TrueView is defined by Google as a YouTube video ad and bidding format that gives the viewer an option to skip an ad after 5 seconds while allowing an advertiser to only pay for viewers who stay past 30 seconds or engage with the ad prior.

User Value:

For the first time in advertising history, users now have a choice. Google & YouTube have invested heavily in the “TrueView” format allowing users to skip after the first 5 seconds of a pre-roll ad before the video content the user is attempting to access. The user now must decide whether the ad makes sense to them. From the beginning of the search dominance, Google has always positioned themselves as a user first platform. By making their landing page all white at, they have created a relationship with a user that keeps them coming back and are applying the same methodology to their YouTube efforts. is built to move users off that page as soon as possible with a search. No distractions create’s an intense focus on the task. Similarly, the YouTube approach isn’t very different at the high level, keep users as long as possible on the platform by moving them from one engaging piece of content to the next. But more importantly, when it comes to advertisement, an advertiser must appeal to the user like never before and be very quick and elaborate with the 5-second skip button present. The skip button remains through the first thirty seconds as well as through the remainder of the video.


TrueView engagement from the many users who see an ad create what is called a view rate. Users who make it past thirty seconds or engage before this point in the creative are considered a view in comparison to an impression 2 to 30 seconds (of a video that is longer than 30 seconds). View rate is a key indicator to Google of relevance along with a few other key metrics also talked about later in this piece. With engagement so heavily weighed when consideration of price and placement of your ad in competition in the marketplace for a particular audience, an advertiser must take advantage of 1,2 or maybe 3 of the below attributes of a video ad on YouTube.

  • Entertain – Capture your audience with entertainment that adds comedic, wow factor, celebrity, or product highlight value
  • Educate – Make users a better version of themselves by adding to their repertoire of skills by training and adding value
  • Inspire – Touch users in your target audience by moving them emotionally while linking to a fundamental value proposition of your brand


If you’ve ever used YouTube, you understand the three pieces above and how they intertwine into every piece of content that provides value to a user, why should an advertisement not compete with this same level of value, specifically in 2017. YouTube was initially a site people linked to show a friend a video primarily in the educate, inspire, or entertain segments, but times have changed, and YouTube is the primary source of media for many people on a daily basis taking advantage of prime time hours 8 am to 11 pm.


Lastly, from a personal perspective, I am a YouTube Red subscriber. I reserve the right to pay for no ads at each and every opportunity possible. Google provides a valuable platform with multiple advertising options which has not only provided value to users, individual choice but also the ability to appeal to all audiences which have impacted their rapid growth and hockey sticking ad revenue.


More people return to YouTube due to the TrueView ad formats and the content associated. As media consumption professionals we are conditioned for ads, but no one until YouTube has put the control back into the user’s hand with the skip button and forced the content to be more engaging. We as the community of YouTube users decide whether an ad succeeds or is penalized heavily based on our reaction.

Advertiser Value:

  • Creative – Developing variables (actor, product, type, value) is key to understanding what type of piece will resonate with an audience or demographic. Once analyzed, you can dramatically improve results as well as your cost per view and reach before making any optimization efforts in AdWords. Moreover, key call-to-actions, qualifiers, hook statements, and other pieces of a video spot can also test before the 30-second view mark.
  • Engagement – Having a firm understanding of how your ads are performing is crucial to understanding audience sentiment and behavior with your product or service. Metrics including view rate, the percentage of video viewed, and watch time are all critical audience behaviors that help create your place in the form a bid for your audience.
  • Programmatic / RTB – The easiest cost effective way to buy video is AdWords. You can programmatically transact across publishers, videos on the YouTube platform, and different apps while adjusting your bid to maximize efficiency. The biddable environment creates unique seasonality opportunities, value settings, and bid modification tools which provide more than enough to provide a plethora of value and audience understanding to a campaign.
  • Long Form – No matter the length of your video, Google AdWords can run it as an ad. Running this type of ad on the TrueView platform yields over the top results because it gives the user the option to engage and as an advertiser, you are paying for a relevant audience. Leveraging YouTube analytics can deepen your understanding of watch time and percentage of video viewed which can provide signs of drop off and comparison against the average video on the YouTube platform of similar length.
  • Cross Platform / People Based Targeting – A new feature is currently rolling out to advertisers in 2017 across all Google advertising products. Google will be making the shift from pixel based audiences to people based or connected device audiences. People Based targeting are leveraging logged in data to provide the better cross-device performance to advertisers. Moreover, included in this shift is also the ability to leverage search data to create enhanced intent segments. Google’s first time that data across their nine platforms will be used to target users. Excited yet?

Interesting Capabilities in Audience Targeting and Analytics

Audience Targeting
  •  YT Audience – With the YouTube subscriber being the most sought after hand raising user on the web, there is no richer audience to have access to than the YouTube audience. YouTube provides segmented audiences which can be combined or negative targeted to enhance campaign performance.
  • Life Events – New in 2017 will be the release of Life Events; the ability to target users based on their key indicators across all Google platforms is the perfect tool for many advertisers. Leveraging all of Google’s products to create audiences is new and currently rolling out to advertisers. Moreover, HouseHold Income addition along with full cross-platform bidding were two additions in 2016 that continue to get significant attention and optimization effort.
  • Click Types – One of the biggest changes for YouTube in 2016 was click types and moving to end screens from annotations specifically for the mobile device. Who knows if annotations will go away, but from our early analysis across a variety of client partners, end screens do create higher engagement and what feels like a better user experience, however, with so many legacy videos holding on to the annotation format, there must be a rollout vs. just a switch over. Moreover, there are nine total click type opportunities all serving their purpose and strategy. New in 2017, any click before 30 seconds will be considered a view thus forcing marketers to re-think positioning of these click opportunities and focusing on the primary KPI whatever that may be.
  •  AdWords – Paid media results are imperative when analyzing audience groups as well as multiple variables surrounding but not limited to bid, platform, demo, and strategy. Reporting allows for a plethora of variables to feed through and while the UI is not incredibly intuitive, you can discern a lot through the video’s tab with preset columns and an analytics page which provides a deeper look into the video creative.
  • YouTube – Earned or Organic along with some paid metrics are available in a similar but less intuitive UI, a user could feel daunted by the areas within the analytics section along with the reporting, and multiple tabs Excel or CSV formats. YouTube analytics can be insightful especially when evaluating the click types and watch time metrics. YouTube Analytics also provides great ways to slice the data inside the tables located below the charts sometimes accompanied by tabs which help drill down even further for actionable insight.

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