As performance-driven marketers, it can sometimes feel challenging to talk about YouTube as a channel that drives direct conversion performance. Historically, most marketers have viewed YouTube as a channel that drives brand awareness, with any direct performance a bonus. More recently, Google has been working to change that perception by releasing new targeting capabilities, evaluation tools and video products. YouTube ads are now more focused on direct response than ever before.

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If you’re looking to give your YouTube ads a refresh and want to see better direct CPA or ROAS metrics, give the following strategies a try.

Custom Intent Audiences

Google’s Custom Intent Audiences are now in beta on YouTube and scheduled for release later this year to allow advertisers to reach high-intent audiences with interests in specific products. These audiences allow you to target YouTube users based on their past Google searches. This creates opportunities to target people who have searched for your brand, products similar to yours, or even your competitors.

Video Ads Designed for Action

You must keep in mind the context in which your ads will show when designing video ads specifically for driving action on YouTube. You will be reaching people who have already demonstrated intent (assuming you’re using Custom Intent Audiences), they will likely be watching the video with the sound on, and they can skip the video at any time after the first five seconds if it no longer engages them.

Keeping those points in mind, try positioning your call to action near the beginning of the video. A natural way to do this is to hook the audience with the problem that your product solves, and how they can solve it by learning more, starting a trial, using a coupon, etc. Since most people are watching YouTube videos with the sound on, you can use a voiceover to help reiterate the call to action further on in the video. This ad from provides an example of an advertiser doing this well.

TrueView for Action

YouTube’s new ad format, TrueView for Action, is aimed at making it easier for users to engage with YouTube ads and get to your website to take action faster and more seamlessly. You can now include a larger, customizable call to action overlay and an automatically-generated end card featuring the same information as the overlay. This provides the viewer additional opportunities to visit your site and complete your CTA.

Using TrueView for Action in combination with Custom Intent Audiences is a powerful because it allows you to reach people with high intent, and then show them an ad format with content directly related to what they have searched for previously, while allowing them to take action directly from the CTA overlay or end card.

Using the above three strategies in combination will help to ensure that your YouTube ads are reaching people with the right intent, showing them an ad that captures their attention and giving them a way to take action. By focusing on those three pieces, your YouTube ads can become more than a branding initiative and start driving direct response.

Are you looking to drive more conversions from digital video? Contact us to see what Metric Theory can do for you.