How to Use YouTube Advertising to Drive Conversions

TImothy Johnson, Small Business Solutions / PPC Team Lead

For years now, there has been more and more buzz around video as an advertising strategy. YouTube specifically continues to grow not just its user base, but the investment from advertisers in an extremely wide range of verticals and industries. YouTube has massive reach and very strong targeting options. That said, some have held back when it comes to adding YouTube to their paid media strategy.

Historically, many Google Ads experts have thought of YouTube as a brand awareness play. That’s fair because it is fantastic at that. Captivating video ads, the low average CPMs on YouTube, and the targeting Google provides have made it a great way to get in front of qualified users.

However, those times have changed, and now advertisers can use YouTube to drive actions like click-through to landing pages, add to carts, form fills, and more. We still see YouTube as a great way to fill the top of your marketing funnel and supplement strategies like paid search. But as YouTube continues to evolve, we can now begin to expect conversion action directly from ads as either last-click conversions or assisted conversions.

This is primarily done through TrueView For Action campaigns.

What Are YouTube TrueView for Action Ads?

TrueView for Action ads are designed to engage users more directly and drive conversion action by including clear CTAs and ad text within the skippable in-stream ads you can run through the Google Ads interface.

Image of a TrueView ad for VRBO
Image of a TrueView ad for VRBO

The key to these ads is the clear CTAs directly in ads that tell users exactly what they should do.

And while TrueView for Action ads are relatively easy to set up, there are some clear best practices to run them successfully.

How to Get Started With TrueView for Action Ads

This isn’t a step-by-step guide about how to set up these ads. Instead, let’s focus on a few of the most important aspects of the process and how to be successful with TrueView for Action ads.

Conversion Tracking

This is a big one, since setting this up correctly is required to run this ad type. Conversion tracking setup is a no-brainer. Proper tracking helps inform decision-making, optimization, and things like automated bid strategies.

But for these ads, it’s important that you have the correct tracking in place. Specifically, Google requires that you are using some version of the Global Site Tag (GTag). This can come from Google Ads conversion setup, adapted from Google Analytics, or deployed through Google Tag Manager. But one way or the other, you need to have this tag installed on all pages of your site. Then you can create event triggers for desired actions like add to carts, purchases, form fills, phone calls, and more.


Budget Requirements

Next, be sure to set aside enough budget to make the test successful. Google outlines some recommendations based on giving the automated bidding process enough time and data to start driving quality results for you. In general, we suggest following these guidelines, which roughly recommend your budget be 10-15x your target CPA for the campaign.

This is challenging, though, for many advertisers and honestly fairly unrealistic if this is a new test. For instance, if you are a B2B advertiser with a goal CPA of $50, that means on the low-end, Google is recommending a $500/day budget for the campaign ($50×10). Many can’t afford this. Be wary if that is the case. We have successfully launched campaigns at lower budgets, but the optimization time is just longer. The moral of the story is, don’t come in with a tiny budget; it won’t be worth it. Set aside a real test budget and give it an honest go.

Audience Targeting

Outside of creative (which is extremely important to success), audience targeting is the last major aspect that we’ll touch on. This is where YouTube is particularly unique. YouTube’s massive audience and rich user information make it ideal for prospecting very qualified users.

There are a few categories of audience types to consider:

  • Custom intent (based on keywords or URLs)
  • In-marketing (provided by Google and based on user intent)
  • Customer match (based on email lists)
  • Remarketing (based on your own first-party user tracking)
  • And similar audiences (lookalike audiences based on these other targeting options)

This is where the marketing funnel and your goals start to come in. These audiences can and should be used in different ways depending on whom you are trying to reach and what your goals for these ads are.

Use in-market audiences and similar audiences during the awareness stage. Custom intent audiences are best used in the interest stage. Remarketing audiences and customer match audiences work well in the desire stage, and remarketing audiences should be applied during the action stage.

Even though the point of TrueView for Action ads is to drive the actions we have been talking about, it’s important that we have realistic goals and optimize accordingly. If you are targeting users at the top of the funnel, it is likely impractical to aim for a hard form fill for a large B2B brand where the purchase values are extremely high. That audience might require a softer initial conversion like an email sign-up to get them started on their purchase journey.

Tailor your messaging, creative, and desired conversion action realistically to the audience and their stage in the marketing funnel.

What to Expect with TrueView for Action Ads

Google reports some pretty impressive improvements to conversions and cost-per-conversion when TrueView for Action is present in a Google Ads strategy. Their studies show:

  • 8% increase in conversion volume
  • And 17% increase in website visits

The Takeaway

We are not the first to tell you that video is the future. It’s like saying that this year is the year of mobile. We are marketers; we get it!

My message here isn’t to repeat this. It’s instead that we should reshape the way we think of video ads, specifically on YouTube. TrueView for Action ads have been around for a few years, but as automated bidding continues to improve, they have become a legitimate way to reach new users while keeping conversions in mind.

Having a full-funnel approach to marketing is important. These ads make that more attainable than ever by keeping conversions in mind.

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