The Problem with Google Video Partners for Google Ads

Google video partners are additional websites and mobile apps where you can show your video ads, beyond YouTube.  That’s the good news. The bad news is that when you set up a Google Ads video campaign, the partner sites are default-enabled. Now, it’s not a problem to disable them — and generally you should — but if you’re still learning the ropes around Google Ads, and particularly their video ads, it’s a setting that could be missed, among the many settings that require decisions for every campaign.

Now, to be clear, it’s not that the video partners should never be used.

It’s just that if you are doing any advertising (video or otherwise) you should be testing and optimizing the settings as well as the video and messaging themselves. Hence, the basic idea is to minimize the variables to begin with and then test them when you’re ready.

In other words, the video partners should be tested separately than presenting your videos directly on YouTube. Find out for yourself if the video partners are increasing or decreasing your ad performance. Don’t just take Google’s suggestions, when their goals are different than your own.

You, of course, want to optimize your advertising so that it benefits your business the most with the least cost. And of course, Google wants you to spend more of your money with them.

They will tell you that it’s in their best interest to provide you a good experience so that you’ll continue to spend money with them. But the truth is, most new advertisers are not going to do a good job, which means you won’t be continuing your advertising, which also means they would like to generate as much revenue from you as possible, while they can.

The professional way to approach Google Video Ads or any advertising, is to test different messages, demographics, geographical zones and other targeting options, as well as the messaging, and test them all discretely and one at a time, so you can find out for yourself what is supporting your goals and what is not.

Don’t get me wrong, Google Ads and Google Video Ads are worthy of testing and for many businesses, Google can be an important channel for business growth.

But you’re better off going through a strategic, step-by-step testing process which will give you a stronger opportunity for winning.

YouTube Video Advertising Formats Explained – Different Types of YouTube Ads

YouTube has a number of video advertising options. Each have their advantages and disadvantages. Some have intuitive applications, such as Outstream Ads which are specifically for mobile. Ad Sequence videos are unique in that you can show a predetermined series of ads to individual viewers in the order that you define.

Others have length limitations, such as Non-Skippable In-Stream ads (15 seconds or less) and Bumper Ads, which are 6 seconds or less.

Here are the primary YouTube video ad formats:

  • Skippable in-stream ads
  • Non-skippable in-stream ad
  • Discovery ads
  • Bumper ads
  • Outstream ads
  • Video Discovery ads
  • Mastheads ads
  • Ad Sequence (This one is unique in that you can use a combination of the first three formats above to present a series of messages).

Using square and vertical video formats for mobile provides more screen real-estate, which is a plus for making a bigger viewer impact, although the standard horizontal format is best for desktop and can also be shown on mobile.

One point not mentioned in the above video is the benefits of testing different ad formats to find which works best for your product or service, as well as your overall industry.

YouTube vs TV: Business Promotion with Gordon Ramsay

For some business owners, particularly those who may be new to video, there’s a certain formality they may ascribe to the medium, even though YouTube is famous as an informal media — as well as everything else. That’s not to suggest that informality is, or is not, the best way to present your brand via video; certainly controlling your message and brand presentation is pertinent to TV and YouTube. Yet it’s still helpful to include in one’s awareness the opportunities for informality as a way to increase consumer and client engagement.

Shar Caesar Douglas, Head of Creator Marketing at Google EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) discusses YouTube with Gordon Ramsay, who is a Michelin-starred chef and TV personality.

Ramsay talks about his business strategy centered around video and the difference between YouTube and TV. Although the video may be even more interesting if you are a foodie, for me, the key takeaway is when Ramsay states, “Big, glossy formatted [TV] shows [that are] cleverly edited is the opposite of what we do on the [YouTube] platform.”

He elaborates upon the informality of the platform and embraces making mistakes and even showing them off. In other terms, the idea would be described as providing an authentic viewer experience.

Of course, a basic purpose of the video is for Google to promote YouTube. And Ramsay has a successful YouTube channel. Who wouldn’t want that?

But what’s not mentioned is that his celebrity would have been a factor in drawing attention to his channel to achieve its growth in the first place.

You and I could leverage a tremendous amount of promotion, including paid ads, and not come close to his level of viewership. (Ramsay has over 2.5 billion views so far).

Nor should we under-emphasize the real work that would be invested to create and maintain the content for the channel. But as a model for others, few noncelebrities would be able to achieve the level of viewership as Ramsay, even by putting in the same or more work.

Nevertheless, what’s even more pertinent to the world of small- and medium-sized businesses with low to moderate budgets, is how much more attention and customer connection that can be established through video.

You can certainly post a video now and again on YouTube to gain a few views. That may not generate enough interest to support the effort of creating and posting the video. And although there are some examples of people posting videos that went viral with no paid advertising and no effort, that’s analogous to winning the lottery. It does happen, but it’s a low probability — especially if your video has any commercial implications.

A more predictable path towards generating meaningful results from YouTube is to implement a strategy and see it through.

You don’t necessarily have to invest a lot of money (although some brands do), but you do need to determine some part of your marketing dollars as a way to establish and sustain a YouTube channel or even one paid video advertising campaign (whether YouTube or Facebook or elsewhere).

