YouTube To Bow Unskippable Ads, 'Pause Experiences'

YouTube is poised to offer advertisers an option that sounds awfully like the traditional linear broadcast and cable TV advertising experience: unskippable 30-second ads.

That option — along with the introduction of static ads shown during viewing pauses — was  announced during the YouTube Brandcast upfront on Wednesday, although the launch date for the formats has yet to be specified.

The unskippable ads will be available only in YouTube Select, which targets the top 5% of YouTube’s most-viewed and most engaging content. YouTube says that 70% of Select impressions are generated on TVs, which means Select is “ideal” for longer ad formats.

YouTube’s “pause experiences” consist of a banner around the video, which can be dismissed via a button.

YouTube has been laying the groundwork for new ad formats by cracking down on ad blockers on the platform. Last week, YouTube acknowledged that it is testing pop-up messages that state that ad blockers are not allowed on the platform, unless the user pays to subscribe to YouTube Premium, which features access to original YouTube programming and the ability to download videos while removing ads.

The presenters touted the YouTube brand’s reach, particularly on TV screens.

YouTube and YouTube TV combined drew 150 million unique U.S. viewers on CTVs in December, according to Nielsen, and YouTube remains the most-watched service on U.S. TV screens across streaming platforms and traditional networks. YouTube also boasts reaching more 18- to 49-year olds in the U.S. than all linear networks combined.

“More and more, viewers tuning into YouTube on the biggest screen in their home,” YouTube CEO Neal Mohan said during the presentation. Viewers in general, and younger ones in particular, “no longer make a distinction” between user- or creator-generated content and professionally created content with Hollywood-level production values, he said.  

YouTube also promoted being the new home of “NFL Sunday Ticket,” and its ability to use Google AI to scale and customize ad creative.

Brandcast, held at Lincoln Center's David Geffen Hall in Manhattan, was not picketed by currently striking members of the Writers Guild of America, unlike other upfront presentations. Nearly all of YouTube's content is produced by non-guild-member creatives. 

4 comments about "YouTube To Bow Unskippable Ads, 'Pause Experiences'".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 18, 2023 at 9:15 a.m.

    Sounds like a positive step. But advertisers will want to know how much of YouTube's huge audience actually gets these 'unskippable" messages and how many GRPs they translate into---plus, of course, some tangible evidence---like measurements byTVision---on how many program viewers actually watch the "unskippable" commercials.

  2. Jonathan Bouman from Oodle replied, May 18, 2023 at 11:19 a.m.

    Ed, they are partnering with for cross-channel audience measurement of reach/frequency and de-duplication.

  3. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, May 18, 2023 at 12:57 p.m.

    Unskippable is not quite true for linear TV connected through a DVR. My family records everything (even live sports on a rolling delay) to avoid advertising on playback. It's a neat deal because ad-supported providers are still paid for zero eyeballs. 

  4. John Grono from GAP Research, May 20, 2023 at 10:19 p.m.

    Very interesting strategy.

    The article says the unskippable ads will only be in YouTube Select which "targets the top 5% of YouTube’s most-viewed and most engaging content".

    So why would you devalue your premium offer with ads that you will be embedded in the stream and be unskippable.   Let's hope that the 30 seconds of unskippable advertising time is NOT included in 'time spent' counts as YT will have no way to establish viewing as opposed to play-out time.

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