YouTube Shoots Google In Foot

YouTube pre-roll ads are driving users to install adblocking software, which in turn is having devastating effects on independent publishers. Google, who last year earned 97% of their revenue from online advertising (over $32 billion) has a product that drives people to block ads. Crazy, right? While Google may be able to reduce the impact of adblocking, many smaller publishers shut down or set up premium subscriptions to make up for lost ad revenue.

But according to AdBlock users, traditional advertising is not the problem- it’s intrusive advertising that they can’t stand. More-so, they’re fed up with pre-roll YouTube ads, especially when the video they’re trying to watch isn’t much longer than the ad itself. In a recent lively discussion on Reddit, these pre-roll ads were cited as the most frequent motivation for installing adblock. One Reddit user commented:

Yep, Youtube is what killed it for me too. I didn’t mind when I could skip after 5 seconds but now we get stuck watching the full thing.”

Unfortunately the ad-tech industry is so large that brands and publishers don’t always know exactly where their ads are coming from or where they will end up. Sometimes YouTube ads can be poorly targeted or poorly placed, resulting in one ad appearing before yet another ad, such as movie or game trailers. Other times, the misplacement can cause a great deal of controversy or backlash towards a brand. Last month Nissan, among other companies, unknowingly had their pre-roll ads run before a violent video of a woman being beheaded in Mexico. Despite these mishaps, video ads are on the rise, and so are adblock installs.

Not to mention when you go to see a movie or game trailer (which is an ad), and before you can watch your ad, you have to watch a different ad.  Why the **** do I  have to watch an ad in order to watch an ad?”

Users become annoyed with intrusive YouTube pre-roll ads, so they look for a solution. They install adblock to solve this problem and Youtube ads disappear. Unfortunately the adblocking plugin doesn’t distinguish pre-roll ads from less intrusive advertising, which has drastic repercussions on independent publishers. As revealed in our recent report, this collateral damage has started to take a devastating toll on publishers, especially in the tech and gaming industries.

Who Wants Pre-roll Ads Anyway?

Even with the negativity, some publishers and content producers still manage to make a living of off YouTube ads, if they can attract a significant number of views. According to an article released this past summer, the top 1,000 YouTube channels average $23,000 in monthly ad revenue. The notorious “Gangnam Style” video, now the most popular YouTube video of all time, has made over $870,000 in ad revenue alone. PageFair YouTube Shoots Google In Foot

The ripple effects for brands are also beneficial. Each minute of video uploaded by one of these top channels generates 350 social media interactions
(through acts like “shares” and “tweets”) further spreading their message and increasing brand recognition.

One study revealed that pre-roll ads are 2.5x more effective than traditional banner ads. On top of that, video ads on mobile are also quite successful. According to a report from TubeMogul, click through rates for pre-roll ads on mobile are 4.9% on average compared to just 0.6% on PCs. MDG also projects an increase in digital video ad spending from 2 billion dollars in 2011 to 8.04 billion in 2016. The success of pre-roll ads doesn’t give Google much incentive to slow down, while they continue to make controversial moves regarding adblocking.

Google shoots itself in the foot as YouTube’s pre-roll ads drive people to block ads everywhere

Mixed Messages From Google

A rather emotionally charged Google ad has been making its way around the internet lately, heavily advocating the power of Google search. Ironically, all of the searches displayed in the ad fail to show Google ads that would typically come up in a normal, adblock-free search, suggesting that Google prefers to show a cleaner page in the commercial. They’ve also allegedly been asking users to disable adblock for some of their sites, while paying AdBlock Plus to whitelist their other Adwords ads, saving an estimated $887 million last year. PageFair YouTube Shoots Google In Foot

So what’s the solution? We’ve said it before: better ads. Bad advertising is making it harder for small publishers to operate for free, while opening up opportunities for internet giants such as Google to pay off adblockers while simultaneously increasing intrusive advertising.

My rule of thumb is “My mouse is over the skip button. You have five seconds to get my attention. Go.”

Have something to say about the matter? We’d like to hear more from publishers, advertisers, and adblockers alike. If you’d like to share your story with us, feel free to contact us here or on Twitter.

