How Long Should a YouTube Ad be?

A common question we get from clients is “How long should a YouTube ad be?” Maybe you’re just starting to use YouTube ads for your business, or you’ve been trying them out for a while, and you’re just not sure you are doing it right.

In this post, we’re covering everything you need to know about the length of in-stream YouTube ads, and how to choose what’s right for you.

We’ll also cover the five core elements of a successful YouTube ad, regardless of length.

How long should a YouTube ad be?

The short answer is: your ad should be as long as it needs to be in order to get your message across effectively.

The long answer is: it depends on your strengths.

If you can get your message across quickly and effectively, and that works well for you, take advantage of shorter videos.

If you’re comfortable in front of the camera and have more of a Sam Owen style – giving a ton of valuable information with calls-to-action once in a while – then utilize longer videos.

Benefits of shorter and longer videos

It is important to find the right balance of length that works well for you.

With short videos you:

  • Can easily write a short, effective script
  • Have less chance of making errors
  • Get in front of the camera more easily
  • Make more videos

With longer videos you can:

  • Educate and connect with your audience
  • Get highly qualified leads
  • Build loyal subscribers/fans

If someone is willing to watch your video for 10 minutes, they’re going to be someone who’s really interested in what you’re offering.

But the catch with longer videos is that you have more time to bore them which leads to zero leads – if you waste their time they waste your time and money.

So, if you choose to go with longer ads, be sure you’re able to hold the audience’s attention for an extended period.

What is a good baseline length for a YouTube video ad?

If you’re not comfortable enough in front of the camera to shoot longer videos, or you just want to get a few quick ads out there, you’ve probably asked yourself this question:

“What’s the best length to start with?”

A great starting point for in-stream ads is between 45-90 seconds.

This allows you to script a good ad with all of the core elements included – while keeping it short enough to hold your audience’s attention.

After making a few ads around that length, you might want to experiment with longer ads to see if they work well for you.

Five core elements of successful video ads on YouTube

No matter what length you choose to try out for your YouTube video ads, it’s critical they cover the five core elements of a successful video ad.

1. Master the hook

  • People want to hit the skip button. That’s why you need to start with a strong, interesting hook to grab the viewer’s attention. Alex Becker’s intros are a great example of this.

2. Call out your audience

  • You’ll need to quickly call out the audiences who would actually be interested in what your ad is about. For example, if you’re in personal finance, you might say, “Are you someone who wants to improve your financial situation, but you don’t know how?”
  • This way, you only attract people who are a good match for your offer, which keeps the ad spend lower.

3. Describe your offer

  • Make sure to thoroughly describe exactly what you’re offering your audience if they click through.
  • Explain the benefits of what you’re offering, and what they’ll get out of it.
  • For example, “Learn how to save 30% of your income without sacrificing your quality of life, in this webinar we’re hosting.”

4. Show results/proof

  • People like to see evidence of the results you’re claiming. It builds trust and credibility.
  • Include some testimonial screenshots if you have any. Another way to back your claim is to mention how someone was helped by you, or what results you brought them.
  • “One of our students saved $100k and got completely out of debt…in our webinar, we’re going to show you how she did it.”

5. Calls-to-action

  • It’s critical to tell people where you want them to go and what you want them to do.
  • You can take advantage of calls-to-action (CTA) at various points in your videos, but always make sure to end it with your main CTA.
  • Utilizing arrows in your video to point to the links you’re telling them to click on is a great way to visually strengthen your CTA.

Putting it all together

The main takeaway here is that your YouTube ad should be as long as it needs to be to hit those five core elements – without being so long that it bores your audience.

An ideal baseline length for any in-stream ad is between 45-90 seconds.

(That’s not a good length for discovery ads, just in-stream ads).

From there, you might consider trying out longer, more educational videos, particularly if you’re in an industry where educational videos could bring you highly qualified leads, through educating and winning over your target audience as subscribers.

But we recommend trying a few shorter videos first, to get used to being in front of the camera.

Grab a pen and paper or your laptop and try scripting a simple 45-second video ad, using the five core elements above as your guide.

And if you’re serious about YouTube ads, if you’re a coach or you have an info-product or course, reach out to us.

That’s all we do – we work with coaches and sellers to get them amazing results.

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