YouTube Adds Ads To Videos

August 22, 2007

YouTube Advertisement

Although Internet video ads generally annoy me, the solution Google has developed for YouTube is quite decent. Check out a YouTube video advertisement in action via this video.

The yellow mark on the progress bar indicates when the ad appears. The ad itself is a stripe that takes up the lower portion of the screen, and has a subtle animation and “overlay” effect over the video, all while the video is still playing. There’s a button to hide the overlay. If you click on the ad, the video pauses and the actual video advertisement appears in a smaller, overlaid video window. Mark Evans has a good overview of this new video ad format.

Now, as far as ads go, this doesn’t kill me. The ads I get annoyed with are the “preroll” variety that you’re forced to watch before you get to see what you’re really interested in. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to watch an Internet video, and when the unwanted preroll appears, I roll my eyes and hit the back button.

What Google and YouTube have come up with is a good compromise between user and advertiser. Television is already full of ads that take up a portion of the screen, so I don’t think users will be annoyed by this approach. And by requiring a click for an ad, Google can track clicks, and since a click implies genuine interest, this means better conversion rates. Lastly, consider how YouTube videos are embedded on websites, and this approach suggests ads can be embedded along with them (Adsense potential?)

From the looks of this first attempt at monetizing YouTube, I think Google will be successful – and as Tony Hung notes, possibly insanely successful. The frictionless money-making machine trundles forward.

[tags]Google, YouTube, Videos, Technology, Web 2.0[/tags]


  1. I don’t mind this format, either. I think it’s tasteful and I understand that they need to monetize. I’m not such a media purist that I’ll complain about the sanctity of YouTube being violated.

    I’m pleased that they’ve come up with such a sensible solution. How successful will it be? I’m not sure – I have a feeling that this structure will benefit established brands far more than newer ones, but I’m no expert.

  2. webomatica says:

    Yep – as long as I can still watch the video I’m going to YouTube easily and quickly an overlaid ad is preferable to a preroll IMHO.

  3. Mike says:

    Heh. Interesting idea. I hope they decide not to do that for full screen, though…or maybe even logged in users.

    Also, I had to watch this video three times, and I still don’t see an ad. Maybe it’s in beta for certain IP ranges, or they’ve removed it?

  4. tunequest says:

    From an intellectual property standpoint, I would be uncomfortable with the idea of Google modifying my content by overlaying ads on my published product, were I a video publisher. Certainly without my consent and, of course, a revenue cut.

    I’ve not read the terms of use, so maybe content providers agree to it when they decide to upload to YouTube. If that’s the case, some content providers might think twice about using YouTube to host their videos. And that might undermine YouTube’s entire business plan.

  5. webomatica says:

    Good point tunequest. I also wonder about the ramifications of someone uploading copyrighted content that isn’t theirs (say a music video from some random band) and what it means for Google to profit from this.

  6. Dave says:

    To followup on Tunequest and Webomatica’s last comments, there are a couple of things Youtube can do.
    1. Is that they can obtain the rights to do this for all future uploads (do they already do this when you upload a clip? I’m not familiar enough with their terms)
    2. They could do like other video sites (revver) and do a rev share with the owner of hte content
    3. They could skip out on all the user uploaded stuff and only focus on monetizing clips from certified publishers (e.g. Time Warner’s music videos)

    Jason, the sense I got from the articles on the new ads is that they would only be focusing on #3 from the list above. If they do start to monetize copyrighted material it would create a LOT of problems for them. And even if they wanted to post ads in front of ANY video, the only effective way to squeeze decent value out of the ads would be to target the ads. If they tried to target the ads based on keywords/metadata/content it could create problems b/c so far Youtube has been able to say they cannot filter or “know” what users are uploading (which is kinda bogus). But robust contextual targeting *might* be tantamount to someone saying “Yeah, we can figure out the context of a clip and target it with pinpoint precision but we can’t filter for copyrighted material?”. That could be a tough position to defend. But hey, it’s Google, I’m sure they’ll figure out how to make gobs of cash…

    I did find this article on Techcrunch which cracked me up (folks fighting to say who invented the new video ad format):

    Fwiw, the Brightcove guys downplay the effectiveness of the units. But I have no idea if that’s just bluster or not.

  7. webomatica says:

    Yeah sounds like they’re going to do a limited rollout with known partners. Unfortunately, this may mean a lot less ads and a lot less impact – because i’m sure many folks are watching stuff that is obviously copyrighted content (I know I am).

    The added element is that Google has their adsense all over many web pages that rely on text for the context, however whether or not that text is copyrighted or not isn’t Google’s problem, it’s the website. I think the situaton of Adsense leads people to assume that these ads would be the same on YouTube – that they would just take a blanket approach and apply it to many videos irregardless of copyright.

    And as for all these dudes claiming they had already done the overlay thing – I would dare say this all happened on television years ago. Watching CNN these days is crazy with all the tickers and stuff in the corners etc.

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