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TrueView - YouTube Pilots Video Pre-Roll Ads

  |  February 15, 2011   |  Comments

Pre-roll video advertising can be annoying, but this offering has advantages over other approaches.

So it's happened. YouTube is adding its version of the pre-roll ad to its offerings; it's called TrueView Video Ads or "in-stream" placements. YouTube is also putting this in the pay-per-view category of advertising. Now this ad format is not new to YouTube since certain channel "partners" like the Onion and other premium content providers started inserting pre-rolls sold via YouTube a while ago. But this is a much broader rollout of video ads within YouTube.

Now clearly this marks a reversal of the statements (or rumors, I guess) we heard that YouTube would not insert pre-roll, mid-roll, or post-roll ads into its videos. And YouTube is more pleasurable than other video sites that force viewers to sit through a :15 ad (or worse, a :30 ad) before watching video content.

To YouTube's credit, it is being as polite as possible by allowing consumers to skip an ad after 5 seconds and limiting them to one ad every 7 minutes. If ads show up in embedded videos on people's sites and blogs, I believe it will be a boon for services that do not require pre-rolls and hosted solutions like Brightcove.

The thing I really love about these ads - in the style of Google AdWords - is that they include a serious performance element. An advertiser pays only if:

  • A viewer clicks on the ad
  • A viewer watches the whole video
  • A viewer watches 30 seconds or more of the video (the ad can be of any length)

So if someone skips the ad after a few seconds, you as an advertiser pay nothing.

The service is managed through your AdWords account and, according to the literature I have, you will need Google's assistance in setting up a TrueView campaign because it is still in the pilot phase. It is auction-based and I am not 100 percent up on all the filters and video targeting options yet. But I'll follow up with a column when I get my head around those details. (Of course, if you have them, please comment.)

All in all, I am pretty excited about this because it should add a whole new creative canvas over the current video offerings available online. The really interesting part is that there is no limit to a video's length. So if you insert something interesting like those original magical video episodes from BMW films starring Clive Owen (my all-time favorite Internet video campaign), you could potentially get several minutes of a consumer's time.

So here are some specifics around the offerings:

Viewer Experience

  • A viewer watches a short or long form video and sees a pre- or mid-roll ad
  • After 5 seconds, the viewer has the option to skip ad and continue to regular programming
  • Ads are capped at one every 7 minutes

Advertiser Experience

  • Purchase ad format via AdWords auction
  • You can set maximum bid price and budget
  • Ads can be any length
  • You are charged only when viewer completely watches the ad or 30 seconds (whichever is shorter) or when viewer clicks to your website

Below is an image of the new ads with the "skip" option. (To see a quick video demo of the ad, click here.)


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Harry Gold

As founder and CEO of Overdrive, Harry Gold is the architect and conductor behind the company's ROI-driven programs. His primary mission is to create innovative marketing programs based on real-world success and to ensure the marketing and technology practices that drive those successes are continually institutionalized into the culture and methods of the agency. What excites him is the knowledge that Overdrive's collaborative environment has created a company of online media, SEM, and online behavioral experts who drive success for the clients and companies they serve. Overdrive serves a diverse base of B2B and B2C clients that demand a high level of accountability and ROI from their online programs and campaigns.

Harry started his career in 1995 when he founded online marketing firm Interactive Promotions, serving such clients as Microsoft, "The Financial Times," the Hard Rock Cafe, and the City of Boston. Since then, he has been at the forefront of online branding and channel creation, developing successful Web and search engine-based marketing programs for various agencies and Fortune 500 companies.

Harry is a frequent lecturer on SEM and online media for The New England Direct Marketing Association; Ad Club; the University of Massachusetts, Boston; Harvard University; and Boston University.

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