YouTube Users Rail Against In-Video Ads

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2007-08-23 Print this article Print

YouTube has only been running in-video ads for a couple of days, but the video-sharing site has been shelled by comments ranging from annoyed to angry to disgusted.

To recap, YouTube Tuesday began running ads directly in videos from select partners. Yesterday morning, I wrote about how I couldn't seem to find any of the ads. A Google spokesperson kindly pointed me in the right direction so I got the chance to view a few.

To be honest, I found the ads to be less invasive than even some of the ads that say "click here to go directly to X" Web site. They didn't bother me at all. Then again I am, at most, a casual YouTube viewer, so what do I know?

The first profound post of "yuck" was posted at 7:14 p.m. Tuesday to the YouTube blog, but miffed users have been flaming YouTube and its parent Google with accusations of the you-are-greedy-capitalistic-pigs ilk.

See: "As a video maker, i have to say this practice is disgusting ... YouTube would take copyrighted contents off the network, because viacom or whatever asks, but whn [sic] it's user copyrights, they dont [sic] give a damn !!!"

Some of the YouTube faithful want a piece of the ad impression profits and are even exhorting their fellow YouTubers to action. Check this one out:

"Since you will be making money off our work and creativity does that mean we get a cut? If people click on an ad while watch MY video then I should be paid for it. I think we "youtubers" need to get together and form some king of webring. We can make websites without videos run ads make money and stay connected. Why let these guys get richer on us? Anyone interested? Lets get together and form a brain."

Cooler heads prevailed in some posts. Witness: "I'm okay with this, but eventually it would get boring. I wouldn't subscribe to anyone who does this, but it wouldn't stop me from watching one of their videos."

No matter how you slice it, the practice appears largely unpopular with YouTube fans. The question now becomes, what will YouTube and Google do to appease the irate YouTube army? Will they jettison the practice and find some other way of monetizing video content?

Or maybe because a lot of the YouTubers have suggested they'd like a cut of the action for their videos, Google will have to set aside a share of the ad impression cash for civilians who create content.

The answer is neither. A Google spokesperson told me today that  the company ran several ad tests over the last two months and results showed that in-video ads were least likely to send viewers scurrying away.

Through eye-tracking and click-through tests, Google found that users were clicking on the overlay ad at a rate of 5 to 10 times higher than they were on other standard video or display ads.

The company also tested pre-roll ads, which appear before the video starts, and found abandonment rates as high as 70 percent. Clearly this was not the way to go.

Google firmly believes the in-video ads will work. But does that mean we will see ads on every video that runs on YouTube?

No, according to a statement from Shashi Seth, YouTube group product manager for Google.

"I certainly cannot see that happening. Advertisers can reach a large number of impressions even if we are conservative in terms of how much content we monetize. And our users are not shy about telling us what they like so it behooves us to be careful." 

He can say that again.

Moreover,  the spokesperson assured me the company will never drop an ad into Joe College's homemade video unless Joe College opts in to the user partner program. 

"At this time you will never see an ad served to anybody's random uploaded video," the spokesperson said.

Net-net, while some users are freaking out about the in-video ads, Google is confident users will by and large accept the new practice.


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