Google today is announcing a pretty huge development in the world of online video advertising: Adwords For Video. Launching in private beta starting immediately, AdWords For Video is video ad management made easy, and could open the door for all kinds of brands and businesses to a simple and affordable way to reach targeted video viewers. I had a chance to get a sneak peek at the system, and came away very impressed. So I thought I'd share a bit with you about Google's new AdWords For Video.
Google AdWords For Video
The overwhelming theme with the new AdWords For Video is views, not impressions. Just basic clicks... well, YouTube and Google have learned that those things aren't nearly as coveted by advertisers as the simplest of all video advertising goals: for viewers to actually watch the video.
I don't know about you, but that sounds an awful lot like what we've been saying for months, particularly with our Social Video Blueprint series... it sounds like social video principles. Advertisers would rather have viewers watch their ad than any other action, meaning the content quality and entertainment value has to be high. The view counts more than the impression.
Everything about AdWords For Video has been set up with these themes in mind, from the evolution of the True View program to the way stats are presented.
AdWords For Video is integrated so smoothly into the existing AdWords environment it's almost scary. It's nestled on the left navigation menu, just sitting there under Online Campaigns like it belonged there all along.
It's also pretty simple. I've worked with companies of all sizes, and this should be intuitive enough for almost any computer user to manage. In fact, Lane Shackleton, a YouTube Product Manager, who gave me a tour of the service, told me that there can be as many as 30 screens/pages for standard AdWords setup. With AdWords For Video, there are only two. Here's what the first one looks like:
(Advertisers can configure video campaign settings when advertisers "Create a new campaign." Here they can enter a budget and choose location and language targeting settings. If they have an existing campaign, they can load the settings from a previous campaign, or they can create new settings.)
Did I mention it's easy?
True View Video Ads
There's a little bit of terminology changing right off the bat. "Promoted Videos" is now rolled into True View. There are four basic True View ad formats in AdWords For Video, as shown in this screenshot:
(Advertisers can preview how their ad will appear using the four TrueView ad formats (in-search, in-slate, in-display and in-stream). They have option to select "Automatic" settings or they can select "Let me choose..." in order to further customize their campaign.)
Let's take a look at each one:
True View In-Search Ads
In-Search ads will appear, somewhat obviously, in search... on Google or YouTube. This is part of what you currently know as "promoted videos."
True View In-Slate Ads
In-Slate ads appear in a "slate" before long form content. Here's a video demo of a True View In-Slate Ad:
True View In-Display Ads
In-Display ads are on the YouTube video player page, where some of the old "promoted videos" were, and in the related videos list.
True View In-Stream Ads
In-Stream ads are skippable ads on YouTube videos--what you've typically known "True View" ads as. Here's a video demo of a True View In-Stream Ad:
AdWords For Video Targeting
Because the "view" itself is most important, to both the advertiser and to Google, there are some excellent targeting options with plenty of dials to turn to tweak your ad's performance. You can target by search, by topic, by contextual themes, age, interests... it's pretty deep, and clearly a huge part of what AdWords For Video is about--helping advertisers gain ad views through better taregting.
You can even separate out the various True View ad formats, and bid separately for each one.
Here's a screenshot of the targeting set-up:
(A targeting group allows you to choose who you want to see your ad(s). You can select keywords, contextual themes, topics, audiences, interests and placements to help target your audience. You need to have at least one targeting group before your ads are eligible to run. At a minimum, you should select "YouTube.com" as a placement so your video ads will at least run on YouTube.)
AdWords For Video Measurement
Of course, more than half the power of AdWords in general is the ability to measure performance, which allows you to improve performance. And the same is true with AdWords For Video.
In many ways, it looks a lot like the standard AdWords reporting you're used to:
(Everyone different objectives for measuring metrics. In Google AdWords for video, you can use graphs to see real-time views, cost, average CPV, view rate and conversions.)
Impressions are clearly separated out from views. Shackleton told me that a "view" is only accrued after an ad is watched for 30 seconds; up until then, it's just an impression. And you don't pay for those.
Impressions, then, is separated out into two sub-categories itself: thumbnail impressions, and impressions where the video was started, but not watched at least 30 seconds.
There are even some great stats on call-to-action activity and performance, as well as a video-played-to point measurement that tells you exactly when viewers tuned out.
The Bad News About AdWords For Video?
You can't get in yet. Probably. The odds are against you, that's for sure. This is a product launch with a pretty small private beta. They're reaching out to a select number of advertisers and partners to join the initial testing. I told Shackleton that everything about the system seemed designed for the average user, and suggested that surely they planned to open this wider and wider, eventually to the public. And he agreed: it is designed for users of all kinds, and will, indeed, slowly begin to open up to more potential advertisers.
You can still take some kind of action, though. You can submit yourself as a potential tester for consideration. But there are no guarantees when, or if, you'll be allowed in.
So for many of us, this is a big tease. But it's one heck of a tease. Video advertising in an AdWords environment that manages ads across all Google properties in one place, with simplified setup and management controls? Of course this thing is destined for the public... eventually. AdWords itself is already a huge revenue generator for Google. They're going to want to open this up to as many advertisers as possible sooner or later.