I’ve got it! I’ve got it. YouTube and other online-video sites take notice. Free advice, peeps… to solve the ultimate online-video ad dilemma: pleasing advertisers without pissing off viewers.
Problem: We hate pre-rolls. Google says they work, but 75% of viewers drop like bodies on Fringe. We think we’re watching the wrong video, and most online-video content isn’t worth some 30-second ad. It may work for advertisers, but it’s far from user centric… It’s not a fair ratio. It’d be like being forced to watch 8 minutes of ads before your 22 minute television show (which you may or may not even like). Stats show that
Partial Solution: A smart first-step by YouTube. A split second of the video’s thumbnail shows up BEFORE the preroll. I noticed this for the first time while trying to figure out if CharlesTrippy is engaged or not. And whether ShayCarl is really moving. Anyone know? For those of you who don’t know them, you should know this. By doing daily vlogs they’ve captured a wild audience, and are constantly on top of the most-popular, best-rated YouTube videos. Trippy asked me if I’d consider the daily vlog, but honestly it’s so hard if you work full-time and my life isn’t as interesting as his. But I digress. I sense the 11 advertisers dropping off.
BETTER Solution: New format! a) Give us creators 10 seconds before the pre-roll hits (shall we call it a “Nalts mid-roll,” like my gut?). b) Then hit the 15-second ad. c) THEN on with the show. Viewers won’t adore it, but it will work better. Let me beta it on new videos, and I’ll cut my first 10 seconds with the knowledge that an ad may hit before second 11.
Why It Will Work: We creators now have 10 seconds to convince our audience that it’s worth waiting another 15 seconds for the rest of the “show.” The dropoff rate will be reduced dramatically. The advertiser is “in” the show, not blocking viewers.
Naturally this is not completely user centric. To be kind to viewers you turn off ads. But let’s keep it real here. As long as it’s free, it’s going to have ads. We viewers and we video creators generally don’t like ads. But if they’re effective, we marketers will subsidize the viewer’s experience (so we viewers don’t have to pay for content: so 1990). And we creators like making money. And we viewers don’t want to pay to see stuff. See?
The Online Ad Catch 22
Of course it’s like radar detectors and radars. As soon as the radar detectors get smart, the cops make better radars. Likewise, we get numb to ads, and many shut the InVideos reflexively (I watch my kids do this without realizing it). We stopped noticing the video ad on the top right of YouTube years ago, so now we have dancing ads all over 75 percent of the “above the fold.” It’s a bit much, and not very Googlesque. But the site’s trying to make a profit. Maybe now with Tim Armstrong gone it will change. 😉
So, YouTube… Think about what fails:
Remember when iFilm used to be hot? Like Metacafe, they had pre-rolls but not for the first video you watched. Maybe one in 3 or 4. Once they’re on every damned video, we stop visiting the site completely. I won’t watch a trailer on Yahoo Video EVER because I was once interrupted by an ad to watch the movie advertisement. On the flip side, people liked Revver. But the post-roll ads were not often viewed.
And remember what is kind to the viewer and advertiser:
Hulu sometimes offers a choice of three ads. You can also choose to watch a movie trailer and watch an entire show without interruption. Or watch 30-seconds spread throughout. That’s good. Obviously we have to consider the ratio of ads to content, and hopefully the first video we watch is sans ad. Maybe prerolls (or mid-rolls) can show up later in one’s session, before longer and more valuable content.