Posted August 21, 2007 9:00 pm by with 58 comments

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Showing 3 billion minutes of videos every month, Google-owned YouTube is the top video destination on the Internet today. And starting tomorrow, marketers will have another reason to turn to YouTube—a new InVideo ad format designed to offer high engagement without negatively impacting the user experience. As an alternative to preroll and postroll ads, InVideo ads offer more engagement, less disruption for viewers and lower video abandonment rates—a win all around.

New InVideo Ads from YouTube appear at the bottom of the video player 15 seconds into the video
Screen shot of an InVideo ad. View this video to see the animated ad.

InVideo Ads appear 15 seconds into the selected video, occupying the bottom 20% of the video player. If a user doesn’t click on the ad within 10 seconds, it minimizes for the duration of the video. The time marker at the bottom of the video player features a gold stripe to indicate the 10 seconds when the InVideo Ad displays. While the InVideo Ad displays, there is an option to close the ad, but less than 10% of YouTube users exercised that option. After the ad minimizes, an arrow in the bottom right offers the opportunity to expand it at any time.

After displaying for 10 seconds, InVideo Ads minimize.  A gold bar on the time counter indicates the point at which the ad displays.

Clicking on the ads open a new player within the video (which is paused). The InVideo Ads can use a Flash overlay to display anything from related albums for sale to concert tickets to movie trailers to commercials. Options include interactive features, video, and click-through offers.

Still visible in the background, the video pauses while the ad plays within the video player.
Still visible in the background, the video pauses while the ad plays within the video player.

Shashi Seth, YouTube Group Product Manager, stated that YouTube would not place limitations on the length or level of depth that its advertisers wanted to use in their InVideo Ads—as long as users were engaged, it would be a good experience all around. At the conclusion of the InVideo ad, or upon closing it, the user is returned to the video right where they left off.

YouTube has found that this ad format offers a deeper level of engagement. YouTube made an effort to preserve this engagement by delaying the ad display by 15 seconds. They found that when their users start a video, they need time to get into it. If they interrupt or display ads before that window, viewers are unlikely to engage, and more likely to abandon videos as they do with preroll ads.

They’ve also seen five to ten times the click-through rates on the InVideo Ads versus traditional display ads on YouTube. When a user does engage with the ad, 75% return to watch to the end of the video.

The ads can be targeted based on user demographics (age and gender), location, day part and content genre. Seth stated that the content genre could be narrowed down to be as focused as “sports, specifically soccer.” In addition to be able to target, users, marketers would also be provided with metrics on click-throughs and ad viewers (presented in quartiles), as well as YouTube community metrics (links, comments, favorites, subscriptions, etc.).

For a select group of partners, the ads will run on both professional and original content on a CPM basis. (If a user abandons a video before the ad displayed at 15 seconds, that video view does not count as an impression.) YouTube will use frequency tracking to ensure that users “are unlikely to” repeatedly view the same ads or be served so many ads that their experience is “saturated.” Seth advised, “Never anticipate that a very large portion of our videos will have ads on them.”

The InVideo Ads are designed to provide users, advertisers and publishers the best experience possible. If there must be ads on YouTube, these ads are definitely an innovative step in the right direction.