Commentary

Ad-Wise, YouTube Both Giveth And Taketh Away

Google has been taking steps to curb Chrome and YouTube ads that have annoyed viewers for years now—and reports that it’s seen use of ad-blockers in North America and Europe drop significantly on Chrome as a result.

Google has been relying on the Coalition for Better Ads’ Better Ad Standards, which are based on research among 45,000 consumers around the world, to guide its policies.

So in line with changes in those standards early this year, Google announced it would in turn implement changes to curb three types of ads that people “find particularly disruptive on video content that is less than 8 minutes long”: 

*Long, non-skippable pre-roll ads or groups of ads longer than 31 seconds that appear before a video and that cannot be skipped within the first 5 seconds;

*Image or text ads that appear on top of a playing video and are in the middle 1/3 of the video player window or cover more than 20% of the video content; and

advertisement

advertisement

*Mid-roll ads of any duration that appear in the middle of a video, interrupting the user’s experience.

As of Aug. 5, Chrome will stop showing all ads on sites in any country that repeatedly show these disruptive ads.

YouTube policies are also being updated to conform with the standards.

Except, in the case of YouTube, two changes will result in more mid-roll ads — probably significantly more — as of late this month.

One reason: Up to now, YouTube’s own standard has been to ban mid-roll ads in any videos shorter than 10 minutes. Now mid-rolls are allowed in any video at least eight minutes long.

But "allowed" isn't the right word, because YouTube is also simultaneously making a more radical change: It’s turning on mid-roll ads by default in all videos eight minutes or longer, whether they’re existing ads or ones being uploaded as new.

Here’s the announcement: “Today, only videos longer than 10 minutes are eligible for mid-roll ads. Starting in late July, videos that are longer than eight minutes will be eligible for mid-roll ads. As part of this change, mid-roll ads will be turned on for all eligible existing videos and future video uploads, including those videos where you may have previously opted out of mid-roll ads. Videos that already have mid-roll ads turned on will not be impacted.”

Google does give creators an out: “If mid-roll ads are not a good fit for your videos, you can indicate this preference in YouTube Studio” by July 27, 2020.

OK, so the good news is that advertisers should have more available inventory, and creators — not to mention YouTube — should be able to drive more revenue.

As for users? YouTube says it will pump up monitoring and enforcing the new video-length minimum, which could be a good thing.

Will there be fewer videos longer than eight minutes now? Very likely, since there’s no longer a monetary incentive to go longer. Will that be a good or bad thing from users’ perspective? Hard to say.

Will more mid-rolls inspire some YouTube diehards to shift to paying $20 a month for the Premium, ad-free version? Maybe not such a bad outcome for YouTube, but not exactly a positive for advertisers.

Or might more users begin to shift to the large and still-growing number of alternate video platforms, like Vimeo, Sony Crackle, Metacafe or Dailymotion, to name but a few? Each of these platforms has its own experience twist, and a group of dedicated fans.

The answer to all these questions is, of course: Time will tell. Let’s hope advertisers find the change more beneficial than not over time.

Next story loading loading..