20th November 2020

POV: YouTube Audio Ads


YouTube has launched audio ads, the platform’s first ad format without a video component and designed to reach the increasing number of people who are using the platform for ambient listening.

Details and Implications:

YouTube’s audio ads will take the form of a voiceover to deliver the message of the ad with a static image or simple animation viewable on the screen. Audio ads are now in beta and can be bought via auction with Google Ads and Display & Video 360 on a cost-per-thousand basis.

As people have been spending more time at home, YouTube has suggested that these ads are aimed at the increasing number of users who might have content playing in the background and only glance at the screen occasionally. Whether this is music, podcasts or other audio-focused content.

YouTube has said that music streaming on the platform is at an all-time high, with 50% of its logged-in users who consume music doing so for at least 10 minutes a day and 2 billion of its logged-in users watching at least one music video each month. Comparatively, YouTube premium subscriber numbers are relatively small, sitting at just 30 million (and rising to 35 million with users taking advantage of free trials).

YouTube has also announced the launch of dynamic music line ups – the ability to contextually target on the platform by finding the ideal mix of content for your audience and brand sentiment. These lineups can be focused on genres such as K-pop, Latin music or top 100 charts or they can focus on an interest such as fitness. The same target audience options, bidding strategies and brand safety features that are currently available for video ads will be available for the audio ads.

According to YouTube, during testing of this new ad format 75% of measured audio ad campaigns drove a significant lift in brand awareness. It will give advertisers a new opportunity to use audio as the primary means to communicate their message and reach and engage consumers at moments where they are taking a more passive approach to content. The company also says the benefits of audio ads are efficient reach at a low cost, simplified media buying process, enhanced targeting and measurement features and lower production costs.


YouTube is a video content platform so it is interesting to see how this new ad format will take shape. It will hope that its lineups update and its free trial push for users will see more consumers consider YouTube as a music platform. At the moment it is still a video platform with an audio capability, so It will be interesting to see how much it can rival pure music players such as Spotify in the future. At the very least, this adds another option for marketers using the platform and opens up the possibility of easily porting audio ads used elsewhere to YouTube.

Further Reading

Search Engine Journal | The Drum | Campaign | Google

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