Your video will play after ad…These are words that you will no longer have to read when you trawl YouTube in 2018. Earlier this week, YouTube announced that it plans to scrap the irritating 30 second unskippable ads that play before selected videos on its streaming service. A Google spokesperson explained the plan as a strategy to “focus instead on formats that work well for both users and advertisers”.
As if by magic, this news follows a recent Adtekr article that highlighted the flaws of streamed video ads currently on offer and the various ways that advertisers are beginning to innovate in order to stand out from the crowd. Exploring ways of improving viewer experience is not a new strategy for YouTube; in October 2015, YouTube released YouTube Red, a paid-for subscription service that provides advertising free streaming in selected countries. Although the service was popular, the recent plan to cut 30 second unskippable ads is a signal that Youtube is still taking the need for change seriously. Youtube has come under increasingly pressure to innovate from the likes of Twitter, Snap, Instagram and Facebook, who recently began testing mid-roll ads, where users are made to watch ads after viewing 20 seconds of video.
So how will this change impact YouTube, video owners and advertisers? The news is not as drastic as it first seems because YouTube will still allow 15 and 20 second unskippable ad formats. Ads generate huge profits for YouTube and video owners and the more views that ads get, the more money the advertisers pay. Although the revenue stream from this ad format may decrease, YouTube will generate profits from other more innovative formats. In addition, video owners now generate the bulk of their income from brand deals and internet-based platforms such as Patreon, that allow content creators to build their own subscription content service sites. Although this development may pose a challenge for brands with limited production budgets that don’t allow for multiple edits, this news will be no surprise to those who have already started to adapt to the changing digital environment. For example, Nestle recently admitted that appropriating TV ads online hasn’t worked. Essentially, advertisers will be forced to produce more engaging ads that are better suited to short form content and an increasing variety of devices.
What formats will YouTube look to exploit that work well for both users and advertisers? As well as allowing 15 and 20 second ads, a notable format that has gained particular traction on Youtube is the introduction of the bumper ad- unskippable 6 second ad clips. When they were revealed in 2016, Google product manager Zach Lupei described them as “little haikus of video ads” and revealed that YouTube would be working to roll out new ad formats that are adapted to the way people view content. So far they have received positive reception. Youtube have also recently released Mobile Live Streaming, that allows users to stream videos live simply by clicking on the capture button on their mobile and Super Chat, which allows users watching live streams to buy a chat message which stays pinned to chat window for five hours after.
Overall, the move to shorter ads presents a huge opportunity for content makers and advertisers to offer innovative new technologies and formats. It will push advertisers that are used to repurposing TV ads on digital channels to invest in creating shorter and more powerful content that balances user experience, expectation and ad revenue. Some might argue that 2018 is too far off and that YouTube should act faster to remain competitive but it is undeniably a step in the right direction.