If you’ve spent any time in the TrueView (AdWords for Video) UI, you know that its navigation abilities were not modeled after the standard UI. When working with a smaller volume of campaigns, you can look past the cumbersome setup or even the limitation of data (there’s both an ad limit and data export limit); however, in any capacity, TrueView presents plenty of roadblocks that keep many advertisers from scaling the program as they have been able to in Promoted Videos.

I’m not an angry blogger, nor do I want to turn the next few paragraphs into an angry rant. There are a lot of great features that AdWords provides, and compared to the alternatives out there, I feel fortunate to spend most of my time and effort with Google platforms. That being said, Google’s TrueView platform has left a lot to be desired in terms of navigation, scalability, and functionality.

Before I get ahead of myself, a quick rundown on what TrueView is. TrueView ads differ from Promoted Video ads (which will soon be retired) in that you only pay when a viewer actively selects your video; hence the name TrueView, as views are accrued only for a true “view” of the video.

Like promoted videos, TrueView ads can appear on both YouTube and other publisher sites in the GDN for both desktop and mobile. However, additional metrics are available within the AdWords for Video UI that allow you to understand the engagement of your users at a much more granular level than in the standard UI. Metrics include “Video played to,” which reports the percentage of users who viewed 25,50,75, and 100% of your video; website clicks; and Follow-On Views and Subscribers.

metrics trueview

These additional metrics are vital for understanding your targeted audiences and how they engage with your videos. In that regard, TrueView ads provide our clients with measurable results and allow for an increase in testing and ability to grow a brand by targeting new audiences and understanding what resonates with them the most.

Working on a large brand account that heavily relies on promoting their videos, I have spent a great deal of time with the AdWords for Video UI. There are five key issues that I feel have prohibited us from expanding and scaling our TrueView campaigns the way we would like.


1. Filtering Restrictions

Unlike the standard UI, there are no filtering or search capabilities. The only way to parse through your data in any of the four tabs (Campaigns, Ads, Videos, and Targets), is to click on one of the headers and sort A to Z or Z to A and highest to lowest or lowest to highest, depending on the header. When you’re working with a limited number of campaigns or ads, this is a nuisance, but it is still manageable to monitor and adjust bids (which are only at the target group level). However, when you deal with 50+ campaigns at a time, there is no quick or efficient way to look through the data. I’ve reverted to using the “Find” option in Chrome to quickly highlight a specific campaign, but even at that, the process is very cumbersome. Because of the lack of filtering, we now try to limit the number of active campaigns to 40 for this client. However, this leads to the second issue I have with TrueView.

trueview limits


2. Targeting and Reach Limit

Unlike Promoted Videos, TrueView campaigns are structured by targets, instead of ad groups. They allow the same type of targeting (placements, keywords, interests, topics, demographics); however, bids can only be managed at this level. Furthermore, one of the biggest issues I have with TrueView is that there is a 10-target-group limit per campaign. Targets are also automatically opted into targeting with “specific” reach, rather than broad. What this means is that if you want to target more than one target in a group (say, interests), the targeting group will only target where those specific interests overlap. With a 10-group limit, this can really limit your targeting capabilities. In my case, a video that is relevant to more than 10 different interest groups will warrant multiple campaigns.


3. Ad Limit

If you work with smaller clients, this is an issue that you will most likely not run into. However, for those working with larger clients must deal with the 400-ad limit that the AdWords for Video UI currently allows. It took a year for us to run into this issue – but when we did, the only solution was to create an entirely new account.  When working with larger accounts, the fact that the only solution is to create a new account seems quite extreme!


4. Segment and Data Limits

TrueView gives you an abundance of data that you were never able to obtain in Promoted Videos, but exporting and reporting on it is another very cumbersome and limiting task. Like the standard UI, you are limited to the range you can segment data by. However, unlike the standard UI, you can’t extend that range in a downloaded report. What you see in the UI is what you get in your report, nothing more.

For reporting purposes there are times when it’s necessary to segment the data by day over the span of a couple months, or even longer. Because the segment option is limited to the UI’s view, only a couple weeks can be exported at a time.

trueview segment limits


Furthermore, when exporting data, the more granular the segmentation is or the larger the volume of campaigns is, the greater the chance that the report will report an error and provide you with this lovely message:

trueview error report


The first few times I ran into this issue, I figured that there was a bug in the system and I would indeed “try again later.” The larger my reports got, the more frequently this error would pop up. I recently shared this with my new Google rep for an account, and she was baffled when she too saw it on her end.


5. No Integration with AdWords Editor

AdWords Editor is a wonderful tool! It is why I love working in AdWords. It is both fast and easy to manipulate and upload data efficiently, and it far exceeds Bing Editor, even after all of its updates and attempts at copying AdWords Editor.

Unfortunately, the AdWords for Video UI has not been integrated with AdWords Editor. If this were to be integrated, it would allow users to scale TrueView ads without limitations. With AdWords Editor, I currently can easily manage a Promoted Videos Account that contains between 55-100 active campaigns at a time. Being able to use AdWords Editor allows us to leverage Microsoft Excel to upload and export data. It also allows us to duplicate ad groups or videos at a single time and make large scale bid adjustments. The integration of TrueView with AdWords Editor would be a game-changer for anyone that currently uses AdWords for Video, no matter the size of the account.


If Google wants to continue its client growth in this program, they MUST reassess the limitations and problems that their current clients have with the program, in particular those with large-scale campaigns. These limitations will continue to dictate our capabilities and our plan for growth (or lack thereof) in TrueView for 2013. My hope for the new year is that Google will hear our plea and take action on a much needed upgrade. A girl can dream?

1 Comment

  1. Leonidas April 10th, 2013

    I recently jumped on this, and am also surprised about the lack of Adwords for Video within Adwords Editor integration.

    One thing you missed was Bulk-location uploading as well. Currently it’s like BingAds (enter 1 by 1).

    Their programming teams are probably focused on the enhanced campaigns nonsense.

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Melissa Kowalke
-Melissa Kowalke joined 3Q Digital's Chicago office in early Spring 2011. Since then, she has managed multiple E-commerce, Lead Gen and Brand-driven clients across Search, Display and YouTube. Melissa's main focus and expertise lies in YouTube promotion, specifically TrueView, where she manages 3Q Digital's largest YouTube campaigns. When she isn't driving YouTube views, Melissa can be found traveling the Bavarian countryside with her husband, or cooking delicious Japanese food.