How YouTube Bumper Ads Use 6 Seconds to Maximize Reach

by Brandon Weaver in Advertising, Google Ads This header image shows YouTube bumper ads.

Released in 2016, YouTube bumper ads have given advertisers a creative way to increase brand awareness and reach. However, these non-skippable ads can only run for a few seconds, so creating compelling ads in this format can be challenging.

In this guide, you’ll learn the basics of bumper ads, including what they are, how much they cost, and how effective they can be. Additionally, this guide will outline best practices, look at some examples, and show you how to set up your bumper ad campaigns.

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What are YouTube bumper ads?

YouTube’s bumper ad is a six-second, unskippable video ad that plays before a YouTube video. It is one of YouTube’s six different advertising formats. Due to their short length, bumper ads are best for creating brand awareness and reach.

In contrast, ad formats like overlay ads, skippable, and non-skippable video ads are better for longer ad spots that dive deeper into product features and benefits.

Bumper ads can run as standalone ad campaigns, but Google recommends running them in combination with TrueView Ads to increase their effectiveness (ex. Showing TrueView ads to first-time viewers and then continuing to show those same viewers bumper ads to increase frequency).

In either case, bumper ads should be set up as their own campaign in Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords).

How much do bumper ads cost?

Much like other YouTube and Google advertising types, bumper ads operate within a bidding pricing model. In this case, however, only cost-per-impression (CPM) pricing is available, so you will be charged per 1,000 impressions.

Exact pricing will vary based on targeting and competitiveness. However, you can set a daily budget and a maximum CPM to ensure you don’t spend more than you want.

How effective can YouTube bumper ads be?

In a study of 122 bumper ad campaigns in 2017, Google found that 70% drove a significant lift in brand awareness, with an average lift of 9%.

Additionally, 9 out of 10 drove ad recall globally, with an average lift of over 30%.

For those unfamiliar, ad recall is a measure of an ad’s effectiveness. The metric looks at a sample of respondents that are exposed to a specific ad and then later asks them if they can remember the ad. Lift refers to an increase in sales in response to some type of advertising.

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Ad specs & details

Video length: 6 seconds
Device availability: Shown on both mobile and desktop devices
Delivery: Bumper ads are presented prior to a YouTube video. Any file type accepted by YouTube is acceptable.

YouTube bumper ads example

Best practices

1. Focus on one single objective

In a 30-second ad, you have time to include a short story, product info, a tagline, and more.

But with YouTube bumper ads, you don’t have that luxury. Your ad has to be extremely concise. Try to fit too much into your ad, and you may leave viewers confused and ultimately reducing the impact of your campaign.

It’s best to focus on a single point -- one single objective.

Think about the one thing that you want to convey in your ad.

For example, if you sell a smartphone, you could focus on the bright, bezel-less screen, how indestructible it is, or how many apps you can run simultaneously. If you’re promoting a movie, you could focus on a single emotion that seeing that movie would invoke.

Whatever it is, make sure to keep your ad quick and concise. Don’t overcomplicate things by trying to stuff too many selling points into one ad.

2. Keep it simple

In addition to a single objective, you should also try to keep your ad's flow and visuals as simple as possible. Too many visuals, cut scenes, or overwhelming text will be distracting and hard to follow in such a short time span.

3. Come out of the gates swinging

Beginning your ad with a striking visual, funny moment, or celebrity talent can be a great way to quickly capture the viewer's attention, which is essential in a short ad.

4. Shoot for six seconds

Many advertisers may be tempted to cut down their 30 or 15-second video ads to fit the six-second format. However, this effort may not always translate, and the ad will likely come off as confusing or disjointed.

It’s best to start fresh and create ads specifically for this six-second (or shorter) ad slot.

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YouTube bumper ad examples

Samsung Galaxy S8

The ad was ranked number one by YouTube in a survey of internal global data from April to July 2017. YouTube stated that rankings were determined via an algorithm that factored in organic views, click-throughs, and user creative ratings.

What the ad does well:

  • The ad focuses on one specific feature of the Galaxy S8: its large, vibrant screen that flows from edge to edge.
  • The ad uses text for viewers who may be watching the video without audio.

What the ad could improve on:

  • The video doesn’t include any narration which could miss viewers who have not turned their attention to the video yet (multitaskers, opened the video in another tab) or are simply listening to the video’s audio.

