With Long-Form Video Rollout, YouTube Comes Around to In-Stream Ads

If “you” stands for “user-generated,” then YouTube might be due for a name change. The Google-owned site that became a household word by hosting short, user-generated clips is now serving full-length episodes of TV shows complete with TV-like ads.

Shows from CBS are first on the menu, meaning you can now watch entire episodes of “Beverly Hills 90210,” “MacGyver, “Star Trek The Original Series” and other gems. A YouTube spokesman said content from other publishers will likely appear “in the next few weeks.”

The full-length CBS shows now being shown on YouTube have been available elsewhere online for a long time via Web sites that are part of CBS’s partner syndicate. So the news isn’t the availability of the shows; it’s the fact that they’re being shown on YouTube, which limits the length of regular folks’ video uploads.

To monetize its longer programming, YouTube has for the first time embraced in-stream advertising. Ads on the first wave of episodes are being sold exclusively by CBS, and not by YouTube. They include pre-rolls, mid-rolls, post-rolls and banners.

A post on the official YouTube Blog stressed that the advertising “will only appear on premium content where you are most comfortable seeing such ads.” Content containing TV-like advertising is being labeled with a symbol that looks like a snippet of film.

Viewers of the full-length videos are able to watch them in YouTube’s new “Theater View” format. When clicked, the Theater View button spreads the video across horizontally, darkens the rest of the screen [except for the ever-present banner ad] and displays theater-like curtains on the left and right of the video.

Long-form videos are currently available only for viewing in the USA. However, YouTube Spokesman Aaron Zamost said the company hopes to make them available internationally in the near future.

He said the company’s goal, when it comes to monetization, is to provide advertisers with successful ways to get in front of users with meaningful messages. Zamost noted YouTube strives to pair ad formats to the type of video content, so the ads must “makes sense” in light of the video lengths. Hence, it believes overlays are best for short content and in-streams work with full-length episodes.

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