MY DVR is precious to me for many reasons but one is the ability to skip over the commercials while watching my favorite shows. Now, YouTube is going to give their viewers the same choice and it raises some interesting questions. They call it TrueView, and according to AdAge, it’s going to launch very soon.
TrueView has a number of options connected with it that change depending on whether you’re watching short-form or longer-form videos on YouTube. At the lowest level, viewers will be allowed to skip an ad. For longer material, YouTube is working with the concept of allowing the viewer to choose all ads up front or scattered throughout the program TV style. There’s also talk of offering the viewer a choice of ads which is something Hulu tried a few years ago.
Not surprisingly Phil Farhi, a Google senior product manager told AdAge that the skippable concept was a “tough sell.”
“Some advertisers had initial gut reaction of, ‘Wait, you’re gonna let users skip my ad?’. But the thing that tips them over from that gut reaction is you’re not paying for those skipped ads, and it’s a system that allows you to reach that opted-in engaged audience at scale.”
Interesting. So the idea here is that if a person chooses to watch an ad, then they’ll be more engaged, thus it’s highly targeted as opposed to a random ad shown to someone who doesn’t care. I get the theory, but I’m not sure it works in the real world. If you offered 100 people the chance to skip all the commercials during a show, I’d guess that 99 of them would say skip. The one guy who doesn’t push the skip button probably wasn’t paying attention or didn’t understand the question.
It’s not that people aren’t ever open to seeing an advertisement, but there’s a time and place and that’s not when I’m trying to watch the newest Glee Christmas Video. If, at the end of the video, you show me an ad for the Christmas CD that I can click on to buy it, then I might do so, but at that point you’re enhancing my experience, not interrupting it.
The other factor in this new TrueView scheme is that YouTube isn’t known for its long-form content and that means fewer opportunities for video ads. Here are the numbers according to AdAge:
“ComScore’s October numbers show that Hulu served more than 1 billion video ad impressions. All Google sites — including YouTube — combined? A mere 170 million. Hulu’s long-form content allows for many more video ads, and people spend a lot more time on Hulu watching shows such as “Project Runway” and “Lost.”
Not saying that things can’t change, but YouTube has a was to go before they become known as anything but the number one website for videos of cats playing the piano. Yes, I know that there are plenty of well-made webshows, educational videos and music videos on the site, but YouTube is still the Animal House of the Video University Campus. Today on YouTube, the top video in Non-profit and Activism is “Little Person Starts Fight” from Prank vs Prank. Other top videos include fake Harry Potter outtakes that are mostly sexual or gross, “Assisted Back Flip Fail” and “Fail Friday: It’s a Baby, Not a Dog.”
YouTube has a niche and it works. There are YouTube millionaires who are raking in the bucks from text ads at the bottom of the screen, but can they hold their own against TV style commercial ad breaks? Will people choose to watch a car commercial before checking out the latest offering from Shane Dawson? I just can’t see it.
The only way the average person will say yes when offered the chance to opt out of an ad is if the ad itself is a sought after video. From the Old Spice guy to the E *Trade Babies that’s video marketing done right.