Since YouTube first began monetizing content in 2007, online advertisers have sought to leverage YouTube’s scale as a platform to drive brand-focused objectives. Over the past decade, there have been several iterations of the ad placements available as part of this product suite, with 2016 seeing the first beta opportunity to drive action-oriented key performance indicators. The “TrueView for Action” offering was subsequently rolled out to the production environment earlier this year, allowing advertisers to pair a video creative with a call-to-action at the video footer and at the end of their video. As marketers, this presents the unique opportunity to leverage this capability in tandem with an engaging video creative for the first time.
At The Search Agency, we recently had the opportunity to test this offering on behalf of an advertiser seeking to drive trials of their telecommunications app. The overarching strategy was to measure YouTube’s impact on an audience using a performance-focused ad format paired with low-funnel targeting tactics. In addition, we sought to incorporate a brand interest lift study, with the intent of further decomposing the characteristics of the most valuable users to this advertiser.
Using a “test and learn” strategy, we fostered an eight-week campaign using historically-proven display audiences. The first two weeks were used to gather learnings, followed by a six-week period to aggressively seek acquisitions (trials). The initialization phase focused on optimizing toward completed video views, allowing us to gather points of data and to populate a broad pool of potentially desirable users. Next, we transposed the campaign objective to a CPA bid to deliver video views to higher intent users. By overlaying this strategy with proven display audiences, it allowed the isolation of better performing audiences — learnings which could shape future investment:
- Competitive Affinity
- Custom Keyword Intent
- Site Visitor Remarketing
- Video Viewer Remarketing
Following the conclusion of the eight-week test, we saw a 40-percent lower cost per view than competitors, paired with a Cost Per Acquisition (trial) lower the advertiser’s original target. In addition, we observed that using video as a channel to drive a direct response, there was a 13 percent increase in the probability that a viewer would complete a trial. There was an 1,800 percent increase in search volume on brand-related keywords among users who were exposed to the YouTube ad, compared to similar users who did not see the ad at all. New, high-performing geographies were identified as well as additional performing keywords, which could be incorporated as part of future marketing initiatives.
In conclusion, “TrueView for Action” can certainly help advertisers accomplish set performance goals, and in this example the outcome was extremely encouraging. That said, marketers should maintain an element of caution to ensure this product is appropriate for their advertisers. While we did observe a competitive CPA, which was lower than the originally-agreed target, video is a considerably more engaging format and does attract a hefty premium when compared to its display counterpart. Performance-driven advertisers may be disappointed if they’re drawing a direct comparison to these channels.