Flickr / Photo by Windell Oskay.

Youtube moves to fun sized ads: The changing nature of video advertising in the digital landscape

There are some universally shared internet experiences: googling yourself, losing track of at least 30 minutes chasing down images of cats/monkeys/children, and frustratingly waiting for a uniterruptive 30 seconds YouTube advertisement to finish for a 10 second clip of a monkey washing a cat while a child laughs (we call this a digital hat trick).

The ability that online viewing gives is the sense of autonomy to the user. When viewers have overt restrictions, it generates real anger and frustration. The 2016 Meeker Report statistics show that 62 percent are annoyed with prerolled out videos and 81% of people mute video ads.

The idea of a captive audience is an archaic idea from legacy media. It reminds me of the time when cable companies tried to force TiVo to stop the fast forwarding of commercials for certain broadcasts. Given how new research has stated that the digital age has lowered the average attention span of humans to eight seconds, one less than a goldfish. Viewer has lost interest before the “pitch” has even occurred.

Therefore, the announcement that YouTube will be eliminating the unskippable 30 second video[1] advertisement makes complete sense. The replacement will be “bumper ads” smaller ads that will be unskippable, but caps at 6 seconds (or as they will be referred to in the rest of this article “Fun-Sized Ads”). While I could not find anything that links the recent studies about attention span to the decision on time, it is interested that the amount of time is 2 seconds less than the total attention of a human. Maybe this is the bumper they refer to?

The second shift that this represents is toward mobile advertising. While a longer video could be more tolerated on a desktop device, since a user can switch off the sound and do something else, with a mobile device they are stuck. YouTube also has announced they will be moving their videos in vertical or V format (like the Mighty Ducks) to make their content better digestible for mobile devices. The Meeker Report estimates the huge advertising potential for mobile devices (estimated at $22 Billion). Already online you are seeing companies slim down (or “fun up”) their advertising videos from 30 second clips to multiple, shorter clips that can be used for these fun-sized ads.

For literature to have a complete novel in 6 words the classic example is “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” It asks the reader to inject themselves more into the story and draw personal connections. Fun-sized ads have the same potential. The key would be to have a single representation that has a cohesion to brand identity. If we take the analogy of a fun sized candy bar, there is usually one key combination of flavor. The smaller the bites the less there is to play around with.

Flickr / Photo by Windell Oskay.