With even a moderate budget and some amount of effort (depending upon how much you want to outsource), a powerful marketing opportunity is at your fingertips to generate tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of views — again, depending upon your budget.

Video marketing is something that should not be ignored, and YouTube is front and center in that sphere.

YouTube Video Upload Specifications and a Bit of History

Uploading videos to YouTube is easier than ever, primarily because the platform accepts a great variety of video lengths, as well as the majority of video formats.

In brief, any YouTube user can upload videos up to 15 minutes long. However, users who have a good track record of complying with YouTube’s Community Guidelines may be offered the ability to upload videos up to 12 hours in length (or 128GB, whichever is less), as well as live streams, which requires verifying the account, normally through a mobile phone. This even includes high-quality video formats, such as 4K.

But it wasn’t always that way. Back in the earlier days of YouTube, only low-quality formats and shorter videos were acceptable. For more info on some of the history of YouTube video upload specification, scroll down further. For now, let’s get to the current specs.

Supported YouTube File Formats

A video file format normally consists of a container that holds video data, separate audio data, subtitles and additional information such as the type of video compression used. Technically, the last items on the list, DNxHR, ProRes, Cineform, HEVC (h265), are compression technologies (codecs) and not video container formats themselves. Nevertheless, YouTube includes them in the following list anyway, likely for simplicity’s sake, so we’re including them as well.

  • .MOV
  • .MPEG4
  • .MP4
  • .AVI
  • .WMV
  • .MPEGPS
  • .FLV
  • 3GPP
  • WebM
  • DNxHR
  • ProRes
  • CineForm
  • HEVC (h265)

YouTube Recommended Resolution & Aspect Ratios

‘Aspect ratio’ describes the proportional relationship between the width and height of video screens and video picture elements.

YouTube states that “The standard aspect ratio for YouTube on desktop is 16:9. If your video has a different aspect ratio, the player will automatically change to the ideal size to match your video and the viewer’s device.”

Hence, the following aspect ratios are all the same (16:9), which represents the shape of a high-definition TV. But the actual size (resolution) of the images are different, as depicted by their pixel lengths horizontally and vertically. A bigger image size is associated with higher quality video.

  • 2160p: 3840×2160
  • 1440p: 2560×1440
  • 1080p: 1920×1080
  • 720p: 1280×720
  • 480p: 854×480
  • 360p: 640×360
  • 240p: 426×240

The ‘p’ in the name, such as ‘1080p’ refers to ‘progressive scanning‘ to differentiate from ‘i’ (not recommended by YouTube) which means ‘interlaced video,’ usually associated with TV.

Following are how three of the above resolutions and aspect ratios relate to each other.

A Word on Video Length

How long should your video be? Just because you can upload a video to YouTube that is longer than 15 minutes in length, should you? The short answer is “it depends.” For more info, visit What’s the Best Length for an Internet Video?

Video Quality

Video quality means different things. For this paragraph, we’re not talking about the quality of the content or the quality of the lighting or audio or camera placement or how well focused the camera was or was not. We are simply referring to the technical quality of the video file itself. In brief, the higher video quality you upload to YouTube, the better quality available to viewers. But viewers will not necessarily see the same quality that you uploaded. YouTube will provide a level of quality appropriate to the internet speed of the viewer in addition to the size of the viewer’s screen. In other words, just because you upload a 4K video does not mean viewers will see a 4K video. For example, instead they may see a 240p video if that is most appropriate to their internet speed and/or size of their viewing device.

A Bit of YouTube History

YouTube was founded in 2005 by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim, who were early employees of PayPal. The platform originally offered videos at only one quality level, displayed at a resolution of 320×240 pixels.

In March, 2006, a ten-minute limit was introduced after YouTube found that the majority of videos exceeding this length were unauthorized uploads of television shows and films.

On October 9, 2006, Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion in Google stock, and the deal was finalized on November 13, 2006.

In March 2008, a ‘high-quality’ mode was added, which increased the resolution to 480×360 pixels.

In December 2008, 720p high-definition (HD) support was added. Also, the YouTube player was changed from a 4:3 (standard TV) aspect ratio to a widescreen 16:9, which reflected the future of high-definition video and TV viewing.

In November 2009, 1080p HD support was added

In March 2010, YouTube began offering online streaming video.

In July 2010 the 10-minute video upload limit was increased to 15 minutes.

In Dec 2010, YouTube began allowing users to upload videos of unlimited length.

In October 2014, YouTube introduced videos playing at 60 frames per second, in order to reproduce video games with a frame rate comparable to high-end graphics cards

In March 2015, support for 4K resolution was added, with the videos playing at 3840 × 2160 pixels.

In 2016, YouTube discontinued the ability to upload ‘unlimited’ videos and instead limited the ability to upload videos up to 12 hours in length (or 128GB, whichever is less).

In January 2019, YouTube said that it introduced a new policy intended to stop recommending videos containing ‘content that could misinform users in harmful ways.’ This invoked controversy since is necessitates censorship in terms of what represents misinformation.