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The power of visual storytelling online

  —   28 February 2013   —   Creative & Design

YouTube Trueview

Using videos for marketing is by no means a new concept. However, in the last few years, visual storytelling through online video platforms like Vimeo and YouTube has soared. Online videos are a captivating way to engage web users, build brand awareness and drive traffic to your website. 

Creating videos is cheaper and easier than ever before, but plenty of thought and time needs to be invested to ensure that your videos have impact and are engaging.  With a truly engaging video created, you will be itching to get it out to the masses, however, the popularity of YouTube with its Google connections means that consideration must be taken to ensure that your audience gets to see your content.  Just take a look at the stats…

  • Over 800 million unique users visit YouTube each month
  • Over 4 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube
  • 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute

In recent months we have developed and implemented online video strategies for several of our clients with great results. But it is a big shame when clients spend good money on creating great looking videos just to whack them on YouTube and hope they get seen, and seen by the right audience. All too often this method will result in just a handful of views.

What can be done? 

Central to our approach with video strategies has been Google TrueView. If you’re not sure what it is, think Google Adwords for videos. TrueView promotes your video to viewers who are watching or searching for related videos on YouTube.

There are 4 different TrueView ad formats available:

  • In-Stream
  • In-Slate
  • In-Search
  • In-Display

There are a few pros and cons for each, but we have found in-stream to be the most effective for reaching a new audience. This ad type gives control to the user to watch or skip the ads, which may not sound great for advertisers, but Google claim that only 30% of users actually skip passed the ads and that 75% of ad watchers are more engaged on average than users who were subjected to standard ads.

The best bit is that the advertiser only pays when the user watches the first 30 seconds of the ad.  It’s a win–win situation as viewers only see videos that they’re actually curious about and you get more views from an interested audience.

In-slate ads appear at the end of a video, giving the user an option to watch three different ads. You pay for this as soon as a user clicks on your ad. In-search and in-display are very similar to traditional Adwords, where your video ad is displayed when a user searches for or watches a related video. Again, you pay when a user clicks on your ad.


The real advantage of TrueView is the targeting options available. As with most advertising tools you can geo-target a specific location. Keyword targeting is used mainly for in-search and in-display ad formats, allowing you to target users searching and watching specific content or brands. Topic targeting gives you the option to match your video to a pre-defined list of topics (eg. Business services).  Finally, interest targeting allows you to pick from a range of categories to reach users who Google identify as being interested in something similar to your product or offering.


From our experience you will pay around 0.15-0.40p per view but we have also experienced a “buy one, get one free” effect – so for every view we pay for, we’ve been earning another one by the user sticking around to watch more content or, visiting the website, or sharing the video with friends.

So if you have a selection of good videos that are not performing well and you would like to reach a wider audience then a TrueView campaign might just be the one for you.

Here are my top TrueView tips:

  1. Chose the ad formats that support your objectives
  2. Use a mixture of targeting tools to ensure that you reach your specific audience
  3. Try testing targeting and ad type combinations to see which ones work best for you.
  4. Ensure there is a strong call to action on your video (You can link TrueView to your Adwords account to create a call to action while your video plays)
  5. Finally, monitor and amend constantly!

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