YouTube is Scrapping Unskippable 30 second Ads - What does this mean for marketers?

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Last week, Google confirmed that they are planning to scrap unskippable 30-second adverts on YouTube. But why is the tech giant dropping something that has been a part of YouTube’s advertising offering for years? What does this mean for marketers?

Online video advertising continues to grow exponentially - video ad views on social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram rose 38% in the last quarter of 2016 compared to the previous quarter, and original digital video content now accounts for 44% of marketing budgets. YouTube is of course one of the leaders in video advertising, with eMarketer estimating that their ad revenue grew by 30% in 2016 and will rise by a further 20% in 2017.

However, YouTube is facing mounting pressure from Facebook, which earlier this year began testing mid-roll ads that allow advertisers to insert ads after users have watched 20 seconds of a video in a bid to improve engagement rates. In an attempt to combat the rise of the social network’s advertising power, Google has taken steps to evolve their video advertising formats.

What’s happening?

As of 2018, YouTube will no longer offer 30-second unskippable ads, and will instead focus on ad formats that work better for both advertisers and viewers. This includes 20-second ads and the 6-second ads that were introduced in April.

Why are they doing this?

Unskippable 30-seconds ads cause high abandon rates compared to other forms of advertising - often, users will click on a video only to be confronted with an ad, at which point they will decide that the video they originally wanted to watch isn’t worth sitting through the ad. This is a bad ad experience for the user that is damaging for both advertisers and content creators. By removing these longer ads, Google hopes overall abandonment will fall and ad engagement will rise.

Another reason 30-second ads are being scrapped is a change in how people are watching videos online. YouTube have said that more than half of its video views come from mobile users, and being forced to watch a 30-second ad can make a serious dent in a smaller data plan, which many will try to avoid. By making their ads shorter and less data-hungry, mobile users are less likely to be concerned and more likely to interact with the ads.

As mentioned above, stiff competition from Facebook is another reason that Google is making changes to YouTube’s ad formats. In addition to removing the 30-second ads, they recently announced that the Media Rating Council, an influential non-profit organisation that sets rules for the tracking of media consumption, will independently audit three partners that collect data on the viewability of YouTube’s ads in an attempt to reassure advertisers that their metrics are accurate, in light of the controversy surrounding Facebook’s over-estimated figures.

What does this mean for marketers?

The most obvious change marketers will have to make is creating shorter ads - those who can create snackable, Vine-style content will thrive (particularly in the 6-second ad format). Additionally, the death of the 30-second ad will further push those advertisers who are still re-using TV ads and repurposing them for digital channels into creating bespoke ads, consistent with digital experiences.

While some may have to change their approach to video advertising because of 30-second ads being scrapped, advertisers will benefit from higher engagement rates on YouTube , and consumers will be treated to a better ad experience.

Moreover, this change gives marketers an opportunity to weigh up their digital video advertising choices - video advertising continues to grow, and there are several options to be considered. in addition to YouTube and Facebook, Snapchat is a serious contender for the online video advertising throne, and is definitely worth considering investing in if you have a younger audience.

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