Our blog theme this week: getting the most out of YouTube advertising, brought to you by Sr. Account Manager Ashley Mo. If you missed her earlier posts, on hacking YouTube for direct response, TrueView for Action best practices, and using YouTube for B2B marketing, check them out.

YouTube advertising

With video advertising growing at double-digit rates, digital marketers have a prime opportunity to take advantage of this popular (yet not saturated) medium. The two best platforms for exploring video? Facebook and YouTube, of course.

Each platform has its pros and cons for running video ads, and it’s important to understand how to take advantage of both in your video marketing strategy. Here’s how their video ads compare.

Where they’re different

A YouTube video view is longer than a Facebook video view.

On YouTube, a video view is counted when a user watches 30 seconds or the full video (if shorter) or if they click on any part of the ad. On Facebook, a video view is counted when a user watches at least 3 seconds. Pretty different, right?

When comparing video views and cost-per-view (CPV) between these two channels, you shouldn’t expect to see the same results in both, nor should you weigh both equally.

Design for Sound On for YouTube, but Sound Off for Facebook. Go mobile-first for both.

People come on YouTube to watch video, whereas on Facebook users are often on the go and scrolling through the News Feed with volume off.

Interesting fact: 95% of YouTube ads are watched with sound on. Google lift studies also show that users exposed to both audio and visual on mobile show about 2x higher brand awareness and 3x higher ad recall. Audio should be a key component of your ad.

For Facebook, you’ll want to make sure your video communicates its message clearly without the use of audio. Adding closed captions can help.


On both platforms, the majority of traffic is on mobile, so make sure you design for that experience. A TV ad with a slow build-up to the finish generally won’t work well on either Facebook or YouTube. Cut your TV spots to shorter formats and don’t repurpose as-is.

Vertical and square formats work better on Facebook; stick to horizontal on YouTube.

On Facebook, vertical or square formats work best since most people are watching videos on mobile. In practice, we’ve seen Facebook even favoring vertical videos by charging lower CPMs for them.

On YouTube, horizontal is still king. As of this writing, vertical ads are not available in YouTube – though you can upload vertical videos for organic viewing purposes.

Ad engagement is visible on Facebook and optional for YouTube.

On Facebook, users can like, share, and comment on your ads. Unfortunately, there’s no way to opt out of this, so be sure to monitor comments and respond when it makes sense.

On YouTube, your video can be unlisted to hide it from your public channel, and you can also disable comments. If one of your goals is to promote your channel, it’s best to keep it public so that the engagement and views add social proof.

Facebook offers more campaign objectives.

You can run video ads in almost every type of campaign on Facebook: app install, website conversion, video views, etc. On YouTube, the default is optimize for views. To optimize for clicks/conversions, you’ll need to run a TrueView for Action campaign. YouTube app install traffic is only available through Universal App Campaigns .

Where they’re similar

Run website and video remarketing.

As long as you have the correct pixels placed, you can run standard website remarketing on both Facebook and YouTube. For video remarketing, you can retarget viewers of a specific ad or any ad on YouTube. On Facebook, you can even choose % of video watched when creating a video remarketing audience. Both work well as part of a direct response strategy.

Capture attention quickly, and introduce brand early.

Facebook refers to this mentality as “Be thumb-stopping.” You want your video to be engaging enough that a user stops scrolling through the News Feed to watch your ad. Since YouTube allows users to skip after 5 seconds, you also need to hook users immediately. Either front-load your story arc (branding) or outline your set-up/offer/problem (direct response) in those first few seconds.

One way to measure how engaged your viewers are is View rate, which is calculated by total number of Views/Impressions. The platform average is about 25% for both, so if you’re at or above this, that’s a good sign.

Expand reach with Display Network (YouTube) and Audience Network (Facebook)

Generally, in-platform inventory is premium but if you’re looking to increase your scale without changing your targeting, you can opt into third-party ad networks. On YouTube, you’d be adding in Google Display Network traffic. On Facebook, you’d be tapping into the Facebook Audience Network. Keep in mind that with Facebook, there’s no insight into actual placement, so proceed with caution.

Optimize for conversions.

On Facebook, make sure to set up your campaign with Conversions as the marketing objective so you can run oCPM bidding. On YouTube, this option is only available if you are running the new TrueView for Action campaigns. Select Target CPA bidding, which is also the default.

There’s no clear winner in Facebook vs. YouTube video advertising; both offer extensive reach and targeting that complement each other in a video strategy. In general, though, YouTube is great for achieving cheap awareness at scale, while Facebook offers more niche targeting and more conversion-focused optimization. Here’s a recap of how they compare.

Facebook vs. YouTube Summary

Our recommendation is generally to use both as part of a full-funnel strategy – or at least to test both to make sure they’re viable. Ignoring either is leaving a pile of un-engaged users on the table.


  1. Aaron Bart April 19th, 2018

    Great post Ashley, super relevant and helpful for our team!

  2. Adil khan April 21st, 2018

    Hi Ashley,
    Can you also compare the two platforms based on video length? In my experience, have found that longer videos might be more suited for YT – due to better retention rates.

  3. Ashley Mo April 30th, 2018

    @Aaron Thanks! Glad it was helpful.

    @Adil I always recommend testing video length but yes, longer videos can work on YouTube whereas they don’t really work on Facebook. Reasons for this are that the Facebook user is consuming content on-the-go in their newsfeed so they don’t want to stay watching your video, whereas someone on YouTube is there to watch videos so if they like your ad, they’ll continue to watch. But if your goal on YouTube to to drive action (e.g. visit your website) you may find that shorter videos (:15 or :30) work better.

Leave a Comment

Ashley Mo
Ashley Mo is a digital marketer who's always looking for new ways to engage other people. Ashley graduated from the University of Michigan with degrees in Economics and Psychology, along with a passion for understanding how people think. In her spare time, Ashley enjoys exploring new trails, learning to bake new treats, and ballroom dancing at the local club.