YouTube Is Quietly Piloting An Ad Buying Program For YouTube Shorts


YouTube is making a behind-the-scenes effort to allow more advertisers to buy ads on YouTube Shorts – and only on Shorts.

Three sources confirmed with AdExchanger that a pilot program has been in an alpha testing phase with a group of tech providers and brands for the past few months. All three sources have direct knowledge of the program and work at companies that are Google Premier Partners.

YouTube rolled out new ad offerings for Shorts during its NewFront event in the spring, including the option to run ads between top-viewed Shorts. But sources say the ability to target solely Shorts inventory is a newer addition to this product suite, and opened up for testing over the summer.

The purpose of the pilot is to help brands target ads specifically on YouTube Shorts.

It’s a common tactic for platforms not to give advertisers control over specific placements, especially for newer formats before they reach scale.

Buyers have been frustrated over their inability to separate Shorts from the rest of their video ad buys on YouTube. Today, most advertisers can only buy Shorts inventory in bundles with other YouTube inventory through discovery or reach extension campaigns. These buyers have little way of knowing whether their ads are showing up on a connected TV, desktop or mobile device.

Under wraps

YouTube hasn’t publicized its new alpha program for buying ads on Shorts because it wants to hit a certain level of scale first, one source told AdExchanger.

Reaching scale for Shorts is clearly a priority.

According to YouTube CEO Neal Mohan, speaking during a podcast interview with creators last month, YouTube “really still [is] in the very early days of Shorts monetization.”

But Shorts usage has grown enough to support more monetization efforts, Mohan added.


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Shorts now generate more than 70 billion views per day, up from 50 billion per day in January, according to Mohan.

Short and sweet

So, how does the new program work?

Sources told AdExchanger that advertisers get access through a YouTube partner and can target ads on Shorts using basic age/gender demos and geolocation.

Additionally, buyers have the option of targeting Shorts ads based on a content category, such as gaming or cooking. But targeting based on specific channels or videos isn’t available yet, one source said.

On the measurement side, brands see reach, frequency and view-through rates. Views count as impressions if a user watches an ad for at least 10 seconds.

Brand safety verification is also available from third-party providers, and buyers can also conduct Google brand lift studies.

There appears to be optimism about the program from the buy side.

With more ad buying options available, one source said, YouTube Shorts can be a valuable way for brands to reach more of their target audience – and reach them more effectively.

YouTube did not provide a comment in time for publication.



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