Meetrics Blog


Ways to buy YouTube inventory

Written by Hendrik Wistuba, Marketing/PR Manager

The advertising budgets allocated to large platforms haven’t been larger than they are this year. With the demand for user-generated content further on the rise, ad spend is merely following eyeballs. While this axiom remains true, social media advertising offers additional benefits to advertisers. Particularly young age groups may almost exclusively be reached through these platforms. Due to their natural access to large amounts of First-Party data, they may offer advertisers granular targeting options. As Third-Party cookies will soon be a thing of the past, the possibility of reliably reaching a particular target demographic becomes increasingly important.

Nonetheless, social media advertising is still a topic of concern for brand managers. The mid 2020 boycott of Facebook is evident for this. Regardless of all filters and review processes put in place, networks which heavily rely on user-generated content still face brand safety challenges. Likewise, the viewability of in-feed ads is continuously questioned and redefined as well. Although international viewability standards are common practice on the internet. Because we cover digital ad viewability and brand safety at length elsewhere, I’d like to direct the focus of this article on how sophisticated buying strategies might take these topics into account. Google offers advertisers multiple channels through which they are able to place their campaigns on the social video platform. Each of these offers different targeting options.

Figure 1: Different YouTube Ad formats (Source:


Google Ads

Google Ads for YouTube is the channel through which brands and advertisers of all sizes meet a vast inventory around user-generated video content. Most YouTube inventory is sold by the software giant directly through this programmatic platform. In addition to traditional CPM bidding, some campaign settings and formats allow for Cost-per-click or Cost-per-action optimisation. Brands can target YouTube users based on topics, keywords and a handful of demographic markers. The ability to reach certain audiences at a relatively low price is the main advantage of buying through Google Ads. However, placements on the most premium YouTube inventory can be acquired through different channels.

Partner-sold Ads

As the video platform gained popularity, it gained advertising relevance. Well-established video and TV publishers poured into the platform as their means of promoting and ultimately reusing their studio-quality content. At the same time, user-lead YouTube channels which accrued a large following started to form multi-channel networks in an effort to maximise their cross-reach and media offering. Both groups publish well-produced video content which is easily accessible to large audiences. YouTube recognises this value.

While the YouTube partner programme includes all channels which are eligible to monetise their videos, only a select few of these partners are allowed to sell ads on the inventory they create.

Even though specific details of the conditions attached to partner-sold ads are confidential, some advantages can be inferred from the offer itself. As the nature of the sale changes, the focus switches from programmatic targeting options to the promise of reaching specific audiences. Hence, publishers may choose to disclose insights they gain through YouTube Analytics. Since these partners only sell ads on their own inventory, advertisers also have a higher degree of control in which environments they promote their brands. Depending on the publisher, display and video ads on YouTube may be paired with in-video product placements in order to increase advertising effectiveness. 

Programmatic Guaranteed

YouTube’s third sales channel aims to sell placements on the same inventory as Google Ads. In programmatic direct deals, advertisers can purchase a guaranteed volume without partaking in auction bidding. This method of purchase is available through Display & Video 360 and allows advertisers to secure a certain number of ad impressions outside of the open auction at a premium price. Guaranteeing placements on outstanding YouTube formats might be desirable depending on the objectives of the respective ad campaign.

Measuring the effectiveness of ad spend

Regardless of the booking method, advertisers have access to viewability data through Google’s Ads Data Hub as detailed in an earlier blog post:

“[…] Ads Data Hub enables advertisers to grant their measurement vendors (e.g. Meetrics) access to this cloud data, providing “detailed, impression-level data about their media campaigns across devices”. Your Google data is stored in BigQuery, allowing your preferred measurement vendor to analyse the data and put it together in a way that enables you to draw specific insights. You can then use these insights to optimise your own YouTube campaigns.” – click here to read more.

Since most content on YouTube is user-generated, content creators usually only receive information about their audiences. For partner-sold ads, however, Meetrics enables publishers to verify viewability rates on their inventory and potentially share these with their advertising clients. If you’d like to know more about analysing viewability rates of your partner-sold ads, please feel free to reach out to us any time. 

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