How Google Ads Counts Conversions from YouTube

May 01, 2019

Conversion tracking for YouTube ads differs greatly from Search, Shopping and Display ads. In this blog, we outline some of the tracking differences across these networks so you can better understand the value that your YouTube advertising is bringing to your portfolio.

Google Ads conversion tracking is based on ‘engagements.’ In most cases (search, display, shopping, etc.), an engagement is a click, so Google is tracking cost per click-through conversions. In other cases, however, the engagement can be a ‘video view’ (for YouTube ads), an ‘expansion’ (for Gmail ads) or other interactions.

So, on YouTube, we are tracking cost per video view conversion. On Gmail we are tracking cost per Gmail ad expansion conversion. Basically, across campaign and types, your conversion definitions will vary.

Search ads use the conversion tracking settings you set in your conversion event list (Measurement –> Conversions –> edit):

YouTube, on the other hand, has a hidden set of rules. We haven’t been able to find this information published on Google Ad’s help, but we have learned this directly from Google representatives. Specifically, these rules are:

  • How Google Counts Video Conversions
    – A user clicks on video ad and converts on the website. Adjustable via the settings shown above (conversion window)
    – A user chooses to watch a video ad (10 seconds watched or reaches the end of ad) and then converts directly on the website. (3-day window – adjustable via a request to your Google team)
  • How Google Counts Video view through conversions:
    – A user sees a video ad impression (1s-9s watched) and then converts directly on the website. 1-day window – adjustable via the setting shown above (view-through window)

Hopefully, this short article clarifies how Google Ads tracks conversions for YouTube campaigns.

An important note is that if your conversion event is being imported from Google Analytics or any other import method, you will get 0 conversions attributed via the ‘view’ method, as Google Analytics cannot read Google Ads cookies. So, your YouTube conversion performance will vary wildly depending on the data source. A sample of us switching from GA import to the Google Ads Tag is shown below to illustrate the difference in performance.