How to analyze YouTube Instream ads

How to analyze YouTube Instream ads

Do you use Instream YouTube ads? Do you know if people are watching and interacting with your ads? In this article, you’ll learn how to analyze your skippable YouTube Instream ads.

Analyze YouTube video campaigns in Google Ads

Your YouTube TrueView Instream campaigns can be action-driven, which means you’re looking to drive traffic or increase sales and conversions, or build awareness of your brand or products. But whatever your goal, we’re going to look at several ways to analyze the metrics of your skippable Instream ads to see if they’re contributing to the results you want from your YouTube video campaigns.

# 1: Find out where users are dropping your YouTube In-Stream ads

With a skippable YouTube TrueView Instream ad, viewers have the option to ignore your ad after watching for 5 seconds. You only pay if they watch at least 30 seconds of the video, or the entire video achat follower if the ad is less than 30 seconds. By focusing on the 5-second mark, you will indicate whether viewers are paying attention far beyond the point where they can ignore your ad.

In Google Ads, you can view individual statistics about where users are going for each video you use as an ad. To find this data, click Videos in the secondary column on the left. Then click on Analytics.

Keep in mind that if you’re using the same video as an ad in multiple ad groups, you’ll need to check each of the analytics for each ad group individually. The numbers can easily be different for the same video in different ad groups.

Under each video, you can view audience retention percentages. In the image above, you can see the clear point when users reach the 5 second jump moment. In this example, 95% of the users jump at the time of 5 seconds. After that, the data shows that 36% of viewers watch the entire 24-second ad.

You can use these percentages as a benchmark to compare with other ad variations you have in the same ad groups. Which ones get the most attention? Can you create a better hook to keep more people watching past the 5 second mark? Would a more entertaining or relevant video achieve a viewer completion rate above 36%?

The Google Ads Video Analytics Report is a handy tool for providing your creative team with information about which YouTube video ads users prefer to watch. Like any other paid media platform, ad testing is an important part of any YouTube ad campaign.

# 2: Determine if users are engaging with your YouTube ads beyond the initial viewing time

Of course, viewing time is an important metric for YouTube ads, but keep in mind that a good percentage of viewers who watch your ad may not be interested in your product. To help you target the most engaged user, focus on other metrics that have deeper intent than watch time. One of the easiest ways to do this is to watch your won stocks.

Won actions are basically activities that users take after taking a paid action from your ad, such as watching at least 30 seconds of your video, watching your entire video, or clicking on one of your video cards. .

You can customize your Google Ads reports to include the following earned stock columns:

  • Views gained
  • I like won
  • Subscribers won
  • Playlist Additions Won
  • Actions won

To clarify what these actions are, let’s consider an example scenario. If someone watches your entire video ad, you’ll pay for the view. But if the same user watches other videos and subscribes to your YouTube channel, you won’t pay for those extra actions. So not only do you get more engagement for the same view price, but you get more insight into the campaigns, ad groups, and videos that get people to engage more with your brand.

You may have noticed that the subscriber numbers earned in the image above are listed in ranges. Google Ads does this because of privacy requirements. If you have less than 100 subscribers, you will see a range of numbers. But if you have more than 100, you will see the actual number. (Note: If you create a YouTube report in Google Data Studio, you can still see the actual numbers.)

As you launch more YouTube video campaigns, you will hopefully start racking up a lot of deserved actions. The best part is that you can do more than just review the numbers; you can actually do something with those numbers by creating audiences of people who take certain actions.

In Google Ads, click Tools & Settings at the top of the screen. Then, under the Shared Library column, click Audience Manager.

To create a new audience, click the blue plus (+) button and choose the YouTube Users option from the pop-up menu.

From there, you can build a variety of audiences from users who have interacted with your videos as ads or even organically.

You can create audiences from video views (watch any video, watch some videos, watch any video as an ad, or watch some videos as an ad). But look at the other options on the list. You can create audiences from users who liked videos, subscribed to your channel, shared videos, or added any video to a playlist. Sound familiar to you, like deserved actions?

Even if a user ignores your YouTube Instream ad, they can still take other helpful actions. You can then perform these actions to create audiences. You can use these YouTube user audiences to further analyze the value of your Instream campaigns, as we’ll get to that later.

# 3: Find out if viewers come back to your website and end up converting

We’re not talking about statistics to determine if users are converting directly from your YouTube ads. They are easy to find with the conversion columns in Google Ads. What we want to focus on is whether users come back to your website and then convert.

Get into the mindset of viewers of your ads. Why did they go to YouTube to buy a product or watch an entertaining video? Probably the latter. But just because the viewer wasn’t ready to convert at the time, doesn’t mean they’re not interested. That’s why you want to try to find out as much as possible if your YouTube ads are impacting the buyer’s journey.

Here is how you can do it.

Add YouTube user audiences as watch audiences to your Search Network campaigns

Earlier we discussed how you can create a variety of audiences from YouTube users. Now you’ll take all of your YouTube user audiences (more than earned actions) and add them to all of your search campaigns.

Return to Audience Manager and select all of the YouTube user audiences you created. Then, in the blue navigation bar, click on the Add to menu. You’ll see options to add these audiences at the campaign or ad group level.

Next, select the campaigns and ad groups you want to add these audiences to. I highly recommend that you select them all; you’ll see why in a minute.

After making your selections, click Next to access the targeting settings for your audience segments.

In this case, you want to ignore the Smart Default option (recommended). Instead, select Observation. This targeting setting essentially creates an “auction-only” audience. This means that when you add this audience segment to a campaign or ad group, you’re not showing your ads only to audience users. You are simply collecting information about how users of these audiences are performing against campaign or ad group averages.

Let the hearings run for at least two weeks. Then go to the “Audiences” report in Google Ads to see how your YouTube user audiences are performing in your campaigns or ad groups.

Adding viewing audience segments to all of your campaigns or ad groups will help you see if the users who have interacted with your videos are coming back and ultimately converting. Again, I want to stress that this can be helpful in seeing the value of an ad if viewers aren’t ready to convert or visit your website. But if they do end up coming back, it proves the value of raising awareness with your YouTube ads.

Keep in mind that looking at YouTube user audience segments will only show you how users come back and engage with your Google ads. It does not show how users can access Bing or visit your website directly after seeing your Instream ad. You need a different strategy for this.

View YouTube ad performance data in the Google Ads Attribution Report

Return to the Tools and Settings option in the top navigation of Google Ads. Find the measure column and click the Attribution link to access the Attribution report.

As of February 2021, Google Ads has added YouTube and Display Networks to the Attribution Report (Google Display Network data is not available until after November 10, 2020). Now you can better understand how the videos you promote with YouTube TrueView Instream Ads impact your other Google Ads campaigns.

You can change not only the view of dimensions, but also the conversion actions you want to display and the analysis periods.

The default option for the report is to look at all the actions that you count as conversions. You can edit this to review each conversion action you’ve set up in your Google Ads account. This can be important if you use campaign-level conversion actions in your account and potentially differentiate actions at the top of the conversion funnel from your actions at the bottom of the conversion funnel.

It doesn’t take much time to dig into this report and see the paths users take when your YouTube TrueView Instream campaigns are part of the journey. Find out where your video ads are located. Most importantly, examine the paths users take after interacting with your video ads to better understand the impact of your ads.


Yes, your YouTube TrueView Instream campaigns can generate direct conversions. I see it happening frequently. But you need to understand the real impact YouTube ads can have on your marketing strategy. While I always try to get conversions from my video campaigns (whether they’re at the top or bottom of the funnel), I generally consider conversions to be the icing on the cake.

Most people don’t go to YouTube to buy a product, download a PDF, or get a demo of certain software. People go to YouTube primarily for entertainment or for information. YouTube SEO specialists who see the value of YouTube understand that even if users aren’t ready to buy at that point, they can still influence those users and that’s why it’s important to get more. YouTube views and engagement to gain visibility within the site.

Work to put yourself in front of the right character. Monitor which creative works best in each of your target audiences. Then use the recommendations above to get as much information as possible about the real impact of your YouTube TrueView Instream ads.