TrueView, or not TrueView: That is the question with Video Advertising.

February 17, 2014

TrueView, or not TrueView: That is the question with Video Advertising.

I am often asked by clients, ‘What’s the big deal with Video advertising?’ Well, given that by the end 2013 22% of the global population already owned a smartphone and 6% had a tablet device (, I’d say it’s pretty crucial. Mobile video has grown rapidly in the past few years, but 2014 will be the year that it explodes.

Why? The obvious answer is greater smartphone penetration, supported by the unveiling and current rollout of various 4G networks. Whether it be walking the dog whilst checking your bank account, or writing a blog on the bus on the way to work, we are turning to mobile devices more and more to help us increase efficiency in our already busy lifestyles.

According to Cisco, more consumers in emerging market places are acquiring handsets, bandwidth is improving, and 37% of consumer media consumption already takes place on mobile devices. It’s a trend that looks likely to continue into 2014 and beyond, with Cisco predicting mobile video will increase 8-fold by 2018, accounting for over 70% of total mobile data traffic by the end of their forecasted period.

Due to the increased penetration and usage of smartphones, smartphones are expected to account for 66% of mobile data traffic by 2018, while tablets will exceed 15% of global mobile data traffic by 2016.

So, yes, a pretty big deal.

So what is TrueView exactly?

TrueView is a Video Advertising platform brought to you by Google. TrueView ads give viewers choice and control over which ads they watch and when. This is good news for the client, as they’re only charged when a viewer decides that their ad is of interest and actually watches the ad. As such, it’s easy to increase or decrease your budget according to what you want your ad to achieve, primarily engaging people who are interested in your message. As your view count goes up, you know that you are reaching those viewers who are truly engaged.

There are 3 ad formats available for TrueView advertisers, allowing you to choose the format that works best for you: TrueView in-stream, in-slate, in-search and in-display (I will go through each format in greater detail further down this post).

Does TrueView video advertising work?

Some advertisers have achieved up to 4% click-through rates with in-stream TrueView ads. For advertisers who are more performance-oriented, we’ve seen some campaigns achieve CPAs that are in line with what you might expect from search advertising.

TrueView video advertisements give viewers choice and control over which ads they watch, and when.

TrueView Video Advertising In-Search ads, why they work TrueView Video Advertising In-Stream ads, why they work TrueView Video Advertising In-Display ads, why they work

Due to this ability to skip ads, you are only paying for ads that are of interest to people when they watch the ad. This way you are not wasting budget by advertising to people who are not interested in your message.

You can focus on the people your ad is aimed at via who they are, where they are and what they’re interested in – for example, females aged 40-60 in London who enjoy travelling to Europe.

With the increased availability in full-browser mobile phones and widely available YouTube app, 25% of all YouTube views originate from a mobile device.

With TrueView, you can build brand awareness and a loyal following. Your video ads can drive video shares, channel subscriptions and create opportunities to communicate with your customers in a new and more engaging display format.

According to Google, the owners of YouTube, eight out of ten viewers prefer TrueView to other in-stream video ad formats. The company also maintains that because viewers can skip ads or select the ads they want to watch, the advertiser saves money and reaches a more targeted audience.

An online video analysis and news website,, reported that abandonment rate for skip-able pre-roll (In-stream) ads was 18% lower than the rate for ads that don’t offer that option. The site also reported that almost 50% of viewers watch pre-roll ads to the end, even if they have the option to skip the commercial.

With AdWords for video reporting, we’re able to evaluate how engaged viewers are with your video ads, where they choose to watch your videos (device, location for example), and when they drop off from watching your content. This will enable us to optimise the target demographics, remove ill-performing videos etc.

So let’s take a look at the available video formats and how they may work for you.

As I mentioned earlier in the post, there are three formats available.

Firstly, In-Search video ads format:

This ad format was previously known as the search ads portion of “YouTube Promoted Videos”, this format lets you promote a video next to search results on YouTube.


Your video’s keywords will highlight your video to YouTube viewers who may be interested in your content. This format will include a 640×90 Rectangle or 300×70 Small Rectangle depending on the ad’s position in search results.

Your ads will appear on the YouTube Search results page and you will only be charged when viewers begin watching your video.

Secondly, In-Stream video ads format:

This is the ideal format for video content you would like to promote before short or long form videos on YouTube and the Google Display Network. Your ad can appear on YouTube watch pages and on video published pages that are within the Google Display Network.


Viewers have the option to skip the ad after five seconds, or continue watching.

For ads that are 30 seconds or longer, you’ll be charged when the viewer reaches the 30 second point of the video. For videos shorter than 30 seconds, you’ll be charged when the viewer completes the video. If the viewer decides to skip the ad at the 5 second threshold you will not be charged.

And finally,

In-Display video ads format:

There are two video ad preview unit sizes available in this format. You can choose whether the video plays within the ad unit, or when a viewer clicks the unit to watch the video on its YouTube Watch page.


