YouTube Advertising vs Hotstar Advertising


This is an exciting time for video OTT platforms. With video becoming the preferred mode of information and entertainment, the pressure on publishers to provide the audience with a varied assortment of content-on-demand is growing.

Two of the biggest stalwarts in the on-demand video category are YouTube and Hotstar. Till date, YouTube was known for its wide reach across the country (265 million monthly active users) but with the recent season of IPL in March-May 2019, Hotstar has been able to garner 300 million monthly active users.

Hence, one major question that we encounter is: Which is a better platform for Video Advertising? Is YouTube advertising better because of the mass reach or Hotstar advertising is the best option owing to the rich assortment of content? The answer, however, is not so simple. Hence, we have listed down some of the major differences between YouTube advertising and Hotstar advertising apart from pricing.

Campaign ObjectiveStory TellingBrand Messaging
Advertising FormatLong Video Ads AllowedMax Ad Length 1 minute
Targeting OptionsInterest basedBehavior based
Re-targeting OptionRe-targeting possible for website visitorsRe-targeting possible for Hotstar ad viewers only
Content FormatShort format videosLong format videos and Live Sports Coverage
Usage PurposeVaried from entertainment to educationEntertainment
Brand SafetyNo controlHigh quality authentic curated content
Engagement LevelLowHigh

Advertising Format

If you have a long format ad like this one, you can run it on YouTube

Advertisements on Hotstar can be as long as 1 minute and are non-skippable while those on YouTube can be either skippable or non-skippable. A non-skippable advertisement on YouTube can be only 15-20 seconds long and there is no upper limit on the length of skippable ads which can be skipped after 5 seconds.

Tips: Hence, if you have a video ad that is up to 1 minute long and has important details, Hotstar can be the best option for you. If you have a long video with case studies, interview or storytelling (like the one here), you can opt for YouTube advertising.

Targeting Options

Targeting ParametersHotstarYouTube
Geo TargetingCity levelPin Code level also available
Interest Based TargetingAvailable- Based on the category of the apps present on the audience handsetAvailable- Based on the category of the apps present on the audience handset

Both Hotstar and YouTube offer similar targeting options. However, targeting options offered by YouTube are more advanced in case of geographical reach and audience interest.

  • Geographic targeting on YouTube: YouTube ads can target people located in particular pin codes too. Hence, YouTube advertising can be beneficial for local businesses like shops, restaurants etc. and brands looking for hyperlocal targeting.
  • Behavior-Based Targeting on Hotstar: behavior-based targeting on Hotstar takes into consideration the types of apps present on the audience handset.
  • Interest-Based Targeting on YouTube: Interest-based targeting on YouTube can be of many types:
    • Affinity-based: Audience who have an interest in some topics
    • Custom Affinity-based: Pre-defined audience based on habits/interests
    • Life Events based: Audience at a particular stage of life like getting married, graduating, etc.
    • In-market based: Audience who is already looking for some particular products
    • Custom Intent-based: Audience targeted based on some keywords

Tips: Brands looking for local area wise targeting can opt for YouTube advertising. Apps can use Hotstar advertising to reach out to similar audience using app category-based targeting.

Re-targeting Option

Retargeting basics by Neil Patel

YouTube advertising can help you target your website visitors as well as the audience previously exposed. While Hotstar cannot target your website visitors, it can re-target the audience who have been exposed to your ads earlier.

Tips: If you want to re-target your website visitors through video advertising, go for YouTube advertising.

User Engagement

YouTube is mostly known for short-format videos which people browse over a period of time while Hotstar has long-format videos in the form of series, movies, sports and news that people actively watch.

Picture1 1

YouTube is not only an entertainment OTT platform but also serves as a search engine, tutorial, guide, music player and review forum. Often people run YouTube in background and

Hotstar, on the other hand, is a source of entertainment and news. Hence, when it comes to user engagement, Hotstar scores higher hence, ads played on Hotstar have higher chances of being watched by the audience.

Brand Safety

A 2017 YouTube controversy

YouTube is open to all platform for creating content. Hence, sometimes it becomes difficult for advertisers to select the type of content where they would like their ads to be played. Although YouTube has taken many steps to curb this including AI based filters, many brands still face the problems.

Hotstar, on the other hand, has authentic and original content and ads are played in a controlled environment.


As we compared the two most popular video platforms in India, we saw that both the platforms weighed better as compared to the other on few parameters. Hence, the answer to the question- which platform is better for the brands would always depend on the brands and their requirements and targeting. Through this article, we have tried to lay down the major differences between Hotstar and YouTube in terms of advertising.

In case you have any other questions related to Hotstar advertising or YouTube advertising, write to us at


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