    • While true that Google/Youtube get a cut, many Youtubers rely on the ads for an income (those that do Youtube full-time). But.. I agree with the sentiment of this article. I desperately want to help out my favorite Youtubers, but the ads absolutely /suck/. There HAS to be a better way for me to help my favorite Youtubers, and at the same time not be as obtrusive as pre-roll ads.

  • What really annoys me are the ads pupping up over the video I am watching. You miss the x in the corner by a micron, and they launch instead of closing. The little x even goes away when you try to move your mouse to it. For ruining YouTube, I hope Google goes belly up.

    • We definitely agree that intrusive/misleading ads and tricks have gone too far! We don’t blame users for looking for a solution. We can only hope that internet giants such as Google will use their power to help fix this broken system.

    • We definitely agree that intrusive/misleading ads and tricks have gone too far! We don’t blame users for looking for a solution. We can only hope that internet giants such as Google will use their power to help fix this broken system.

  • I hate all ads. Every single one. I don’t want to see them and if they’re deliberately annoying I will actually navigate away from that page.

  • Google is screwing YouTube, forcing people to join a service nobody ever wanted, Google+. Full screen has been messed with and you can barely reply to anybody now. Google is the evil company they set out to not be, and YouTube is suffering for it. Leave the site alone FFS!

  • I installed adblock for youtube ads, and ads on because they seem to have ads that will override you’re screen making you have to click on them.

  • The solution is not just better ads, but also more variety. I don’t mind watching a 30-seconds ad before watching a video, but if I’m trying to watch three videos and you are going to show the exact same 30-seconds ad three times, I’m gonna Adblock the shit out of you.

    • Absolutely! Ads that are well targeted, clever, or entertaining tend to not cause too much backlash. People don’t mind be sold to if it’s relevant, not blatantly obnoxious, or too intrusive.

  • I got adblock because I was tired of getting ads based on where I had been on the internet (yeah I know, delete your cookies). My example is this; I bought a christmas tree online, and now I am getting ads to buy christmas trees because I was at a website for buying christmas trees.
    Clearly the solution to having a tree, is to buy moar trees!
    Pointless advertising. (Though I do get to see pictures of christmas trees so its pretty festive)

    • The retargeting often backfires. Unfortunately, with so many initiatives against tracking, and new methods of cookies (such as Google’s new alternative to cookies, Firefox attempting to launch a cookie-free browser, etc) the problem may get worse before it gets better. Do you tend to mind ads that are clearly based on tracking methods, but that are well targeted?

      • You didn’t ask me, but I’ll answer :o) Yes, I do mind the targeted ads! They aren’t any better. The only exceptions are IBM and the U.S. Air Force. I will always watch them. My father liked IBM, and was in the USAF when he died.
        Native advertising is creepy. It is also insulting, that web marketers think we’re so gullible. Sometimes slashdot and reddit give the option of ad-free viewing, but ask me not to use it all the time, as they need some advertising income to survive. That is acceptable, because they’re honest, don’t try to deceive me.

  • If I want to see ads I will watch tv. When online I do not want to be bothered by companies stealing my bandwidth by foisting ads on me. I use adblock and always will. Any ads that sneak through get added to my block list. Ads are for tv, not the internet. Period.

  • If companies had their way (which increasingly they are)…they would have you sit and watch ads in return for little or no content in return. It’s greed.

  • Internet advertising’s problem is that it is so annoying and keeps loading so much crap on web pages that internet power users have AdBlock Plus AND NoScript, which prevents ads from loading to begin with. It sucks that people who are putting out decent ads are getting screwed, but that’s the fault of the people who overused ads years ago and turned them into something to be avoided at all costs.

    • The whole business model needs to be revisited and updated. The old ways and tricks have forced users and publishers to take drastic measures. Thanks for commenting!

      • Honestly, I don’t think it can be revisited. They already blew it. They got greedy and ruined it for everyone. There needs to be a new model entirely. I don’t like stealing, but I will, under no circumstances, watch an ad. I don’t care how much I wanted to see the content, how high quality it is, or anything else. If I see an ad, I’m out. If I see a product in an ad, I’m not buying that product. As far as I am concerned, people showing me an ad should be paying me for service rendered, not the other way around. I have Adblock and noscript, and any website that manages to get through an ad, I blacklist. Ads are beyond the point of being a pet peeve for me, they make me really angry.

