A YouTube ad you won't want to skip

Posted by Kathleen Noon on Wed, Aug 06, 2014 @ 05:50 AM

According to YouTube's viewer data, 94% of the time a YouTube pre-roll ad comes up we skip it as soon as possible.
As someone who has only contributed to that 6% of ad-watchers in lectures taught by people who can't find the full-screen button, that number still seems a bit too high. I can't tell you why we're so eager to skip to the video, but I do know that advertising agency NAIL is doing their best to keep us from pressing skip.

In a bit of an emotionally manipulative experiment, NAIL asked users to keep watching in order to save a puppy's life. Clearly someone did their homework because humans love puppies, so they were already off to a promising start. By watching the full ad, users helped NAIL donate money to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and hopefully helped convince agencies that it's time to shake up their digital content if they want people to pay attention.

While it may seem obvious to the average YouTube viewer that ad agencies need to make the first 5 seconds of their ads more compelling, agencies continue to use ads that work well on television as YouTube pre-roll and the results are pretty bad.

With a viewer rate of 26% it's pretty clear that the ad found considerable success (perhaps every ad should include puppies?) especially considering the minimal budget and complete lack of subtlety. 

NAIL's full comment about the ad spot is here (emphasis added):


As marketers, it's time we change the way we do YouTube preroll.

The current model seems to be to simply throw your TV commercial in front of any video a loosely defined demographic happens to be watching.

What a missed opportunity. The skip rates are unbelievable (94 percent is a generous estimate). And when there is no skip button, you can practically feel the resentment oozing through the Internet. Hardly the temperament most brands want to inspire from their customers, right?

Yes, content is king. But here, context is also king. (A gay royal couple if you will.)

Think about what we know at that moment: we know what they're going to watch, we know what they just Googled, we know where they are, we know what device they are watching on, heck, we know they can skip the ad. All of this information is an opportunity to customise a message that respects the viewer and the platform.

We need to stop repurposing content designed for other channels and start taking advantage of the amazing abilities YouTube is throwing at us.

It's like we're NASA and we're only using the Hubble Telescope to look at our neighbour's boobs.

YouTube ads should be designed for YouTube. They should use the tools and features given to us and interact with the user and the platform in a way that can't be rivalled. They should be self-aware. They should talk to one person at a time.

What the heck are we talking about, you ask?

OK, here's an example. We wanted to raise awareness and money for an organisation near and dear to us: the ASPCA. We had virtually no money but had given ourselves a serious challenge: can we make a skippable YouTube that virtually no one skips?

Did we do it? You tell us.


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Margin Media is an inbound marketing company based in Brisbane. We offer a range of digital marketing solutions to help your business increase its website trafficqualified leads and customer base. To find out more about our services, visit our home page.

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Topics: Social Media News & Strategies, Entertainment, Advertising Tips

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