YouTube encroaches on TV territory

YouTube is testing out back-to-back adverts, but unlike with TV, viewers will be able to skip them.
YouTube is testing out back-to-back adverts, but unlike with TV, viewers will be able to skip them.

Google-owned online video platform YouTube will experiment with new features that bring the Internet viewing experience closer to that of traditional television.

YouTube, which has nearly two billion monthly active users, will start testing back-to-back adverts, a way to accommodate YouTube ads on larger screens, and full-length ad-supported movies.

Through research conducted by the company, it found viewers would prefer fewer frequent ad breaks when watching for longer periods of time, and that fewer interruptions translates into better metrics and more adverts watched.

"To respond to this, we will begin testing ad pods, which are two ads stacked back-to-back, where viewers have the option to skip directly to the content if it's not the right ad for them," Khushbu Rathi, YouTube product manager for video ads, said in a blogpost.

Although this seems counter-intuitive, as why would users want to see more adverts in a row if research shows they prefer fewer, Rathi says it makes sense because: "When users see two ads in a break, they're less likely to be interrupted by ads later. In fact, those users will experience up to 40% fewer interruptions by ads in the session.

"Early experiment results also show an 8-11% increase in unique reach and a 5-10% increase in frequency for advertisers, with no impact to Brand Lift metrics.

"This new experience, launching on desktop this year then followed by mobile and TV screens, aims to accommodate viewer preferences while continuing to help advertisers connect with their most important audiences."

Therefore, like on television, when users are watching a longer piece of content, there will be several ad breaks featuring back-to-back adverts instead of a myriad short ad breaks with only one advert each.

The difference is that users will be able to skip these adverts if the content is not relevant to them.

Rathi says there has been an incredible increase in users choosing to watch YouTube videos on TV screens instead of mobile phones.

"On average, users watch over 180 million hours of YouTube on TV screens every day."

To help advertisers take advantage of this trend, the company has introduced a way for them to tailor their adverts for bigger screens.

Free Hollywood

It was reported earlier this month by AdAge that the online video platform had been quietly adding more than a 100 ad-supported Hollywood movies to its free site.

Movies like "Legally Blonde", "Zookeeper", "The Terminator" and "Rocky" were previously only offered to YouTube users who paid to watch them. They are now available to watch free of charge with adverts dotted throughout, most probably before crucial suspense-filled moments.

YouTube director of product management Rohit Dhawan told AdAge: "We saw this opportunity based on user demand, beyond just offering paid movies. Can we do ad-supported movies, free to the user? It also presents a nice opportunity for advertisers."

The terms of YouTube's deals with studios or how much money the company makes from the ad revenue was not disclosed, but Dhawan did say there would eventually be a way for advertisers to pay to sponsor individual movies.

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