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How to effect YouTube Trueview for action video ads

However depending on your app and the service you provide, YouTube ad campaigns (managed through AdWords) might make sense and be worth testing. Google offers three options for YouTube ads: TrueView for Views (standard), TrueView for Action and TrueView for Reach.

Table of Content

YouTube TrueView for action is the direct response video ad format, and therefore the one that is the most relevant (or at least easiest to justify spending on) for most app publishers and startups.

In this post we explain what are YouTube TrueView for action video ads, discuss why this type of video ad campaigns could benefit you, give you several examples of ads and explain how you should set up your ads to maximize returns.


What’s great with UAC (Universal App Campaigns) for app promotion is that it allows you to reach audiences across all of Google’s ecosystem. Its use of machine learning simplifies drastically campaign management because it takes care of a lot manual placements, and bidding is simplified.

However what makes Universal App Campaigns appealing is also what prevents some advertisers from using it: you can’t control where your ads are displayed (which inventory) and you can’t target your audience as “finely”.

This is where running YouTube TrueView ads can prove useful, especially the “for action” ads which are direct response.

What Google says about TrueView for action campaigns
Google’s pitch on TrueView for Action

Direct response

Where YouTube ads used to be mostly about views and reach (besides TrueView ads for app promotion before UAC), TrueView for action lets marketers optimize for a specific user action like a purchase or a sign up.

Cross-device conversion measurement

This is kind of expected from Google, but it’s great that you can not only track conversions from a video but also track them across screens: a video ad seen on a computer that later converts on mobile can be measured.

Cross device conversion is based on Google account log in so if you’re logged in to YouTube while watching the video ad and later download the app from the Play Store (and also logged in), Google can measure x-device conversion.

Demographics choice

For your demographic targeting, you have several criteria: Gender, Age, Parental Status and Household income. You can use these in combinations or exclusions to refine your ads’ demographics.

Precise targeting (custom audiences and custom intent audiences)

This is probably what most advertisers should get excited about with these YouTube ads campaigns.

You can define your audiences by interest/affinity (including custom affinity audiences by combining interests, URLS, places or apps), based on what they’ve been searching for on Google/YouTube or planning or on how they’ve been interacting with your business (behavior on website, phone calls, etc.)

And also…

To go along these targeting capabilities you can use the Call To Action (CTA) of your choice, since that field is a “free text” field.

This means you can use different call to actions for different audience types, even though you use the same video creative.


As mentioned above if you advertise for an app through Google then UAC is often the way to go. Universal App Campaigns are especially interesting if the product/service/game is mobile-only: a mobile game, a mobile-only startup, etc.

In short: if users can’t convert on your website in any shape or form, YouTube TrueView for action ads are going to be less relevant.

So who could use this kind of video ads?

Here are a few types of apps and services that come to mind.

Subscription apps (with sign up available on website)

Any app that offers a subscription on their website can drive sign ups with TrueView for action video ads.

Your users can sign up on the website and download the app at a later time: you most likely already have the right funnel in place to get them to do that.

You can also easily advertise a free trial, through your video creative and/or the Call To Action button.

Some examples: fitness and nutrition, audiobooks, music and video streaming, dating, etc.

Travel booking companies

Most travel booking companies have a website where the service is available as well. They usually allow users to create an account as well.

TrueView for action video ads can generate conversions (example: a search) or sign ups. These apps have the advantage of being able to even better leverage demographics, for example to show flights from a particular place or discounts for a specific location.

Some examples: flight booking, car rentals, hotels, etc.


YouTube TrueView for action video ads can be great for retail apps because they can bring users directly to a specific product or category of products. With the corresponding video creative, this can be very effective!

Some examples: clothes or shoe brands, online stores, discounts/cashback apps, etc.


A few other categories: concert/shows ticket booking, finance, accounting, food delivery, etc.

What if you’re mobile-only?

If you’re mobile-only but feel that targeting users on YouTube is the right move, then you can display ads only on mobile devices (including specific OS) and bring viewers to a mobile-optimized website where they get a call to action to download the app.

It is however an extra step to getting them directly to the App Store or Google Play Store app listing like would be the case with UAC.


There are several ad formats available on YouTube:

  • In-stream ads – these are TrueView skippable video ads. Viewers can skip these YouTube ads after 5 seconds. You can find in-stream ads before (pre-roll), during or after the “main video” that viewers are watching (or about to watch);
  • Video discovery ads – these video ads can be placed on the YouTube search results and watch pages on desktop and mobile website, as well as the mobile app homepage. A thumbnail is placed (indicating that it’s an ad) and users can click/tap on it to watch the corresponding video;
  • Bumper ads – YouTube bumper ads are non-skippable 6 second video ads that are also created through AdWords. They appear during the video that a viewer is watching, and work best when combined to Trueview ads.
  • Outstream ads – this is a new video ad formats that appear as banners, interstitials and in-feed of native mobile apps as well as in banners for mobile web placements. It gives you the possibility to reach your audience even when there is no YouTube video (i.e on Google video partners). They play with the sound off.

For YouTube TrueView for action video ads, only in-stream ads are available.

TrueView for Action ads are served on YouTube, and can also appear on partner networks.


Below are four examples of how companies with mobile apps (but also a service offered through their website) are leveraging YouTube for action video ads.

We do not have the exact corresponding videos that Kayak ran for these ads.

For Iflix we do not have a screengrab of what the ad looked like, however we did find a video that was used for YouTube Trueview for Action.

A great CTA for this ad would be “WATCH NOW”.

Looking for a video agency to produce your YouTube ad? Look no further! Whether you want animation or live action (or both), we produce with you an optimized YouTube ad.


Set up conversion tracking

To use YouTube Trueview video ads for action, you need to first set up Adwords conversion tracking.

This is a good great thing though, as it allows you to not only measure how effective your video ads are but also to target your audience based on the interactions with your website.

Below is a (little old school) video by Google explaining the benefits of conversion tracking.

This is something that you do in Adwords, and you’ll notice that your Google Analytics goals will

already be in there.

Here are the detailed instructions by Google on how to set up conversion tracking for your website.

You want to select the right action(s), and have a volume that’s big enough too: Google recommends to have more than 50 conversions per week.

You can define several “conversion actions” (in Measurement -> Conversions, cf. link above). All the conversion actions for which the “Include in Conversions” field is set to yes will be taken into account for the optimization. If you have more than one, you are able to see the breakdown by conversions in the reports.

This is great for YouTube ads remarketing campaigns (it’s also very quick to say YouTube Trueview video ads for action remarketing campaigns – thanks Google)!

Select a campaign type in the new Google Adwords

If you’ve used Adwords before this whole process is pretty straightforward.

In Adwords, click to create a new campaign and select your objective: Video.

It doesn’t mention “for action” but it will be there at the next step: this is the “Leads” goal that you need to select.

Define your budget

Next up you need to define your budget for this campaign.

Google recommends to set your budget at about 20 times your tCPA (see below).

Target CPA bidding (tCPA bidding)

With Target CPA (cost-per-acquisition), you define the average amount you’re ok to pay for a conversion. From that Target CPA, AdWords then optimizes bids to help get as many conversions as possible. In the back-end, Google uses machine learning, taking into account historical data about your campaign as well as contextual signals when the auction happens.

Some conversions may cost more or less than your target, but Google adjusts to keep your cost per conversion equal to what you’ve set for the Target CPA.

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