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Preparing for Upcoming AdWords for Video (YouTube Ads) Updates

The AdWords for video campaign model is currently undergoing a major overhaul that began rolling out on April 15th, 2014. When completed, this transition will enable new campaign settings, as well as simplify the process for creating video ads. The update is gradually reaching more accounts now, but all accounts will be upgraded automatically starting May 15th, 2014. We have reviewed the list of changes and we'll offer some tips on preparing for the most consequential ones below, but first, a quick refresher of the video ad formats available in AdWords for video before the update:


TrueView In-Search:
  • Your video appears in a special promoted section of the video search results pages on YouTube and Google video results.
  • You pay only when a viewer chooses to watch your video.
  • Type a popular search such as "smart phones" into the YouTube search box to see a sample ad.


TrueView In-Stream: 
  • In-stream ads play like a TV-style ad before, during or after another video from a YouTube partner.
  • Viewers see 5 seconds of your promoted video and then can keep watching or skip it.
  • You pay if they watch for at least 30 seconds or to the end of the video (whichever is less).

TrueView In-Display: 

  • Your ads appear alongside other YouTube videos, or on websites on the Google Display Network that match your target audience.
  • You pay only when a viewer chooses to watch your video.
  • How your ad appears depends on the publisher.

Ad Format Options Reduced, Campaign Settings Change

With the changes rolling out now, in-search and in-display options will be grouped together as “in-display” and all of your settings will now live at the campaign level. Prior to this update, most targeting settings lived within the ad itself. This is somewhat backwards thinking if you are familiar with the traditional AdWords text ad campaign and ad group setup. Advertisers will still have the freedom to choose where their ad will appear, but the ad will now live as a campaign setting. This should help advertisers who are familiar with setting up AdWords search campaigns. If you have a great targeting strategy already set in place but would like to promote a new video, those targeting options will now be saved at the campaign level, making video transitions much easier. adwords-video-formats-networks If you currently have multiple ads, each with their own targeting options living under one campaign, we recommend that you begin preparing for the new model of campaign-based targeting before the mandatory transition date of May 15th. At that point, Google will look at all of the targeting (search keywords, interests, topics etc.) and networks (YouTube Search Network, YouTube Videos Network, Google Display Network) selected for each ad within a campaign, and apply them to the campaign as a whole. This has the potential to make all ads under the campaign have broader targeting, which could result in less-defined audiences and lead to increased and less effective ad spending.

Be Careful About Keyword Matching

Similarly, with this transition, advertisers will need to be careful about how the keywords they are currently using to target ads will be used by Google once settings move from the ad to the campaign level. Keywords for targeting in-search ads on the YouTube Search Network allow for broad match, exact match, phrase match, and negative match, but keep in mind that in-search will now live under in-display. This is where things get tricky, as the keywords advertisers use to do contextual matching for in-display ads on the YouTube Videos Network and Google Display Network only use broad match and negative match. Let’s consider an example: An advertiser is interested in targeting YouTube.com users who are interested in painting their house. “House paint” would be a relevant exact match keyword. Setting this up under the new in-display campaign model, you would choose this keyword as an exact match as usual. However, if you do not also specify that the ad should only appear on the YouTube Search Network under the campaign settings, Google could use the keyword to broad match your video ad as an in-display ad on the YouTube Videos Network. A user could potentially see your ad while viewing material on “car paint” instead of “house paint.” Clarifying your network settings would correct the issue by only loading your ad when a user searches on YouTube for “house paint”.  This is very similar to how keyword targeting works for AdWords text ads. For more information on this issue and others around the transition, check out Google's help page here.

Targeting Options Increase for YouTube Search Network

The outgoing AdWords for video model allowed for targeting such as demographics, interests, topics, and your own data in the form of remarketing lists for in-display ads. These options spill over, but will now be open for the YouTube Search Network as well. An example of how this will work: Your company’s product has a considerable amount of pre-purchase research required, or the prospective buyers often have cold feet. They have been to your website, but are curious about a second source opinion. The user goes to YouTube and searches “intense widget.” Knowing that most of your customers are indecisive, you have set up an in-display campaign, under the new model, with the following settings:
  • Select only the YouTube Search Network under the campaign settings
  • Enter the keyword “intense widget” with exact match as your keyword targeting
  • Add a final layer that only shows ads to users if they have been to your website recently
  • The final piece is to select a video and ad description that tailors well to the query “intense widget” and what it can offer the user
If all goes well, a target searcher on YouTube will match your well-defined targeting settings and will see your ad above the organic YouTube search results, but your ad will not be shown on other networks through broader contextual matches.


We’ve highlighted a few of the more significant factors to take into account with the transition to the new AdWords for video model, and one big takeaway is that the new structure will be getting closer to what we see for AdWords text ads. So, for any headaches the transition may cause early on for established programs, the new, but familiar functionality is welcome and the less redundant targeting setup will be more appealing to new advertisers entering the video ad space.
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