After a few days of speculation that YouTube was testing putting 5-10 unskippable ads in front of certain videos, YouTube finally gave a statement to 9to5 Google confirming the experiment, in which they increased the number of bumper ads on some longer videos.
Bumper ads are a shorter form of video ad on YouTube optimized for increasing brand awareness with concise, catchy messaging. While they are only six seconds long at maximum, 10 ads in a row would equate to a full minute of unskippable ads.
For context, most unskippable ads on YouTube are currently 15-20 seconds long, depending on regional standards.
While this was only an experiment, it does indicate that YouTube is considering ways to increase the number of ads viewers have to watch before accessing free content.
We’re not sure whether or why YouTube would want to make it more difficult for users to view videos on their platform, but here are a few of our best guesses:
It’s possible that YouTube is incentivizing users to try out YouTube Premium, their paid subscription service. This service is ad free, and is priced similarly to other streaming platforms at $11.99 per month.
For casual users who consume YouTube videos for a specific purpose, such as how to and informational content, it will probably be a hard sell to get them to wait a minute to see a video and an even harder sell to get them to pay to watch the occasional tutorial. However, daily YouTube viewers often have content creators they watch as part of their routine—if they suddenly have to put up with increased ads, they may just decide it’s time to go premium.
If your target audience is made up of a demographic who is likely to consume YouTube videos daily, advertising on the platform could become less fruitful as those viewers opt for an ad free experience.
More ads may cause more frequent YouTube viewers to turn to ad blockers to make their viewing experience less frustrating.
This is not ideal for advertisers because, obviously, it means members of their target audience will stop seeing their ads. And this won’t just apply to YouTube—generally ad blockers will remove ads from all pages on a browser.
If one positive comes out of this event—even if YouTube doesn’t go through with increasing the number of ads—it’s that it reminds us of how important it is to keep video ads short and memorable.
Imagine if your bumper ads do start showing up in a string of nine other ads. If your message isn’t catchy and memorable, it will quickly be forgotten by an ad-fatigued audience.
If you spend any time watching YouTube videos, you probably know all too well how many YouTube ads miss the mark. Most people could count on one hand how many ads they saw that stuck with them, made them laugh or caused them to really think about something. Being creative, different, and entertaining continues to be an important and underutilized advertising strategy.
At this time, we have no idea what, if anything, will come of this test run of 5-10 unskippable ads.
What we do know is that it gives us, as marketers, a chance to reflect on our approach to YouTube advertising and remember that viewers are there to watch videos—not hear from us! It’s important to do whatever we can to make our ads more entertaining and less annoying.
Some factors to consider if you’re a YouTube advertiser include:
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