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:

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 WWsE1gnJWhw.
  • 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.

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