What’s the Deal with the YouTube TrueView for Action Campaign?

Emily Lutz
November 9, 2018

The YouTube TrueView for Action campaign type was released from beta in 2018. Unlike earlier YouTube video campaigns, this campaign type was specifically created to send people from YouTube to a landing page on your website. While bidding in other campaigns centered around views of your ads, TrueView for Action campaigns uses a Target CPA (cost per action) bidding system to optimize for people more likely to convert on your site.

TrueView for Action campaigns contain in-stream video ads that are skippable after 5 seconds, with a headline of 15 characters and a prominent call to action button, which can be up to 10 characters. If the viewer clicks on your call to action, they are sent to the designated landing page to perform a conversion action. It can be set up under the Leads or Website Traffic goal in the new Google Ads interface. Targeting is similar to other YouTube and Display campaigns.

If you haven’t tried a YouTube TrueView for Action campaign yet, it might be time to perform a test. Still not convinced? Check out how it worked for one of our clients.



One of our education clients had used YouTube campaigns from 2013-2015 and spent around $125,000 testing video ads. While the earlier YouTube campaigns got lots of impressions and views, it ultimately collected very few leads.

Plus, the cost per lead in these video campaigns was over $2,000, compared to an average cost per lead in search and display campaigns of $50. Video campaigns were discontinued after a few years of testing. Still, this didn’t rule out YouTube entirely. Once the TrueView for Action campaigns were made available, we decided to test them on this client.


Testing and targeting

We proposed a test of the new TrueView for Action campaigns to target one of the school’s most popular programs. The YouTube campaign tested multiple types of targeting that we currently used successfully in display campaigns, including a remarketing audience campaign and a prospecting campaign.

The prospecting campaign was divided into different ad groups that targeted related placements, keywords, audiences (in-market and custom intent), and topics that had performed well in our display campaigns. We used the same landing page and conversion from our display campaigns and started the test.

At first, we began the test on a small budget. Google did warn us that the algorithm that runs the Target CPA bidding would have a difficult time learning with such a small budget over a small period of time, but we decided to give it a try. After all, if a small test went well, we could hopefully convince the client to spend more over a longer period of time.



In the very first week of the test, the campaign got 6 leads at around a $120 cost per lead. It was a huge early success. However, performance trailed off in the next few weeks.

When we dove into the account, we discovered that many of our ads were showing up in irrelevant YouTube channels. When we excluded these placements and keywords, performance improved greatly. Future weeks saw more leads at a lower cost per lead. It even brought in a qualified application.



While reviewing the campaign performance, there were multiple factors that contributed to our success and could be tested to improve performance even more in the future. The video itself was a creative stop-motion film that featured the brand name front-and-center. Though views inevitably dropped off after the first 5 seconds, it still had a very good engagement rate.  

Plus, there were differences in how each target performed on display versus YouTube. On YouTube, related topics and in-market audiences performed best.

This test proved that the YouTube TrueView for Action campaign can truly be a driver of website traffic and capture valuable leads. It’s an exciting new option for companies that want to move beyond brand awareness in video advertising.

Emily Lutz
Director of Strategy

Emily Lutz is from Kalispell, Montana and has been camping more times than she can count. She geeks out over musicals and the TV show Firefly (yes, she’s on some chat sites). Before joining Perfect Search, Emily was a zookeeper for ten years.

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