MediaWeek, along with a ton of other media news sources has reported that YouTube will begin inserting ads into the content on their site. According to the article:
"YouTube executives say that these ads are designed to be as non-intrusive as possible to users while balancing advertiser needs. InVideo ads don't even appear on screen until a video has been playing for at least 15 seconds, and they then disappear 10 seconds later unless clicked upon."This is a big development for several reasons, not the least of which being that YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and others are leading an advertising revolution, siphoning ever more money away from traditional media (i.e. television, print or "old-school", etc.).
The main benefit that YouTube touts is similar to our pitch for out-of-home advertising: it targets a very specific audience at a time when they are well positioned to take an advertisement to heart, and hopefully act on it. With OOH an ad might reach a consumer in a department store where she's just a few steps away from making a purchase. On YouTube a viewer might watch a video of one of their favorite bands playing live and then watch an ad for that band's new CD pop up, leaving them only a couple clicks away from an impulse buy on Amazon.
On the flip side, one of the major issues this raises (which also makes it similar to OOH advertising) is how viewers will tolerate the extra level of intrusiveness. Will they be put off by how much the ads interfere with their media choices and avoid using the service? The YouTube execs were silent on the issue because, put simply, this is going to annoy people. YouTube viewers are not used to ads popping up in the videos and there is sure to be a backlash. In fact, one of the reasons the site became so popular in the first place is because it was "by the people and for the people" and it didn't belong to "the corporations." Sadly, those days are gone and now YouTube's cultural weight has to reap financial rewards. The key will be finding the right balance between keeping the annoyance factor low but still yielding strong results for advertisers.
Want to hear more opinions on the matter? There's a great c0nversation on this very topic taking place on LinkedIn right now, so check it out!
Tags: Google, YouTube, advertising