Here’s something interesting: YouTube apparently is testing out a viewer’s choice pre-roll advertising feature much like what we see with Hulu (they have two kinds of choices: Ad Selector and Ad Swap), where you get to choose how your ads will play during long-form content. You can choose one ad, or just allow normal commercial breaks. Allowing people to choose their own ad accomplishes the goal of getting actual paid advertising on content and gives people something they choose to watch, even though the “choice” is something that was not part of the original plan.
Will YouTube’s Test Catch On?
YouTube has experimented with ad choice on long form content before, but didn’t have the ad inventory to make it widely available. That was a couple of years ago when the New York Times reported on it, and we know that YouTube has been all about increasing that ad inventory to attract premium content producers and advertisers since then. Many times they force viewers to watch the ad, sometimes the viewer has a choice to skip the ad (TrueView). There has been great success with the skippable ad, but it does have the one flaw (for some people) of being skippable.
The YouTube test is much like what Hulu implements now: you can choose one long ad and be done with ads forever when you watch the show, or you can let the show have commercial breaks and you’ll be subjected to a couple of 30-second ads.
Hulu reported back when they first introduced this system:
We’ve been testing Hulu Ad Swap over the past several months, asking consumers for their feedback in shaping the product. Since testing began, we’ve found that this feature has a significant impact on effectiveness metrics, improving unaided brand recall by 93%, brand favorability by 27%, purchase intent by 35%, and stated relevancy by 46%.
Here’s a look at the pre-roll ad (and here’s a link to the video):
Who knows if this is something that’s going to be here to stay? Even though this is just a test, it figures to stay around, if only to give content creators at least one guaranteed ad. You’ve got to pay the bills, somehow.