Use this format to promote a video next to YouTube videos or other website content across the Google Display Network. The appearance of the ad format will vary, depending on which ad sizes and display formats content publishers on the Google Display Network support. For example, YouTube is a key content publisher within the network and these ads will function and appear in the same way across the entire YouTube website.

TrueView in-display videos will only appear on YouTube Videos (Watch pages on YouTube) and Watch pages on video publishers of the Google Display Network. You will only be charged when viewers choose to click to watch your ad.

Ok, so what are the costs of using TrueView?

Many (if not most) business’ are often concerned with video advertising, primarily their perception of the cost. So what is the answer? Well, for the clients I work with, I recommend TrueView, as it gives the client the ability to target the audience they want and provides viewers with choice and control over which ads they watch, and when. Therefore controlling the client’s ad costs and reducing the chance of a wasted CPV (cost-per-view) bid.

What we know as a Cost Per Click (CPC) in AdWords Text Ads, is known as a CPV bid in TrueView. You enter the highest price that you want to pay for a view during the setup process of the AdWords for video campaign. Your bid is called your maximum CPV bid, or simply “max CPV”. This bid applies at the campaign level, but you can also set a CPV bid per ad format, similar to that of Text Ads at AdGroup level. Your maximum CPV bid is the most that you’ll be charged for a video view, but you won’t always be charged this amount. The final amount that you actually pay for a view is called the actual CPV. The actual CPV is often less than the max CPV because, as with the AdWords Text Ad auctions, you pay no more than what’s needed to rank higher than the advertiser immediately below you.

Display ads traditionally charge you for impressions but with CPV bidding, you won’t be charged for just an impression or a video interaction click on your ad. For example, if you think it’s worth 25p to have someone watch your video, you can set £0.25 as the max CPV. For an in-search or in-display TrueView video ad, you’ll pay a maximum of £0.25 when users begin watching your video. For in-stream, you’ll pay the maximum CPV when the user watches 30 seconds or sees the end of the ad, whichever comes first. You pay nothing if they don’t initiate the video, or drop off from the video before the minimum amount of time passes.

The max CPV that you set helps to determine your ad’s position among other ads on search results pages in the Search Network (including YouTube search results) and Display Network pages (which include YouTube as a publisher). The higher the bid and the more relevant the ad to the viewer, the more chance you have of receiving a click and increased CTR.

In both cases, a higher CPV will improve your ad’s chances of appearing, and increase your ad’s chances of appearing in a higher position compared to other advertisers’ ads.

Can you forecast costs using the TrueView platform?

Yes, forecasted CPV bids are produced when we set the targeting options for the particular video. But, as with all auctions, these are only estimations. More accurate forecasting becomes available once historical data becomes available.

I hope you have found this post useful. What are your experiences with video advertising? I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions.

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6 thoughts on “TrueView, or not TrueView: That is the question with Video Advertising.

  1. Iaron says:

    Hi Jason, I understand the TrueView concept on Youtube. I also know you can add a link to the video to a specific channel or website. My question is, what happens if the person clicks the trueview video ad before the 5 seconds and goes to my website? Does it count as a view on CPV?

    Great article!

    1. Jason Denny says:

      Hi Iaron,

      Thanks for the question. If you are using In-Stream format, no, the click will not count as a CPV. The way you are charged by CPV is when either the user watches the full video (if it is 30 seconds or less), or if they watch at least 30 seconds of it (if its longer than 30 seconds).

      Hope this helps,

  2. Hend says:

    Hello Jason,

    Thanks for the article, i have one question for you if you don’t mind.
    What would be the reason behind the drop of the number of clicks for a true view campaign?
    There is a huge gap between the stats from May to June, from 3000 clicks to 70 clicks.
    I don’t recall any changes which happened during this time.

    Many thanks in advance,

    1. Jason Denny says:

      Hello Hend,

      Thanks for your comment. Hmm, this is an interesting one. As you say there has been no changes made to the campaign, i would suggest taking a look at the Audience Retention Report in the Analytics section of your YouTube account. This report is an overall measure of your video’s ability to retain its audience.

      I hope the report provides you with some insight, i’d love to hear your findings.

      Many thanks,

  3. John says:

    Hi Jason. You say that “we’re able to evaluate how engaged viewers are with your video ads”. How do you measure this? Thanks

    1. Jason Denny says:

      Hi John,

      Great question. Firstly there is the AdWords Interaction & Video Ads Reports. This report focuses on your video ads and include information on playbacks, interaction rate, cost per playback and what percentage of the video visitors watched. To see these statistics, add “Video Columns” to your report, under “Advanced Settings”. From there, you can determine if you chose the right sites on which to show your client’s ads.

      Secondly there is the Audience Retention Report within the YouTube Analytics area. For further details on this report please see the following link:

      Hope this helps.

      Many thanks,

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