Google Search Ads vs YouTube Ads (Comparing The Two)

Google Search Ads vs YouTube Ads

Google ads present the fabled promised land for digital crusaders! The next success story can be yours. All you have to do is follow the protocol properly. So, how do you even start? It’s simple.

First, understand how Google Ads work. Then, find out how you fit in the grand scheme of things. Finally, apply this understanding to script your success.

You might want to begin your Google Ads research by selecting the right ad format. As it is, search ads are the most popular type. However, there are other formats too. Video ads are also good head-turners.

So, let’s compare the two.

Two different formats of the same ad platform

When we say ‘Google Ads,’ most mean search ads. This is the generic term of this common format almost always enlisted on SERPs.

However, technically, Google Ads is an umbrella term. It covers the following key formats.

  • Search ads
  • Display ads
  • Video ads
  • App ads
  • Shopping ads
  • Call-only ads

Here, we discuss search ads and video ads only. Both types have their unique advantages that can draw your target audience nearer to conversion. The choice is always yours, though.

Compare them to pick your campaign type. Video ads mostly appear on YouTube, and also on partner websites.

Search and video campaigns are different by their applications. You need to be familiar with their places relative to the targeted audience psyche. Once you figure this out, it is easy to decide.

Search ads mimic organic results

The main charm of search ads is that they look like the all-too-familiar Google organic results. What’s the difference between organic and promoted results? Organic results come by SEO when you type in a query.


SEO can take months, if not years, to access the front page of Google. Promoted results are much quicker. A good campaign can start to show up in weeks, if not within a few days.

Also, most search ads appear on a priority basis. They are on top of the organic listings, immediately catching attention. In addition, these can also appear beneath the organic listings.

However, all ads appear with a little ‘Ad’ motif on the top left. Notwithstanding, these can still achieve good Click Through Rate (CTR). But, it will depend on how effective your ad is.

Video ads carry the legacy of TV ads

Video ads on YT carry a different type of familiarity. As it is, everyone is familiar with TV ads. We grow up seeing ads on the TV, and they become a part of popular culture. Video ads attend to that part of our mind where we look forward to a nice, new TV ad.

Of course, YT ads and TV ads are quite different! For starters, it is much cheaper. Secondly, you can target your audience with a magnifying lens. Also, you can calculate the exact ROAS among other vital ad analytics.

In addition, Google video ads have been instrumental in creating a whole new marketing category. Influencer marketing is the latest craze on YT and Insta, among other places.

Hereby, popular online personalities use their YT channel to send out a good word for different products they use. Top influencers earn in the brackets of millions for brand endorsements. The usual way to promote these channels is via video ads.

However, there are legions of micro and medium-level influencers making a handsome living.This trend is an offshoot of celebrity endorsements we see on TV. But, it is far more effective.

An online persona can engage in direct convo with her fans. Fans would do anything to let their idols know of their appreciation. They would also love to dress up as their idols and use the endorsed products.

As a result, this marketing format is often a major sales-churner.

This facility is not available in search ad campaigns.

Storytelling done with video ads

Here is another key benefit of video ads. It has amazing storytelling potential. In search ads, you merely present your website attractively.

However, you can present your entire business vision in a few seconds with video ads. Obviously, you need to have a great ad made!

Raising brand awareness is crucial for a successful campaign. Video ads can provide excellent support in this category. You can also roll out your campaign in phases.

Rely on your current video’s analytics feedback to create the next set, and so on.  In this respect, video ads are more personal than search ads are. The search campaign is a matter-of-fact presentation.

But, it still relies on creating a stellar ad copy. However, the scope of search campaigns is not conducive to storytelling.

Active intent (search ads) vs Passive intent (video ads)

Search ads and video ads cater to different levels of user engagement. It’s active intent when people are ‘actively’ looking for something on Google search.

So, there’s a greater possibility that the given user will click on the ad and purchase. This is usually the case with search ads. However, they also appear when people type in general queries.

However, this is not the same with YouTube. Folks don’t use the video search platform to look actively for products. The key intent is to look for videos, be it movies, songs, ghost videos, or anything else.

Therefore, the intent is passive in there. The placement of ads is done strategically paired with relevant videos. This effectively helps in generating brand awareness, later converting into sales.

Video ads can be disruptive (skip ad feature)

Youtube Video ad Example before playing a video

Point to note, video ads can be disruptive. People go to YT to watch their favorite videos, and not for ads. So, when an ad appears at the start or in-between the video, it creates disruption.

In other words, it is annoying and does not help your campaign goals. Precisely, this is why YouTube has the ‘Skip Ad’ feature on most ads. So, if a user repeatedly skips ads, it means there’s no buying intent involved.

