option to choose Bumpers ads, skippable True View In-Stream ads or True View Discovery ads in the AdWords video campaigns section.

While bumper ads are very easy to create, they are only one second longer than the skip time of a skippable ad. This is a very narrow window for enticing viewers.

Take a look at our recent blog on 4 easy ways to create YouTube ads to find out more about skippable in-stream, discovery and bumper ads.

How to create a non-skippable in-stream ad

Many who are new to video advertising will be curious about how to create non-skippable ads for YouTube and the GDN but may struggle to discover the process.

You would logically think that non-skippable ads should be an option in AdWords video campaigns but it isn’t.

Instead advertisers would first have to create a display network campaign that targeted YouTube as a placement:

This can be done by heading to the display network tab:


Selecting the red + targeting button:


Then select your chosen AdGroup:


Click add targeting and select placements:


Now search for and add it as your placement:


To create the ad, you would have then needed to select + Ad, then clicked the Ad Gallery option:


From here advertisers could select video ads:


The option provided is an in-stream video ad but you will notice from the description it is a 15 – 20 second non-skippable ad:


It sounds easy enough but why hide non-skippable ads away in the display campaign settings and not in video ads?

Instructions on how to create your own non-skippable ads direct from Google AdWords are notoriously hard to find. They are absent from the Google AdWords’ video ad formats page and Google searches will lead would-be advertisers to the YouTube description of non-skippable ads, which does not tell you how to create them.

Do Google and YouTube want to discourage non-skippable ads?

Since very short non-skippable ads (bumper ads) are easily located in the video campaign settings and longer non-skippable ads are harder to find, you would not be blamed for thinking Google and YouTube are trying to discourage longer non-skippable ads.

YouTube publishers looking to monetise their content with non-skippable ads also face challenges. They cannot manually enable non-skippable ads to show in their videos from the monetisation settings in YouTube. Instead the YouTubers must request this from YouTube reps by completing a form:


If you are trying to find this form for your channel follow this link:

Non-skippable ads request.

YouTube also very clearly states that “non-skippable in-stream ads may generate higher revenue than other ad formats but they also have a higher abandonment rate.” This could put a lot of YouTube channels off the idea of allowing non-skippable ads to be hosted.

One could previously have argued that Google AdWords and YouTube’s slightly convoluted systems were not enough to indicate that they do not like non-skippable ads.

However, some very recent changes have made creating non-skippable ads for YouTube harder.

Recent changes to non-skippable ads

Google recently announced that it would be discontinuing 30-second-long non-skippable ads for YouTube by 2018.

This may be discouraging for many advertisers. Google claims that users want shorter ads and longer ads cause a higher abandonment rate, however in April last year they released the following video which seemed to show that longer videos were better for customer brand relationships:

On top of this, the once easy to create 15 second non-skippable ads, have also faced an overhaul. These ads were once just like True View in-stream ads except that they are non-skippable. They could easily be created to function as YouTube ads from within Google AdWords, as we demonstrated above.

Sadly, as of October 2016 that all changed. True View video ads created in the ad gallery are now, supposedly, no longer available according to Google AdWords:


Strangely the option still appears in the back end of AdWords as you can see from our screen shots.


This notice from Google comes along with another announcement, which states that they are “reducing inventory on YouTube for non-skippable in-stream ads that are bought via the AdWords auction. By early 2017, these ads will no longer run on YouTube. They’ll continue to run on video partner sites on the Display Network, if selected in the Network settings.”


It is good to see 15 second non-skippable ads are still ‘up for grabs’ on the GDN but for advertisers hoping to tap into the billion YouTube viewers it is a major disappointment.

Does this mean there will be no more non-skippable YouTube ads longer than six seconds?

Fortunately, non-skippable ads of 15 seconds are still going strong and you can find them all over YouTube. The main difference is that advertisers will soon be unable to create them within Google AdWords, but must purchase them via a reservation basis rather than the AdWords auction.

Reservation based ads

Skippable ads, bumper ads and discovery ads can be created in Google AdWords and advertisers pay CPV. With reservation based ads advertisers can pay CPM on a set budget or CPD (cost per day) and instead of running the ads themselves via AdWords you must contact an AdWords rep who controls the process.

