YouTube's Updating Its Ad Format to Better Sell You Stuff on Vertical Videos

The new ad-technology is a clear sign of just how deep the ongoing TikTok-ification of the internet runs. Even the ads are adapting.

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Advertisers will now be able to select from one of four vertical ad templates to automatically make their horizontal YouTube ads “Shorts” ready.
Gif: Google Inc.

It’s well established that, if a major tech company sees another platform succeeding based on a (relatively) original idea, it’s going to want to shamelessly copy that idea. And it’s probably also going to want some upgraded ad-tech to go with it.

Google is expanding the number of ways that vertical ads can end up on its video platforms. The company is piloting a feature for advertisers that uses artificial intelligence to take horizontal ads, formatted for standard YouTube videos, and automatically translate them into vertical ads, optimized for YouTube Shorts, the company’s TikTok clone. Google, which owns YouTube, announced the change in a Thursday blogpost.


“We’re experimenting with a new machine learning technology that reformats landscape video ads into square or vertical formats based on how someone is watching YouTube,” the company wrote. And added that, “businesses who may not have dedicated resources to create multiple assets can easily benefit from this technology, which automatically adapts their existing assets for several different formats.”

Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have already all done their best to rip off TikTok, following the platform’s runaway success (especially with young users.)


And now, to accompany Google’s TikTok transition, we have YouTube ads, auto-chopped and screwed. The AI-feature appears to make wide ads narrow by focusing in specifically on peoples’ faces as well as logos and text in the original video.

According to Google’s own internal data, video ads are significantly more effective when they match the format of the platform they appear on. “We found that when advertisers added a vertical creative asset to their Video action campaigns, they delivered 10-20% more conversions per dollar on YouTube Shorts than campaigns that used landscape assets alone.”

In other words: By introducing this new, AI-powered ad converter to marketers, Google is hoping its users will be convinced to buy more stuff.


In their announcement, the company also encouraged advertisers to consider putting resources into their own vertical ads. Google even offered tips for maximizing ad success like making videos extra quick and “embracing emotion,” copping even more from the TikTok school of virality.

“Keeping the fast pace of Shorts in mind, there’s no need to set up a premise or establish a storyline with lots of extra context. Jump into the action quickly and your audience is more likely to stick around,” the company wrote.

At this point, the whole internet is converging into a single TikTok-shaped point (with a BeReal-style dual camera option)—advertisements included.