Amazon spring cleaning

In this ad, Amazon promotes its 2-hour Prime Now delivery service.

What the ad does well:

  • The message is simple. Viewers know right away that Amazon offers free 2-hour delivery.
  • Viewers can also tell that this delivery service is for household items sold by Amazon.

What the ad could improve on:

  • Again, no narration. This means viewers who have not turned their attention to the screen, or those simply listening to the audio, will miss the ad.

Mercedes-Benz’s 0-100

In this ad, Mercedes-Benz advertises its new Mercedes-AMG GT S and the fact it can go from 0-100 km/h in 3.8 seconds.

What the ad does well:

  • The message is simple: This car is fast.
  • The ad is clever, using the ad length to showcase just how fast the car accelerates.

What the ad could improve on:

  • The ad relies heavily on the text that is shown only for a split second. This makes the ad messaging difficult to read and viewers might miss the message if they are not immediately paying attention. It’s likely you would need to see the ad multiple times to read the message in its entirety.
  • Again, no narration to capture the attention of viewers who have not tuned in yet or are only listening to the video’s audio.

Yoplait’s fruit burst

In this ad, Yoplait introduces viewers to their new Fruit Burst yogurt.

What the ad does well:

  • The ad focuses on just one of Yoplait’s products and one aspect of that product -- that the yogurt is full of fruit.
  • The tagline is simple: “Full of fruit. Full of pleasure.”
  • The video uses narration.

What the ad could improve on:

While the first scene accurately shows what goes into the product, the scene (and the entire ad itself) doesn’t evoke any emotion, nor is it unique. It’s likely to be a forgettable ad.

Gumtree’s easy sell

Gumtree is a classifieds site in the UK. In this ad, they advertise how simple it is to sell items on their website.

What the ad does well:

  • The messaging is clear. Viewers know in only five seconds that they can use Gumtree to sell things.
  • The video includes narration to capture the attention of distracted viewers.

What the ad could improve on:

  • Again, this ad doesn’t strike any emotions so it could be forgotten quickly.
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How to set up bumper ads

Since bumper ads run on YouTube, you will need a Google Ads account. Once you are logged in, navigate to the Campaigns page, and click the blue “+” button:
YouTube bumper ads setup
Then, click “New campaign:”
YouTube bumper ads new campaign
From there, choose the “Video” campaign type:
YouTube bumper ads video campaign
Select the “Brand awareness and reach” goal:
YouTube bumper ads brand awareness
Then, select “Standard awareness - Drive reach, impressions, and views:”
YouTube bumper ads impressions
Now, you’ll be able to customize your bumper ad campaign. From the following screen, you can name your campaign, set a daily budget, select start and end dates, the networks where you'd like to show your ads, and target specific languages and locations:
YouTube bumper ads customization
When setting your bidding strategy, make sure to change Maximum CPV to “Maximum CPM”. By choosing Maximum CPM now, you’ll be able to select Bumper ads as your video ad format later.

In the “Create your ad group” section, name your ad group and set your maximum CPM bid:
bumper ads maximum CPM
Below that, you can customize your targeting with options for demographics, audiences, keywords, topics, and placements:
bumper ads targeting
Under the “Create your video ad” section, enter in the URL of the video you’d like to use for your bumper ad campaign:
bumper ads video creation
Remember, this video must be six seconds or shorter.

Once you’ve entered in your video’s URL, you can now choose the “Bumper ad” video ad format:
bumper ads format
At this point, you should also enter in your ad’s final URL, display URL, and customize URL options (this area is optional and allows you to add information for tracking and custom parameters).

Finally, you can name your ad and choose whether you want to auto-generate the video ad’s companion banner or upload your own custom image:
bumper ads companion banner
Once you’re satisfied with all of your settings, click “Save and Continue” to publish your ad campaign.

Building the perfect advertising campaign split

YouTube’s bumper ads offer advertisers a unique way to show ads to video watchers and increase brand awareness quickly. However, bumper ads aren’t likely to be the only advertising format you use.

It’s likely you’ll also use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google search ads, and more. For ad specs and targeting options for each of these major ad platforms, including visual examples. Sign up for an Instapage 14-day free trial today.

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Brandon Weaver

by Brandon Weaver

Brandon Weaver is one of the worlds leading experts on digital advertising, CRO, & personalization, with more than a decade in the industry.

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