Resolution POV: YouTube Expands How It Defines A “View”

YouTube Trueview


Five years ago this week, YouTube made a splash when it launched a new video ad format called TrueView Video Ads. TrueView empowered consumers in the advertising equation by giving them the choice to watch or skip a pre-roll advertisement, charging advertisers only when the viewer chose to watch for at least 30 seconds versus when an impression was served.

Now YouTube is making another splash by revising its tracking model. Starting in May 2015, YouTube will aggregate, track and report on views and engagements as part of the public view counter. This expands the tracking and reporting options available to advertisers to accommodate a wider range of campaigns and the instances in which it will charge advertisers for views. TrueView advertisers will be charged not just for views but also for the variety of other actions — such as “certain clicks” — that viewers can take in the ad unit. While this change won’t impact viewer experience, it will bear on how marketers buy advertisements and ultimately optimize their campaigns. The change will affect only the TrueView In-stream ads, which run as pre-roll on the slate of uploaded video content across YouTube and broader Google Display Networks.

How it Works

Advertisers will be charged, and a “view” incremented, when the user:

  • Watches 30 seconds of the ad, or views to completion if the ad is less than 30 seconds
  • Clicks on any of the following: a call-to-action overlay, a front or end card, a mobile app install button, a companion banner, or any link in the video viewer. See Figure 1 below:
Figure 1: Actions that will increment the view count and charge for a view
Figure 1: Actions that will increment the view count and charge for a view

Advertisers will NOT be charged or increment a view when a user clicks on the following:

  • Annotations
  • Like (positive) or dislike (negative)
  • Full screen
  • InVideo Programming (does not serve on TrueView in-stream ads)
  • Watermark

Resolution POV and Considerations for Advertisers

It’s too early to tell exactly how this new update will impact different types of advertisers and the YouTube experience in general, but we expect it will initially bring minor campaign cost implications, significant potential for new campaign optimization strategies, and little if any impact on the TrueView video counter as a gauge for video content popularity.

Based on our portfolio of TrueView clients, Resolution expects the average TrueView campaign cost-per-view to increase just 3-5 percent as a result of these engagements being reclassified as views. The reclassification will likely inflate overall view counts and costs while deflating video completion rates, but since the volume of these engagements is likely to be lower than that of timed video views, we expect the initial impact to be minimal.

Advertisers leverage YouTube TrueView Video Ads for a variety of marketing and business objectives — from awareness and demand generation to  leads and sales conversions — and this YouTube tracking update allows advertisers to measure and optimize against the success metrics that matter most to them. Resolution sees big opportunity for performance-focused advertisers looking to convert video exposure to deeper engagement. These actions will soon be visible in AdWords reporting and can inform optimization decisions to an unprecedented depth and degree. These additional data points will allow advertisers to go beyond views and deliver bottom-line value by driving qualified visitors to a website or mobile app downloads.

Advertisers looking to build awareness or favorability, for instance, should optimize toward video view time to ensure their investment is focused on reaching and engaging target consumers with the full power of their video content. Direct-response focused advertisers, however, will want to optimize towards engagement metrics that deliver the most value for the brand rather than a completed view of the video. In fact, performance-driven marketers have the most to gain with the update, as engagements now register as optimizable actions. A viewer who watches less than 25 percent of a video ad but clicks on the companion banner can now be recognized as a potentially high-value engager; in the old tracking model their interaction would not have counted without playing the video for 30 seconds or more before clicking through.


The TrueView update appears to serve as Google’s response to the changing market by making it more attractive to advertisers focused on delivering performance-based value beyond a video view. No doubt the added ability to measure TrueView actions (beyond views) empowers advertisers with more insight and data into how their programs are performing, and ultimately enables deeper, more effective optimization.

By The Resolution Media Team:

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