While some advertisers might miss the AdWords auction option for non-skippable ads, the reservation process does have advantages. By allowing Google AdWords specialists to control the campaign, you receive expert management and weekly campaign performance reporting.

Non-skippable 15 second ads and skippable ads up to 60 seconds are both available via reservation. Google claims that another additional benefit is that the ads have greater visibility.

Why have non-skippable ads changed?

When it comes to the demise of the 30 second ads Google claimed that they were “committed to providing a better ads experience for users online” and wanted to “focus instead on formats that work well for both users and advertisers”.

This suggests that data was showing user dissatisfaction with the longer non-skippable ads, despite their popularity with advertisers.

This makes perfect sense since as users and customers ourselves, we can understand the dislike of intrusive ads that prevent us from viewing the content we are there to see.

Many YouTube users resort to ad blockers in an attempt to disable all YouTube ads.

However, this does not explain the decision to make 15 second ads only available by reservation and not auction.

We can currently only speculate but only allowing reservation based non-skippable ads will prevent many businesses with smaller budgets from bothering. Reservation based ads have a minimum spend requirement and require extra planning.

CPM campaigns need to be booked with AdWords reps a minimum of six business days in advance, with all creatives delivered four business days before the campaign start date. With CPD campaigns the booking must be made at least two weeks in advance with creatives delivered nine business days in advance.

Non-skippable YouTube ads longer than six second bumper ads are now likely to cost a lot more and involve more outside interference and planning. Advertisers will have to have a sizable budget in place and be committed to the campaign rather than experiment with small budgets to see which formats works best for them. It is easy to guess that many lower budget businesses will abandon non-skippable ads and opt for the True View in-stream skippable ads instead or settle for bumper ads.

This drop in advertisers choosing non-skippable ads would achieve YouTube’s goal of reducing non-skippable ad inventory, as per their recent announcement.

While this is probably welcomed by YouTube viewers it does seem a little unkind to advertisers. Considering the recent YouTube advertisers boycott, due to ads showing alongside inappropriate content, one would think YouTube and Google would want to gain favour with advertisers.

However, despite the boycott, Google’s ad revenue continues to rise and it is not all bad news. In the past longer YouTube ads may have worked for advertisers but users are increasingly impatient and YouTube channels need to avoid high abandonment rates. Recent research shows that bumper ads have been a big success.

Google claims bumper ads create a 70% lift in brand awareness for advertisers. It is tempting to try and force the audience to watch our ads, that is what advertising is all about but if we make users unhappy they will have a negative bias against the product or service. Advertisers should always try to make the audience happy, not punish them. This is the true key to a good customer relationship, positive brand association and therefore conversions.

This is somewhat reassuring and of course, advertisers have even more options at their fingertips than just non-skippable video ads, skippable video ads and discovery ads. For larger companies looking to make a splash on YouTube, reservation based ads also offer the masthead ads.

YouTube masthead ads

If you spend time on YouTube you may have noticed large image or video ads taking up the top of the YouTube homepage. This is a masthead ad. Advertisers can reserve this space on the YouTube homepage for an entire day.

Advertisers have the option of desktop mastheads, custom desktop mastheads and mobile mastheads. The masthead is 970 x 250 pixels and spans the width of the YouTube homepage, which is ideal for brand awareness and very high visibility.


Advertisers report YouTube masthead ads cost a minimum of $300,000, so they are a significant investment but for large companies those billion YouTube viewers could be well worth it. To apply for a masthead ad on YouTube advertisers must first call the Google sales team for a consultation.

Even more advertising options

With all these skippable, non-skippable, auction and reservation based ad formats, advertisers are spoiled for choice when it comes to YouTube ads.

With more businesses looking to invest in video advertising now is a good time to get in the game before costs rise with the influx of new advertisers.

We have had to say goodbye to some old favourite ad formats but Google is testing which ads work for users all the time and are regularly bringing out new ad formats.

If your video content is highly popular and you are looking to take video marketing to the next level take a look at the amusing video below to discover Google Preferred: