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Everything You Need to Know About YouTube Audio Ads

YouTube audio ads are a refreshing new ad type designed to serve brand awareness and reach goals with audio content on the video platform. Here's how.

How to Get Started With YouTube Audio Ads

YouTube launched its version of audio ads, part of the platform’s strategy to engage music and podcast listeners, in November 2020.

YouTube audio ads give advertisers another avenue for capturing the attention of its users, particularly those who use the platform as an auditory versus strictly video medium — for listening to podcasts, concerts, or lectures, for example.

If your goal is brand awareness and reach, it’s worth testing this new initiative out.

Let’s take a look at how to get started with YouTube audio ads.

How Do YouTube Audio Ads Work?

While the audio ad format is primarily characterized by a voiceover, there is still an image or animation component that displays on the screen when played.

Here’s an example of a YouTube audio ad with a simple animation display:

YouTube Audio ads share similar characteristics with video ads, such as running on a CPM basis.

Google touts the relatively low cost of creative, simplified buying and campaign setup, streamlined targeting and measurements, and extended reach into new inventory at a low cost as the primary benefits of YouTube audio ads.

Where Do YouTube Audio Ads Show Up?

Audio ads only show on music or podcast content. Video ads, in contrast, can be placed on multiple categories, playlists, and channels.

Currently, there are audio and podcast lineups available to choose from, such as:

  • Pop.
  • Rock.
  • Country.
  • EDM.
  • Rap & Hip Hop.
  • Made for Audio Music.
  • Podcasts.

Google is also rolling out dynamic music lineups to their targeting options. More on that below.

Who’s Eligible for YouTube Audio Ads?

This new audio format was limited to certain brands in a test phase since late 2019. Since the announcement in November of 2020, audio ads have remained in a global open beta.

Certain brands are ineligible to run audio ads, including those in:

  • Healthcare & medicine.
  • Alcohol.
  • Gambling.
  • Other sensitive verticals.

It is important to note that Google requires that brands run two Brand Lift surveys before being eligible for the open beta.

Audio ads are currently available in Google Ads, Display & Video 360 platforms.

How To Start Your First YouTube Audio Ads Campaign

To get started, open your Google Ads Account. From there, navigate to Video Campaigns and click the Plus button.

Select New Campaign > Brand awareness and reach (goal) > Video (campaign type) > Audio (campaign subtype).

Then click Continue. That’s it! Now you’re ready to enter your bid and budget details.

Google notes:

“YouTube audio ads are currently in beta, so features may be added or removed at any time. If you encounter any issues, or have feedback about audio ads, reach out to your Google sales representative.”

Audio Ads Specifications

Similar to YouTube Video ads format, your audio ad also has to be uploaded to YouTube.

A few other requirements and specifications for audio ads include:

  • Ad length: 15 seconds maximum.
  • File size: 128GB maximum.
  • Resolution: anywhere from 426×240 (240p) up to 3840×2160 (2160p).
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9.
  • Companion banner & Call-To-Action: available by request through your Google representative.

Audience Targeting For Audio Ads

YouTube audio ads offer the same targeting options and bidding strategies as video campaigns. Consider it one less new thing you have to learn.

Google recommends not narrowing your audience too much. At the end of the day, you’re in control of the people your ads get in front of.

Some of my favorite audiences to test in YouTube ads, where our clients have seen success, are:


Say your brand is trying to reach people who own a restaurant or other hospitality business at a broad level. You want to target them with a new payment technology product.

With Google’s newer feature of Custom Combinations, you can get creative on how you can try to reach these people:

  • Detailed Demographics: Works in the “Hospitality” Industry.

And Also Includes:

  • In-Market:
    • Payroll Services.
    • Business Financial Services.
    • Payment Processing and Merchant Services.

Now is the time to get into the mind of your user. These may be the type of people who listen to podcasts on business ownership, finance, etc.

Try creating an audio ad that plays on podcasts only, then set up another campaign for different music genres. By segmenting out where your audio ads are being shown, you can quickly grasp the top placements that are performing.

Dynamic Music Lineups

Dynamic music lineups are driven by advanced contextual targeting. Choose from lineups that align with topics, moments, or popularity with your target audience.

If using dynamic music lineups, it is important not to overlap targeting with the following options:

  • Advanced audience targeting.
  • Keyword targeting.
  • Different targeting types in the same campaign (meaning dynamic lineups audience should have their own campaign).

In the campaign interface, simply go to:

Placements > Click Enter Multiple Placements > Search for the specific video content ID.

YouTube Audio Ads Best Practices & Key Takeaways

Now that we’ve covered the who, what, and where of YouTube Audio ads, it’s time to cover the “how.” Follow these best practices for a more streamlined setup.

Be interesting! Since audio ads run only on music or podcast long listening sessions, it’s critical to capture a user’s attention in the 15 seconds your ad can play.

Focus on the sound component. While the ad still has an image or animation component, the main focus should be on audio. You’d be surprised how difficult it can be to master your message in 15 seconds.

Think about the tone and tempo. Do your ads come off as conversational or sales-y? A user-friendly tone is crucial to help engage and capture your audience’s attention between their music or podcast content.

Word count is important. With only 15 seconds, don’t try to cram too much information in at once. Google recommends aiming for 40 words in your audio clip. Be clear and specific for optimal brand recall.

Don’t forget the call-to-action. Try adding in an offer that is specific to audio listeners. This can help determine the success of your campaign when reviewing results.

Start testing! Google is starting to roll out Video Experiments, making it easier to test. Creative and audience testing will be the main components of these initial experiments. This feature hasn’t rolled out to everyone yet, so be sure to discuss it with your Google representative.

Stick to one audience per campaign. This is similar to how we set up YouTube video ads, but worth repeating. If you use two different audiences with different sizes in separate ad groups in the same campaign, chaos can ensue. Typically, the audience that has the higher size and CPV will win out the majority of each auction. If you want to test audiences, do so with separate campaigns.

If advertising on platforms such as Spotify or Pandora seems daunting, give YouTube Audio ads a try. Your first audio campaign can be set up in no time.

YouTube audio ads can also give you a leg up on remarketing efforts since it’s tied in with the Google Ads platform.

Testing audio ads with YouTube can be a cost-effective way of amplifying your brand message, and at the fraction of a cost compared to other platforms.

More Resources:

VIP CONTRIBUTOR Brooke Osmundson Director of Growth Marketing at Smith Micro Software

Brooke serves as the Director of Growth Marketing at Smith Micro Software, with over 10 years of paid media experience. ...

Everything You Need to Know About YouTube Audio Ads

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