How to find the YouTube link for an ad
September 23, 2021
This morning I was catching up on Twitter when a friend’s tweet caught my eye:
Just saw a lovely Kathleen Edwards ad for Ottawa in the middle of a totally unrelated YouTube video - I wish they let me share good ads, but it seems there's no easy way to do so. Feels like a missed opportunity— Andrew Burke (@ajlburke) September 23, 2021
Ads on YouTube are just videos, but are usually unlisted. Either way, it can be a real pain to find them. I had previously figured this out by digging into the debugging info (which I’ve had to use in the past for other reasons), but this isn’t straightforward. I figured I should write down the steps.
To find the video link for a YouTube ad:
- While the ad is playing, right click on the video and choose “Copy debug info” from the context menu.
Paste the content into a text editor and search for the string
addocid(Ad Doc ID).
- This is the YouTube document string that you can use to watch the ad. For example, while writing this, I saw an ad for Export Development Canada, with an addocid of
- You can view the ad by appending that string to the end of a YouTube URL like this:
So the link to the ad based on the above steps would be:
I’ve used this in the past to share ads I thought were funny or interesting. I’ve also used this to learn more about the organization/entity that paid for the ad. In some cases, I’ve up/downvoted the ad, which is only sometimes possible when the ad is displayed over another video.