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YouTube Audio Ads Beta Is Live and Available
After testing the format since 2019, YouTube’s audio ads are now available in beta to all advertisers globally.

Its arrival struck a chord at the perfect time as consumer’s reliance on YouTube for music, particularly after a nearly concert-less 2020, gives these ads the potential to reach users who may not be watching the video in the foreground. And while many—85% of the monthly 2 billion people–consume music in the foreground, background listeners are still a sizable audience.

While the format allows for an effective way to reach this audience, it also strips down a barrier to entry for brands with limited video options. Just because the format is different, though, does not mean it’s purchased any differently. In fact, ad space is bought the same as video, on a dynamic CPM with the same targeting and bidding approaches available in YouTube’s ad-buying suite.

Since the ads are meant primarily for ears, the only visual requirements are a static image or simple animation for a companion banner to run alongside the sound. Like other YouTube ads, the pay threshold will be the :30 mark. And, although music listeners are the primary targets here, these ads are not yet available on the YouTube Music streaming service.

The audio ads have been shown to boost awareness, increasing brand awareness lift in more than 75% of measured campaigns during the testing phase. This impact is alluring, especially considering YouTube reaches 74% of US internet users a month, with the average adult spending nearly 42 minutes a day on YouTube across all devices, according to eMarketer.

YouTube’s push for audio ads runs parallel to their overall push in music. They’ve since launched dynamic music lineups, which are dedicated groups for different genres like K-Pop, Top 100 and Hip-Hop. As was likely intended, audio ads are an ideal complement to these lineups.

The new format provides yet another opportunity for brands to engage on the mega-popular platform. YouTube is looking into performance-related opportunities as the audio tool expands, but, for now, it’s a tactic worth exploring now if your main KPI is driving awareness and/or consideration. We recommend testing into the ads, ensuring measurement is a primary component of the campaign. Since it’s in its relatively nascent stages—and to keep audience options open—it should be a complement to your media mix and not a replacement for other streaming audio platforms.

The benefits of YouTube audio ads include:

  • Surround Key Audiences – Audio ads provide another touchpoint to add incremental reach and frequency to YouTube campaigns. It also can reach users who fall through the cracks that may have missed a video message while not paying active attention to the screen.
  • Extend Streaming Audio Reach – This provides another avenue for reaching avid music listeners. Layering on YouTube will increase awareness and provide scale, especially when targeting a niche audience.
  • Capitalize on the New Format – YouTube audio ads open the door to new brands and creative messaging opportunities. As mentioned, it’s more accessible for brands with limited video assets. It also provides a playground for leveraging multiple messages or creative testing.


It’s worth noting YouTube audio ads feature some notable differences from streaming giants like Pandora and Spotify. YouTube ads are not sold on a flat CPM, as mentioned, and can vary drastically from brand to brand based on the nature of bidding environments. The general functionality of the platform also differs from the usual music streaming services. Nonetheless, the principles for audio creative should still hold true, and including a clickable banner is a wise imperative if an action is desired. It should be noted the beta is not open to brands in sensitive verticals such as healthcare/medicine, alcohol and gambling.

If the fit feels right, consider giving your media strategy a little remix on your next campaign with YouTube audio ads.