This issue is something that bugs every video ad marketer. However, there is little you can do here! At the most, you can choose an ad type where the ‘skip ad’ option is unavailable.

Even there, the user always has the liberty to mute the video! So, how can one make interesting videos?

Focus on the first few frames. Even in ads that you can skip, the first five seconds are still visible. It is your window to hook the viewer into seeing the rest of it.

Of course, you will have to rely on a percentage. Not everyone will go through the entire ad, no matter what! But, your chances are better.

Hooks you can use include a catchy jingle, animation, and compelling delivery of the add script. You can use a combination of all these in perfect measure. The bottom line is to hire a highly creative ad service for the job.

Also, developing a good clickbait is essential. Clickbait is the first visible frame that is meant to attract the viewer. Many YouTube videos use a picture as clickbait that does not appear anywhere in the video! It is an effective strategy as long as you are using it properly.

Extensions in search ads are great


Search ads have this awesome facility called extensions. There are two main types, manual and automatic. Google will add the latter type if it thinks the extension can improve ad performance. Manual extensions require some setup knowledge.

So, what are extensions? For example, you are running a Google search ad campaign for your physical store. As extensions, you can add your store’s address and your phone number.  

These can be major traffic sources, if the ad copy is attractive. Therefore, focus on crafting a cool ad copy. Use catchy words, explain your service in a few great words, and so on!

Adding extensions is optional in Google search ads. Also, they do not require any additional cost. However, they can never guarantee that your ad will perform well though.

That said, extensions can still offer a strong push to the ad and make it a popular one.

Video ads have different formats

So, you decided to go ahead with video ads. As it is, this ad format has several sub-formats.

  • Skippable in-stream ads
  • In-feed video ads
  • Non-skippable in-stream ads
  • Outstream ads
  • Masthead ads
  • Bumper ads

The first category of ads can appear before, during, or after the relevant video content on YT watch pages. As it is obvious, viewers can skip these ads after the first five seconds.

Usually, the CPV mode of payment is selected. In Cost Per View, the marketer has to pay the bid amount everyone watches at least 30 seconds of the video.

You also pay when the video is less than 30 seconds long, and the viewer sees it in full.You can’t skip the non-skippable ads, but they cannot be more than 15 seconds long.

Bumper ads are very short, not more than 6 seconds long. They appear before, after, or during a video. Viewers can’t skip these ads. So, you must be able to pack in a punch within 6 seconds or less.

In-feed video ads are to be found in places of discovery. These can be present next to related YouTube videos, or as a part of YT search results. The outstream ads are available only for mobile viewers.

Also, these appear on partner sites and apps. They do not appear on YouTube. The masthead ad appear as a big video banner on the top of your YouTube home page.

It can appear as a widescreen or in the 16:9 ratio. It plays for 30 seconds with or without sound. Moreover, it consists of an information panel on the right, automatically including your video assets from the channel.

After discussing it with a Google sales representative, these ads are exclusively available on a reservation basis.

You can livestream video ads

Here’s another key advantage of video ads over search ads. As it is, Google allows livestreaming in video ads. Display ads on partner websites can also live stream.

A live session is an incredible way to engage viewers’ attention. You will only have to ensure that the news of your live session gets sufficient coverage.

Use your channel to promote your upcoming live stream session, and follow YouTube specifications for the same. Also, self-service live streams are not eligible in ad formats.

You will have to hire a competent encoding company to do the job. Besides, the encoding service must be trained by YouTube for the same. If it does not already have the training certificate, it must get the same from YT before the streaming session.

Besides, YouTube has certain technical requirements.

  • You must follow specified settings for encoding and bitrates
  • All individual ad formats should have a unique video ID
  • You cannot use VPAID
  • Marketers cannot change metadata and thumbnail from 36 hours before the event

Check out the other requirements for live streaming in ads. Done well, it is an effective tool in the arsenal of video marketers. This is because live streams has significant potential to generate direct engagement.

Live streaming is extremely effective in certain niches where you would want to train your viewers to something new.

You can choose both ad types for the same campaign

It is necessary to realize that search ads and video ads need not be competitive. Instead, they can complement each other in omni-channel marketing. You can run multiple campaigns from the same ad account.

This includes both search ads and video ads. This is a very powerful strategy to drive conversions. You can use the video ads to generate interest in your product/service.

As interested people would like to know more about you on Google, the search ads will guide them home.


Both search ads and video ads are relevant to marketing. However, marketers may need to prioritize based on their unique requirements. Follow the criteria mentioned here to understand the key differences between these two essential ad types.

Search ads are ideal for attending to active user intent. Whereas, video ads can deliver a strong boost to passive intent. You can also combine the two and run omni-channel campaigns.

If you need help with managing your Google ads account,m contact me any time and I would be happy to help you : )

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