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Over 1.9 billion logged-in users visit YouTube each month, and every day users watch over a billion hours of video, generating billions of views. For businesses, these attentive eyes present a great opportunity to leverage video as an advertising medium. The success of the video ad campaign is often reliant on the video itself. So before you embark on your next video production project, check out these pointers on producing an impactful YouTube ad.

Tell a Story

Gone are the days of traditional, slow-build storytelling; no one’s got time for that. It’s a recipe for skipping ahead. Great YouTube ads follow the ‘Emerging Digital Story Arc’. Rather than building up the story slowly, the new storytelling arc starts high right from the jump, reveals the climax, and then maintains connection throughout the video.

Compelling YouTube ads typically have 4 features in common: 

  1. Attract – Start high with a hook or problem statement to grab attention right off the bat.
  2. Brand – Use natural and intentional branding to reveal the climax or introduce how the brand can be used as a solution to the proposed problem.
  3. Connect – Maintain attention while explaining benefits and features with emotion, audio and fast pacing.
  4. Direct – Make it clear what action the audience should take.

Call Viewers to Act

The TrueView for Action ad format features two clickable buttons: an end card and a call-to-action button (customizable text button of 10 characters max). Your audio should also tell the listener exactly what action to take. Consider repeating the call-to-action in the voiceover, graphics, and text overlays. 

For example, your voiceover could mention that you offer free quotes, your CTA button could say FREE QUOTE, and your video graphics could also highlight your free quote offer. 

Check out Grammarly’s ad “enhance your writing”. The free online service for grammar checking uses the call-to-action button with text “IT’S FREE,” plus a text overlay throughout the entire video reads “download for free,” AND the actors mention it, too. 

Win the First 5 Seconds

You only have 5 seconds to capture the viewer’s attention, otherwise they’ll skip over your ad as soon as the button appears. Either propose a problem, be entertaining, or present an offer. Don’t make the viewers wait for the good stuff. 

For example, in the ad “how to use a raw egg to determine if your mattress is awful”  Purple Mattress captures listeners’ attention by proposing a problem in an entertaining way and mentions how they can solve that problem in the first 5 seconds. 

Use Short, Sweet, and Fast Content

We have short attention spans, so quick cuts and a fast pace are critical. Test different ad lengths as well. Consider shortening your 30 second view to 15 seconds and test out the variations, measuring the difference in results. 

A great example of this is by Monday.com, in their ad, “what using monday.com feels like”. The video uses short, sweet, and fast content to engage their viewers. Within the first second, they already cut through 7 different clips and by 5 seconds they were entertaining and revealed the product at the same time, branded it and provided an interesting resolution. 

Make It For Mobile First

More than 70% of YouTube watch time comes from mobile devices. There’s no surprise that your ad should be edited for a mobile screen first. Below are some overall guiding principles to keep in mind when editing for a mobile screen:


  • Cropped Videos


It’s easy to tell the difference between the uncropped and cropped video. Close cropping in on faces and key details help make the footage pop on small screens. Zooming in on faces emphasizes expression and intimacy make it easier for the viewer to connect with the story.

  • Large Text and Graphics


Using large text and graphics on a mobile screen is important to make sure the text stands out on a small screen.

  • Bright Footage

A lot of mobile device users have their phone screens dimmed. Make sure your footage is bright enough so it pops even on a dim screen. 

  • Placement

Of course placement is important as well. Making sure to place zoomed in faces or the video’s focal point in the blue box, while avoiding the corners.

So to recap the main takeaways: Ensure that your creative either establishes a need for the product or introduces the product heroically as a desirable solution within the first 5 seconds.The second major takeaway is to ensure your creative is optimized for a mobile environment. Also, don’t forget to experiment with new content often. It’s important to test new creative to see what performs better with your audience. By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to having a great, unskippable Youtube ad.

Need more convincing? Check out these tips straight from Google:

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