YouTube Shorts: Specific Placements Are on the Way

YouTube is reportedly (finally) testing a pilot program for a select group allowing advertisers to run ads specifically on YouTube Shorts. The test is currently in Alpha, but once it’s rolled out, advertisers will be able to target Shorts Ads based on demographics (age and gender), location, and content categories. 


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YouTube Shorts Placement Options

YouTube Shorts is currently offered as a placement option in YouTube campaigns, but we haven’t had the ability to target only Shorts - so this is an exciting update as well as an obvious play at taking on TikTok’s short-form video dominance.

In this post, I’ll look at how advertisers should approach marketing on Shorts, the pros and cons of spending on Shorts instead of TikTok, and what YouTube could provide advertisers to make Shorts an even more viable option.


The Right Way to Approach Shorts Placement Advertising

Shorts can be a useful placement at any stage of the purchasing journey, depending on the type of content used in ads.

At the top of the funnel, advertisers should consider employing longer, more educational, informative, discovery videos to engage net-new users who have a need for the product/service. These campaigns would drive awareness/impressions, engagement, and website traffic that can feed into eventual retargeting pools.

At the bottom of the funnel, I’d recommend using shorter, punchier, videos that showcase social proof, customer testimonials, create FOMO, and let the warmer audiences know why they should take the leap and convert. These campaigns would drive conversions, whether that’s leads, purchases, or another preferred conversion type.

While Shorts-specific placements are a relatively promising release, as on any platform, you should keep a close eye on the placements and where your ads are serving (particularly given 2023’s blockbuster reports on dangerous/fraudulent YouTube and Search Partners placements). Make sure to add exclusions to prevent your ads from showing around sensitive topics/content. Bot/fraudulent traffic is always going to be a challenge as well - we typically recommend implementing a click fraud service to help prevent and limit it across our accounts that see heavy amounts of fraud traffic.  


Shorts vs. TikTok: The Pros and Cons

The biggest advantages Shorts has over TikTok out of the gate is integration with Google’s audience and targeting capabilities. For example, custom intent audiences based on top keywords, which leverages search intent, is a Shorts targeting option that isn’t available on TikTok. There’s also a ton of opportunity to build a competitor-focused strategy on Shorts; you can target specific competitor or industry-related YouTube channels, or you can use your competitors’ terms in custom intent audiences to reach people searching for them.

The biggest disadvantages Shorts is facing are audience behavior and expectations, and virality. TikTok virality is established, and users are willing and eager to share TikTok videos already. At this point, I don’t think YouTube’s platform has the same potential for things to go viral and take off, which will curtail organic reach. Ultimately, TikTok relies more on its algorithm and the audiences interacting with its content than any sophisticated targeting. 


Recommendations for Shorts

Since it’s the holiday season and we’re making wishes, I’d love YouTube to level up and make it super-simple for marketers to build ads within the platform (adding music, transitions, text, cuts, add-ons/stickers) vs. just uploading a video all in one. TikTok is much more user-friendly in this area – which adds to its virality advantage – but Google has enough resources to close that gap quickly if they so choose.



We’ll be testing Shorts ads as they become more broadly available – follow the JDM blog to get insights on how they perform!


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