5 Years of TrueView: How user choice is ushering in the next golden age of video advertising

“Focus on the user and all else will follow." Those words have guided Google from the days working out of a garage in Menlo Park. While advertising may not often be seen as a user-first industry, we believe focusing on the user applies as much to ads as it does to any other product at Google. When we launched search ads, we put the user first by matching consumer intent with ads - people chose to click on an ad, and advertisers paid nothing if they didn’t.

Five years ago, we took that same concept and brought it to video with the introduction of TrueView. At the time, people thought we were crazy: “who would choose to watch an ad?” But it turns out, people do choose to watch ads...more than 100 million times in some cases. Video advertising in general is moving toward user choice - as people can fast forward, skip, close the screen. But with choice comes opportunity, and we’re seeing more creative, engaging, and entertaining ads now than ever before. In fact, last year four of the top 10 trending videos of the year were created by brands.

Today marks the fifth anniversary since we began testing TrueView as a video ad format. We've come a long way in five short years; all of the top 100 global brands have run TrueView ads over the past year, and 95% of TrueView advertisers have run campaigns across screens.1 We’re also seeing strong growth in new advertisers adopting TrueView, as the number of advertisers using TrueView grew 45% in 20142.

To see how video ads have evolved over the past five years, we took a quick trip down memory lane:

                                                    View the full infographic

Since launching TrueView, we've invested in providing new tools to empower advertisers to create ads that people want to watch. Measurement tools like Brand Lift and Earned Action reports help answer questions around how people watch content, and the impact that views have on brand metrics. Likewise, product enhancements such as mobile app promotions and 360 video are enabling advertisers to use TrueView as a creative canvas to engage their customers.

And we have big things coming in 2015. We're continuing to evolve TrueView to make an even better creative platform for brands - and our first step comes with the launch of cards on TrueView. Cards provide a beautiful platform for viewer interactivity with ads, making it easy for viewers to watch more of your videos, playlists, or connect to your website directly from the ad regardless of whether it’s shown on a desktop or mobile device. For more info on cards, check out our blog post.

By giving viewers this choice, everyone wins – viewers only watch ads that interest them, and brands are rewarded for creating interesting content that people want to watch. We’re excited to continue to innovate with video ads, and look forward to the next five years of YouTube.

  1. YouTube global data, 2014. Top 100 brands defined by Interbrand Top 100 Global Brands list.
  2. YouTube global data, 2013 vs. 2014