"Google Welcomes YouTube into the Search Syndicated Network"

Andrew Perone, Senior Specialist, Paid Search

Since YouTube was acquired by Google in 2006, it has evolved into one of the largest online video platforms across the globe. As YouTube viewership continues to skyrocket more than a decade later, with millions of users viewing millions of videos per day, Google continues to find ways to integrate YouTube into its search platform to expand its reach and capabilities.

In 2016, Google introduced TrueView Discovery search campaigns to Google Ads, allowing advertisers to target users searching on YouTube with video ads above the organic results. Within a couple years, Google updated its search capabilities on YouTube once again, this time through its Search Syndicated Network. And now, Google has announced that YouTube will officially be added to the Search Syndicated Network for Google Ads, expanding the reach of its YouTube partnership even further. Since November 2018, this feature has been in an experimental phase, and full launch of this feature is expected in mid-January 2019.

How Will This Impact Search Advertisers?

  • Google search campaigns (opted into Search Partners on the campaign level) will be able to target users with text ads on YouTube.
  • Google search campaigns can leverage the same match types used on Google.com when triggering ads on YouTube (Broad, Phrase, Exact), even though TrueView Discovery search campaigns are only able to leverage Broad Match.
  • Google text ads will trump traditional TrueView Discovery video ads and Google expects about 5-10% drop in video ad impressions as the text ads ramp up.
  • YouTube cannot be targeted individually within the Search Syndicated Network, so advertisers will need to opt into all partners in order to run on YouTube.

How Will This Impact Paid Search Accounts?

  • Google impressions are expected to increase slightly (with a parallel decrease in YouTube impressions), as text ads will trump video ad results on the YouTube SERP.
  • CTR of Google search partners (in aggregate) is expected to increase, as volume and engagement on YouTube is expected to be higher than on other search partners.
  • CTR on search partners has no impact on CPCs, quality scores, or ad position, so advertisers should not see a noticeable difference in costs.
  • Early experiments noted that users who engaged with text ads from the YouTube SERP expressed strong intent and high engagement comparable to Google.com.

Why Is This Important?

YouTube is a great location for reaching online consumers based on current marketing trends, especially with the volume and viewership of online video content growing exponentially.
  • 55% of people view online videos daily, and spend 88% more time on websites with video.
  • 50% of people search for videos about products or services to help with a purchase decision.
  • By 2020, online videos are expected to be more than 80% of online consumer traffic.

In response to a shifting industry, YouTube is becoming one of the most visited and engaging websites within the search space. While becoming the new revenue stream for advertisers to promote their products and services, this update should also help Google and its advertisers maximize the value of their ad content across both platforms.

TrueView Discovery video ads tend to have a higher rate of engaged users than TrueView In-Stream video ads. For in-stream, these skippable video ads automatically play before or during the main video. However, 56% of viewers tend to skip online video ads, and more than 80% of online consumers tend to close a browser or exit a webpage all together because of an auto-playing video ad. By becoming intrusive and acting as an annoying bumper that gets in the way of your desired video content, the ads can not only lead to a poor user experience, but ultimately less engagement with your brand. With this is mind, there is no surprise that Google is allowing text ads to enter the YouTube advertising space, considering they have a very similar format and nature to TrueView Discovery.

In addition to triggering ads out of discovery, Google campaigns have the ability to leverage all match types when serving text ads on YouTube. This gives advertisers a very strong chance of reaching qualified consumers with an even higher likelihood of those consumers engaging with their content. TrueView Discovery campaigns are only able to leverage Broad Match, so advertisers leveraging this tactic currently see a wide array of search queries triggering their video ads. By casting such a wide net with Broad Match, the quality of these searches can suffer, especially on a massive video platform with millions of users searching per day. So with the ability to capture highly relevant searches on the YouTube SERP, Google text ads may harmonize better with targeted searches over TrueView Discovery campaigns. This is very similar to the functionality of Sponsored Ads above the organic results on Amazon (which are able to leverage Broad, Phrase, and Exact match types as well), which lends weight to the idea that Amazon is forcing Google to update its search capabilities as Amazon increasingly competes with Google in the search space.

However, with great power comes great responsibility, and advertisers may be concerned with the way the Search Partner feature is currently set up and how it will impact performance. This feature is only available on the campaign level (compared to the ad group level on Bing), so advertisers will not have the luxury of utilizing this feature for specific ad groups, keywords, and ad copy. YouTube is mixed in with the rest of the search partners and cannot be targeted individually within the Syndicated Network, so there is limited control over if, when, and how often these text ads will serve on YouTube. Google text ads have priority over TrueView Discovery video ads on the YouTube SERP, so video ads may be pushed out of the auction for the same brands, which is concerning when advertising on a website with users searching for video content. With all of these limitations, advertisers may be enticed to opt out of this feature for the safety of their brands.

As Google continues to update the format, coverage, and quality of its search platform, so will the way advertisers leverage Google for their clients. With the addition of YouTube to the Search Syndicated Network on Google Ads, advertisers will now have the opportunity to target users on both Google and YouTube, the top search engines globally, within the same campaigns. However, with no control over the percent of traffic coming from YouTube, and the potential overlap with TrueView Discovery campaigns, advertisers may experience limitations with this opportunity. With this in mind, we recommend all advertisers test (or continue to test) this feature within their campaigns, and carefully monitor performance closely through Google Ads and Google Analytics, to determine the impact of this update when it fully launches. For heavily regulated verticals, such as the finance, healthcare, pharmaceutical, educational, and insurance industries, legal teams should be made aware of this change while approving assets, so they understand how certain terms may trigger ad content in both the Google and YouTube search spaces.

Overall, this a great chance for advertisers to leverage YouTube for the next generation of online consumers and get ahead of the game.


  • https://blog.google/products/ads/trueview-video-discovery-ads/
  • https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/products/youtube-trueview/
  • https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/03/08/video-marketing-statistics
  • https://biteable.com/blog/tips/video-marketing-statistics/
  • https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics