Youtube ads you won't skip

By Libby Cooper
6/4/2015

How annoying are those ads before videos on YouTube?

Let me tell you: extremely annoying. Though I was thinking the other day, why are these ads so irritating? Is it because I don’t want to be bombarded by content I don’t care about? Yes. Is it because I really, really want to watch that hilarious video of a dog eating a lemon with no delay? Yes. Then why the other day, did I watch a skippable ad in full?!

I’ll tell you why: bacon. It was a simple video, sponsored by Knorr, about how to cook bacon to perfection.

This made me realize that I don’t care about content that has no relevance to my life. Sure, I am a smartphone user so targeted ads about the newest Android and cool headphones make sense hypothetically, but the reality is, I am not going to be wooed by a glossy commercial to buy the newest tech device. I am, on the other hand, going to watch a video that pertains to my life and will somehow better it.

This is why cooking bacon was the perfect trap. I knew it was an ad, I knew I could skip the ad, but I was genuinely interested in how to better my bacon skills. Kudos Youtube! you showed me just the right content at the right time. The video was not particularly complex. It's well filmed and attractive, but nothing like those million dollar super bowl ads. Yes I truly enjoyed watching it. This is a different kind of advertising, one where relevancy matters more than ever, but also one where any company regardless of its size can capture the tiny attention span of internet users (i.e. everyone) to their advantage.

Let’s get technical! The correct term for these videos is pre-roll ads. They are also called Trueview ads in Youtube parlance. These are the ads where the “Skip Ad” button appears 5 seconds after the video has begun to play. This is an advertising format that is specific to Youtube. It is difficult to find hard numbers regarding the performance of these ads; however, ad agency Nail hypothesizes that it could be as many as 90% of viewers skip these ads. The high skip rate is, at least partially, driven by how some brands approach the format. Many brands reuse their TV ads on Youtube. This is ill advised as ads made for TV generally open with a slow paced pan, boring viewers until they click the skip button at the 5 second market.

The ability to skip ads allows users to choose which ads they want to interact with. This means that brands have to focus on creating content that viewers actually want to see. This reality imposes quality and relevance thresholds to video advertisements.

The bottom line? It’s time to get creative and relevant people. When an ad can get skipped after 5 seconds, you have to really draw the audience in. And be immediately relevant. It requires knowing your target audience really well, and a focus on enriching the viewer’s life as opposed to just pushing a product. Using your brand as a vehicle to bring relevant content is a much more effective way than to force your message upon them. Or at least this how companies can make unskippable skippable ads!