There’s been quite a stir since YouTube announced it would show banner ads in its videos. (If you didn’t catch this morning’s Times article, it’s worth reading.) The ads are essentially opaque banners at the bottom of the videos that appear 15-seconds in. For now, the ads will only appear on affiliate sections such as NBC’s YouTube channel and the other thousand or so like it.
Google calls the ads not just “engaging” but “viewer-friendly” — which, in PR-speak, roughly translates to, “Well, they’re not as annoying as they could be.”
Of course, in-video banners aren’t a new concept; VideoEgg has been doing it for awhile now. Yes, this approach is less annoying than “preroll” or “midroll” ads that interrupt the experience — and “postroll” ads are just silly, unless the idea is to push people away from the site altogether. Besides, YouTube had to do something, right? How long could they go before denying affiliates — and themselves — ad revenue beyond traditional banner ads?
But can anything that interrupts a 2-minute video really be considered “viewer-friendly”? Rough Type‘s Nick Carr sums it up perfectly:
[...] That’s like saying that being hit on the head once with a hammer is a pleasant experience because it’s not as bad as being hit on the head twice with a hammer.I liked the reaction of the first viewer to leave a comment on the YouTube blog: “yuck.” If you’re going to stick ads on the videos, go ahead and stick ads on the videos. But, please, don’t tell us you’re doing it on our behalf. We’re not idiots.
Over at Publishing 2.0, meanwhile, Scott Karp hammers on the need for relevance with in-video ads.
Not being interruptive is the very LEAST that online advertising needs to do in order to thrive — what it really needs to do is be RELEVANT.
The beauty of search advertising is that the format and the relevancy of the ad are PERFECTLY aligned with that of the “editorial” content, through the miracle of search keywords.
That will surely be the case in some instances of InVideo ads, but in many if not most instances, the ads will have nothing to do with the editorial content — and the relevancy to any individual viewer, unlike keyword targeted search ads, will be hit or miss.
And there’s a BIG problem with low relevancy — advertisers only pay if someone views the ads.
Still, in the Times article, VideoEgg’s chief marketing officer, Troy Young, claims that “Viewers click on them at a rate roughly five times higher than banner ads.”
Once again, the conversation about online ad placement centers around a lesser-of-evils argument. That’s no surprise. The old media concept of relevance remains tied to demographics rather than customer motivations; a far better anchor. Create a clickable, holographic video widget that transmits banner ads across continents and click-through rates remain meaningless if the ads inspire fatigue instead of action.