YouTube helps small businesses create ads with a new, free tool

Free to build, but still pay to play.


On Tuesday, YouTube announced Video Builder, a beta tool meant to help small businesses reach out to their customers. The straightforward tool streamlines ad creation and makes it easy to share with your team for tweaks before it goes live. Video Builder currently only supports ads up to 15 seconds long and larger brands and agencies can also use it to supplement their studio work.

This is largely filling a massive need for businesses to communicate how they’re operating in the pandemic and push new services like delivery or pick-up.

While this is a great stopgap for immediately affected jobs like video producers and editors, the mass-production of cookie-cutter video ads makes it easier for copywriters, graphic designers, and other creatives in the industry to lose work. The mention that big brands and agencies can make use of Video Builder also means we’re about to enter a world of homogenous ads with bad copy and even fewer working creatives.

Template ads — The YouTube Video Builder offers a few different layouts based on what a business is trying to accomplish, from sharing a promotion to highlighting a specific product. Each layout has a different mix of requirements for photos and text, which it displays before the user chooses it so they know how many media assets to have handy.

Three of the six layout options.YouTube

Who’s paying for these ad placements? — In some cases, small businesses may still have to pay to actually run the ads. Though Google announced it would supply small to medium businesses with $340 million in ad credits, that only applies to those who already had accounts. With movie studios and automakers pulling the plug on advertising, ad placements should be more affordable and plentiful, but it’s still an expense many business owners would likely rather cut.

An ad mockup showcasing phone interaction.Google