  • FTA: “click through rates for pre-roll ads on mobile are 4.9% on average compared to just 0.6% on PCs”
    Yup. I ACCIDENTLY click pre-rolls much more often on my mobile then I do the PC.

  • Google really screwed up when they made ALL of the older posts into archive only/no-reply data.
    Thread I have been following and replying to for YEARS…….now, null and void…..WTF?

  • That’s why I switched to Daily Motion for videos and Bing for search.
    Sure DM has ads, but at least I knew that going into it instead of it being forced through a once good product (Youtube).
    Yeah, Bing is just another giant corporation, but fuck google.
    I’m just one nobody on the internet, but again, fuck Google.

  • I know I’m alone here, but when I see an ad for something I refuse to buy that product out of spite. I get so angry with ads, I note down the company and when I’m shopping I look back and eliminate the products I’ve seen ads for. If I see three things on the shelf and I have seen an ad for two of them, I will buy the third option. I generally feel if a product needs to be advertised, it must be low quality. A high quality product should sell on its own.
    I really, really hate ads and I hate all companies that use them.

    • I do the same thing. I haven’t watched tv in about 10 years but if I run into an invasive ad online, I make sure to remember it and refuse to buy anything from them.

  • Being forced to sign in to google + to comment on YouTube sucks.
    Always having to click the little “X” to watch a video was second nature. Then waiting for a few seconds to “skip the ad” became annoying. But YouTube has to make a buck so I let my guilty conscious allow me to watch an ad every now and then if it catches my interest.
    And ya…after watching so many youtube videos for free I will watch ads to even out the score so to speak.
    I don’t use ad blockers because Youtube is dishing out the videos and needs to turn a buck some how.

  • I’m a partner and indeed revenue has taken a massive hit and it sucks. Looking into offsite options to supplement the loss.
    That said they used to be a lot better about them a few years back, where you only had to watch 1 pre-roll every few videos or so (instead of 1 EVERY SINGLE video). Also (as an uploader) pre-rolls of any kind were only allowed if the video was a minimum of 1 minute (now this ridiculous change of how you can put a preroll on literally a 10 second video). I follow these rules myself still and don’t preroll anything under that length.
    I sure wish they’d restore the old system(s). People were making money and it wasn’t so intrusive (nor could people make a new channel, monetize videos instantly w/o partnership, and throw a bunch of 15 second pre-rolls on 4 second videos).

  • I hate the adds that should be band by trying to sell you something through lies and fear. One add I see starts saying this add is so shocking some networks have blocked it. (They probably blocked it because it a load of tosh, and don’t want there name tarnished). Any way it goes on to say the UK is heading into financial melt down, but with the help of hour articul you can protect your money. Which you obousaly have to pay for!

  • This is exactly why I installed Ad-Block last Friday. YouTube pre-roll ads. The pre-roll ads are just infuriating. Every single video would have a stupid pre-roll ad.
    I’m a web developer and content creator, been in this game for 10+ years, have known about ad-blocking software for a very long time, and this is the first time I am compelled to actually use it.

  • You didn’t think they paid 2 billion for youtube to be nice?? The pre ad rolls I saw coming because of the money difference from a pre roll and a banner ad. Google wants to strap you in and put pins in your eyes to make you stare straight ahead and then and only then will they show your ad. Fuck google, youtube. Fuck um. They are liars and scumbags. Why no other company like Apple has launched a server….oh wait they would never use pre rolls.

  • My rule of thumb is “My mouse is over the skip button. You have five seconds to get my attention. Go.” I AGREE

  • I literally CAN NOT stand youtube without 100% of the ads blocked. It is unwatchable. If they somehow got whitelisted and adblock wouldn’t filter the prerolls out, I would absolutely quit going there to watch videos. It is so invasive and I just can’t. Big tall glass of NOPE.

  • I didn’t mind the adverts until they got louder than the programme itself. Now I’ve added adblock.
    I heard in the colonies they have laws against louder television adverts – perhaps they should be applied to youtube 😉

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