Which ad format is the best (with highest CPM) for YouTubers?

For content creators, which ad formats give you the highest CPM or revenue per thousand impressions? Let's take a look at Skippable video ads, bumper ads, display ads etc.

For a start, this is an article for YouTubers or content creators, this is not meant for advertisers.

Be it you are just starting as a video content creator, or running an active YouTube channel, you probably need to know which ad formats are suitable and more lucrative for you.

Highest CPM YouTube ad format

If you don't know yet, you can earn revenue from the Google ads showing on your video content, via Google AdSense. Below are the requirements to entitle for YouTube ads earning:
  • More than 4,000 watch hours in the last 12 months
  • More than 1,000 YouTube subscribers
Check here for the full list of requirements. If you are eligible, you need to enable monetization on your YouTube channel and wait for YouTube's approval. From our experience, it takes a few weeks to get approved.

After your monetization request is approved, brace yourself to become one of the richest YouTubers in Malaysia! Hold on, son, let's get the basics right first.

Did you know that you can select which ad format to appear along with your YouTube content? Here's how you can do it depending on which interface you are using:
  • Creator Studio Classic: Channel > Upload Defaults > Extras
  • Creator Studio Beta: Settings > Upload Defaults > Extras
You will then see the options like below.

YouTube ad format options for Creator

Before going through each type of ads later, let's first take a look at the location of video ads. While the ads will appear by default before video's play, it is optional for you to select during or after video's play (or automatic mid-roll ads in the classic interface).

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    •   Do take note that mid-roll ads (during the video's play) will only work for long-form videos with 10 minutes or longer. (source)

Type of YouTube Ad Formats

Ad format Description Platform CPM
Display ads

Appears to the right of the feature video and above the video suggestions list. For larger players, this ad may appear below the player.
Overlay ads

Semi-transparent overlay ads that appear in the lower 20% portion of your video.
Skippable video ads

Skippable video ads allow viewers to skip ads after 5 seconds if they wish. Inserted before, during or after the main video.

If you turn on this option, you may see a combination of skippable and bumper ads play back to back.
Desktop, mobile devices, TV and game consoles
Non-skippable video ads

Non-skippable video ads must be watched before your video can be viewed.

These ads can appear before, during or after the main video.
Desktop and mobile devices
Bumper ads

Non-skippable video ads of up to 6 seconds that must be watched before your video can be viewed.

If you turn on this option, you may see a combination of skippable and bumper ads play back to back.
Desktop and mobile devices
Sponsored cards

Sponsored cards display content that may be relevant to your video, such as products featured in the video.

Viewers will see a teaser for the card for a few seconds. They can also click on the icon in the top right-hand corner of the video to browse the cards.
Desktop and mobile devices

YouTube might change the ad format from time to time, so you can check here for the updated YouTube advertising formats.

Display a.k.a. companion banner will be shown by default (desktop only), which you can't opt out. Every other ad formats are optional though.

If you notice the last column above, it is the CPM (Cost per Mille) for each type of ad format. While CPM is a popular advertising term which means Cost per 1,000 impressions, publishers can treat this as "RPM" instead, basically the Revenue you get when the ad is shown for a thousand times.

Do take note that the CPM / RPM in USD above might change from time to time, and most importantly the CPM is different by country.

The CPM data above is retrieved from our own YouTube channel (see screenshot below) with 60%+ Malaysian audience, data captured from 13 June to 10 July 2019.

CPM by YouTube ad format type (creator studio classic)

Which YouTube ad format generates the highest CPM?

From the data we are crunching so far, following is the ranking of ad format type by CPM:
  1. Skippable video ads (Reserved) - $5.54 / RM23.20 🥇 
  2. Skippable video ads (Auction) - $5.38 / RM22.40 🥈 
  3. Non-skippable video ads (Auction) - $3.52 / RM14.24 🥉 
  4. Bumper ads (Auction) - $2.80 / RM11.56
  5. Display ads (Auction) - $0.50 / RM2.10
It is obvious that Skippable video ads are the most rewarding ad formats for YouTubers, you get around $5.54 for every 1,000 ad impressions served.

In case you are wondering, "Auction" is the standard media buy via self-serviced Google Ads platform; "Reserved" is the special booking via YouTube Masthead or Prime Packs, usually bought by bigger advertisers.

Do take note that there is also YouTube Premium revenue available for content creators, which is generated from the paid membership for ads-free watching experience (not available in Malaysia yet).

Which ad format is the best for YouTubers?

Let's revisit our ad format performance via the Creator Studio Beta interface:

CPM by YouTube ad format type (creator studio beta)

This time around, we sort the ad format by ad revenue breakdown in the last 28 days:
  1. Skippable video ads (Auction) - 60.3% 🥇
  2. Bumper ads (Auction) - 28.4% 🥈
  3. Display ads (Auction) - 10.0% 🥉
  4. Non-skippable video ads (Auction) - 1.0%
  5. Skippable video ads (Reserved) - 0.3%
While everyone's breakdown varies, 60% of our YouTube ad revenue came from Skippable video ads, this is definitely a "must-on" ad format for content creators.

You might be asking, why not just make all the ad formats available for your YouTube channel?

Not for me, if we consider the user experience factor especially with Non-skippable video ads. This is the ad format we opt out for most of the time.

In my opinion, Bumper ads is still acceptable with 6 seconds maximum but your audience will be forced to wait for up to 15 to 20 seconds commercials for Non-skippable video ads.

Your audience might not have that patience so they could leave without watching your video at all. Furthermore, the CPM / RPM for Non-skippable is lesser than Skippable video ads!

Therefore, my personal preference is to turn on every ad format except for Non-skippable video ads, what about you?



Silver Mouse: Which ad format is the best (with highest CPM) for YouTubers?
Which ad format is the best (with highest CPM) for YouTubers?
For content creators, which ad formats give you the highest CPM or revenue per thousand impressions? Let's take a look at Skippable video ads, bumper ads, display ads etc.
Silver Mouse
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