The Introduction of YouTube Shorts Ads

March 15, 2024
A phone screen which has YouTube Shorts on written on it and a hand around the mobile screen.

YouTube Shorts is a relatively new feature on the platform that allows users to create and share short-form videos. These videos can be up to 60 seconds long and are usually viewed on mobile devices. The format is designed to appeal to users looking for quick, snackable content they can watch on the go

YouTube Shorts have gained a large audience, 1,5 billion unique logged-in viewers per month to be exact. What’s more, Shorts are still growing. Google recently announced that it surpassed more than 50 billion daily views.

Image by: Google blog

Image by: Google blog

In 2021 YouTube started experimenting with Shorts ads, it gradually has been adding more functionalities like video action campaigns and app campaigns in an effort to close the gap with normal YouTube ads. Shorts ads appear between Shorts videos in a viewer’s feed and are instantly swipeable (skippable).

Like TikTok, Shorts is a vertical video format, so most viewers (70%) use mobile devices to watch Shorts. If your target audience is active on YouTube and primarily uses mobile devices, running YouTube Shorts ads could be a viable option.

Advantages of YouTube Shorts ads

YouTube Shorts ads are still very new, so relatively few brands are active in this subspace of YouTube. Many of the campaigns currently running on Shorts are from smaller brands that don’t have big budgets. It has resulted in lower-quality ads and viewers wondering why YouTube Shorts ads are of a different caliber  than regular YouTube ads.

Normal YouTube ads are very effective but have been around for a longer time; thus, most brands have fully adapted YouTube ads as part of their overall marketing strategy. Making your ad stand out on YouTube has, therefore become more difficult. However, it is achievable with the proper tools, like, a platform that can pre-test YouTube ads to determine its effectiveness.

Ultimately, the lack of large brand advertisers on YouTube shorts has created an opportunity to create higher quality YouTube Shorts ads and stand out from the competition.

Additionally, YouTube Shorts ads have more subtle markings that identify them as ads. The format is very similar to organic Shorts videos as of right now. When they appear in the Shorts video feed, they are instantly skippable (swipeable), and the only visuals that shows it’s an ad is the two small letters “Ad” and the call-to-action button. Check the example below.

Image by: tubefilter
Image by: tubefilter

This makes the experience for the viewers more seamless, it’s harder for viewers to differentiate if they’re watching an advertisement or a normal Shorts video. Especially when the ad is well made and the style fits in with the rest of the organic Shorts videos a viewer has been watching.

As you can see from the example above, YouTube Shorts ads provide you with a prominent call to action button, this CTA button is easier to spot than the ones found under normal YouTube ads. You can customize this button and include product feeds to drive conversions.

This gives interesting opportunities, you have to keep in mind that the majority of people will interact with your ad on a mobile device (70%). So if you want to run a conversion-based strategy with shoppable ads, you could heavily focus on products that are specific to mobile devices.

Some brands are using YouTube Shorts to promote mobile apps that are easy to install via the shoppable ads feature. If a viewer clicks the “Install” CTA button they can install the app via a pop-up screen of the app store and thus do not have to close the YouTube app.

Effectiveness of YouTube Shorts ads

So how effective is advertising on YouTube Shorts? Creatopy ran a test comparing advertising the same campaign on different platforms, including YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, TikTok, and Pinterest.

Image by: Creatopy
Image by: Creatopy

The YouTube Short format proved to be a success, driving the most traffic and emerging as the clear winner of the case study. Although the quality of the traffic was not the highest, it was still one of the best performers in the space. Read the complete case study here.

How to run YouTube Shorts ads

Advertising on YouTube Shorts is fairly simple, you need to create an ad campaign using the Google Ads platform. Here are the steps to get started:

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account, or create a new one if you don’t have an account already.
  2. Click on “Campaigns” in the navigation menu and then click the blue plus button to create a new campaign.
  3. Select “Video” as your campaign type and “Custom Video” as subtype.
  4. Set your budget for a certain time period.
  5. Choose your marketing objective, which could be to drive website traffic, increase brand awareness, or generate leads.
  6. Choose your intended devices, we recommend to only select “mobile phones” since Shorts are best optimized for them.
  7. Set up your ad group and targeting options. You can choose to target specific locations, languages, demographics, interests, and behaviors.
  8. Under the “Ad Formats” section, choose “Shorts” as your ad format.
  9. Create your ad by uploading a Shorts video that is 15 seconds or less in length. You can also add a headline and description to your ad.
  10. Review and finalize your ad campaign, then submit.

Once your ad campaign is submitted, it will start running on YouTube Shorts and will be eligible to appear in the Shorts shelf. If you want to know more, check out google’s full documentation on YouTube Shorts.


As YouTube Shorts’ viewership continues growing there’s still few big brands making use of the YouTube Shorts advertising subsection, marketers can benefit significantly from this ad type. By using the unintrusive style of Shorts ads and product feeds, marketers can effectively increase reach and drive conversions in the Shorts feed.

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