When it comes to advertising on Google, there are a lot of options available to businesses. Two popular formats for video ads on Google Ads are in-stream and video discovery ads. Both formats have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to understand the differences before deciding which one to use.

What are in-stream ads?

In-stream ads are video ads that play before, during, or after another video on YouTube or other Google partner sites. They are often skippable after five seconds and can be up to 3 minutes long. In-stream ads can also be non-skippable, but the length is typically shorter (15-20 seconds).

What are video discovery ads?

Video discovery ads, on the other hand, appear next to related videos, in search results, or on the YouTube homepage. Instead of being played before or during a video, viewers have the option to click on the ad to watch it. Video discovery ads can be up to 1 minute long.

So, which one is better?

The answer isn’t as simple as saying one is better than the other. The choice between in-stream and video discovery ads depends on the goals of the campaign and the target audience.

In-stream ads are better suited for raising awareness and brand recognition. They are great for capturing the attention of viewers when they are in a “watching” mindset. In-stream ads are also effective for driving traffic to a website or landing page, as they can include a call-to-action.

On the other hand, video discovery ads are better for targeting viewers who are already searching for content related to a product or service. These viewers are in a “browsing” mindset and are more likely to be interested in the ad’s content. Video discovery ads can also be used in retargeting campaigns, showing ads to viewers who have already engaged with your brand.

Examples of successful campaigns

In-stream ads have been used in successful campaigns such as the “Dumb Ways to Die” campaign by Metro Trains Melbourne. The ads were played before YouTube videos and became viral due to their humor and catchy tune. The campaign increased awareness of train safety and was named the most awarded ad campaign in history at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Video discovery ads were used in a campaign by Grammarly to target viewers who were searching for grammar-related topics on YouTube. The ads were educational in nature and showed how the Grammarly app could help viewers improve their writing. The campaign resulted in a 30% increase in sign-ups for the app.


When deciding between in-stream and video discovery ads, consider the goals of the campaign and the target audience. In-stream ads are better for raising awareness and driving traffic to a website, while video discovery ads are better for targeting viewers who are already interested in a product or service. Use examples of successful campaigns to inspire your own and remember to A/B test to determine which format works best for your specific campaign.