Drive Action Online: YouTube Rolls Out Mastheads to All Brands

Masthead ads used to be limited to big brands, who could afford them. This is no longer the case. YouTube is now rolling out masthead ads to all brands and YouTube marketing agencies globally.  

What is an ads masthead placement?

The YouTube ads masthead placement is essentially a digital “billboard” that have the capability of directly raising the average brand lift.

YouTube has stated that masthead ads have directly raised the average brand lift by 92%YouTube measures brand lift by prompting users to complete a survey before the video they are watching begins. This is a short multiple-choice survey asking the user if they have seen an ad from a particular brand recently.

What is the history of mastheads?

Previously masthead ads would have 100% share of voice within the specified country. This allowed advertisers to reach a huge audience, generate massive brand awareness and build large remarketing lists.  

You can imagine a placement targeting a whole country with no competition for an entire day is extremely expensive. That’s why only large brands with big budgets previously would book a masthead.  

Mastheads will still be a “reserved” placement, but open to more brands with the ability to target Google’s specific in-market and affinity audiences.  

What is the difference between masthead ads and other YouTube ad formats? 

The masthead ads will only be shown on the YouTube home page on mobile and desktop.  

Alternative ad formats are shown before, during and after YouTube videos. These are called in-stream ads (skippable or un-skippable) or bumper ads (short, un-skippable 6 second videos). They can be pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll.  

YouTube discovery ads show in the YouTube search results page. Whereas YouTube display ads show whilst videos are playing, above suggested videos and overlay ads are displayed during a video.  

There are many different ad formats which are available to advertisers. You can read more about YouTube ad formats here

YouTube video advertising continues to grow

YouTube continues to be the most popular video-sharing website in the world, and one of the most used social media platforms. YouTube increased its monthly active users by 137.5% in five years.  

In comparison, industry-leading rival Facebook increased its user base by 91.8% in the same time period (not including Instagram or WhatsApp). 

Top Social Media Platforms January 2014 Graph


Top Social Media Platform January 2019 Graph

Source: Volan News 2019  

Like most social media platforms, YouTube’s revenue is largely based on marketers buying ads on their platforms.  

Creators who publish content on the platform can get paid through AdSense on a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) basis, when users watch their videos.

PIC User Advertisers Creators circle  

Google knows its platform is growing rapidly and has begun pushing YouTube ads as an option for digital marketers even more in recent years.  

Many digital marketers opt for direct response channels as they are looking for a measurable ROAS (return on ad spend) for their investments.  

Historically, YouTube video advertising has not been a direct response channel as it is very difficult to pull users away from their funny cat videos. How many times have you skipped an ad to watch a video or listen to your favourite song? 

Google has been trying to combat this push-back from marketers by offering ad formats such as TrueView for action.  

This new format takes the existing in-stream and encourages users to take actions on your site by adding more visible CTAs (calls to action), overlays and end screens to your ads.  

YouTube masthead ad on mobile example

TrueView for action ads are skippable in-stream ads bought on CPA (cost per acquisition) that drive actions within your website. – Google Ads Announcements 2019  

It’s clear this format is working. Google is getting smarter with their targeting and marketers are continuing to improve their YouTube campaigns.  

Between 2016 and 2019, global conversions on YouTube ads have grown 150% year on year, showing that users are starting to pay more attention to ads on YouTube and taking action. 

How can I run masthead ads for my brand?

Here’s an example of what a YouTube masthead ad can look like on mobile and desktop. You can quickly create your own masthead preview using Google’s handy tool

PIC Example of a mobile masthead ad

Example of a mobile masthead ad 

PIC Example of a desktop masthead ad

Example of a desktop masthead ad 

Whilst mastheads will play automatically when users visit YouTube, the sound will be automatically turned off. However, this doesn’t mean your video shouldn’t have sound. A great masthead creative should delight users when they turn the sound on.  

Masthead ads are very easy to customise using Google’s tool with the ability to change:  

  • Video size (widescreen or 16:9) 
  • Autoplay start 
  • Duration 
  • Title 
  • Description 
  • Companion videos 
  • CTA 
  • Destination URL 

Currently, the only way to run masthead ads is to get in contact with your Google sales representative.  

Get in contact with us to speak to one of our YouTube advertising consultants today about YouTube masthead ads and other advertising options which are available to your brand. 

Novicell is a digital marketing agency with in-house YouTube specialists. We have experience of running YouTube ads for companies in multiple industries with great results.