YouTube has begun testing "skippable" ads on videos. But before you get offended as an advertiser ("What?! They're letting people skip my ads?”) or get excited as a user ("Hooray! They're going to let me skip ads!”), you should probably know that this is research and not necessarily a new permanent feature.
What YouTube—Google, really—is trying to do is ascertain what kind of ads are appealing to viewers, and what kind of ads they won't tolerate. They're also hoping to learn more about the demographic make up of audience subsets—"What kind of person is more likely to tolerate this kind of ad?” Or, "Exactly when do they tire of an ad and choose to skip it?”
From the sound of things, pre-roll ads (quick ads that run prior to the actual video's beginning) are not going away. YouTube has seen enough to know that they want to proceed with pre-rolls as one of their staples. Now they just want to learn more about pre-rolls. If there's a way to run pre-roll ads that audiences actually enjoy, you better believe the portal wants to find out what that is.
This test of "skippable" ads is limited, and only content partners who explicitly opted into the test will have the skippable as applied to their videos.
From the sound of it, they're building a new type of ad model, called "cost per engagement," which kind of sounds like advertisers will pay based on how much of their ad was seen before it was skipped—or will pay more when a user "opts into" the company's ad. That's pretty interesting, and I actually like the sound of that a great deal.
Think of it in non-video terms for a second. Let's say you have a successful website that gets 10,000 unique visitors a day. That's pretty awesome. Good for you. Now… do your advertisers still pay on only "unique visitor" data? Or are there engagement triggers in your ad model, such as page-views or bounce rate? Because 10,000 unique visitors a day who leave the site within 15 seconds is not that valuable to the advertiser. But 1,000 unique visitors a day who view 10 pages on the site and stick around for 2 or 3 minutes… that's a lot more useful.
It's the same with video, obviously. What advertiser in their right mind wouldn't want to use a model that is based on engagement? Imagine if magazine advertisers could know how many readers actually stop and look at their ad?
There's apparently also an element of the new test that will compare online video ads to television ads—and see what the relationship might be between the two. It seems there is some data to suggest that ads on television need to be longer to engage a viewer, whereas online advertising by nature allows for a faster engagement.
All very interesting stuff. While I'm still a bit puzzled at how long it took, I'm not the least bit surprised to see Google finally making bigger strides in finding the advertising/revenue model that works for their $1.65 Billion investment. Let us know if you see any of the skippable ads in the wild on YouTube—I tried for nearly an hour to find one, but have so far been unsuccessful.
What do you think? Are you curious to see what the data shows from this test? Do you think you're likely to skip the ads yourself? Would the type of ad matter? Are you opted in so that skippable ads will show on the videos you've produced?