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.