Blocked cycle lane, for a music festival

YouTube and Ad Blockers

Reading Time: 4 minutes

One of the pleasures we would enjoy many years ago was to browse YouTube, and eventually find something worth watching. This was possible for one key reason. There were no ads being loaded that would block us for thirty seconds or more. Today I read that YouTube test threatens to block viewers if they continue using ad blockers.

YouTube video surfing and channel surfing are the same thing. You hop from channel to channel, or from video to video, until you find something to watch. You watch a few seconds at a time before deciding that you prefer some other form of content. The issue with ads is that they slow you down. If you watch 3 or four videos and see 30 seconds of ads before watching five seconds of video then you spend all of your browsing time watching adverts, rather than content.

Pay For Premium, Get No Ads

That’s fantastic in theory, and in practice this is a good alternative to ad blockers. The issue that I have with this solution is that we’re paying to have clickbait pushed on us, rathre than actually browse YouTube. We’re facing the same problem as with ads. We’re still struggling to find worthwhile content.

Ads Encourage People to Leave

When I grew tired of seeing ads I left YouTube for days or even weeks at a time. It’s only because I used ad blockers that I came back, and I still felt that I was being conned. The first con is that the content is UGC, User Generated Content, or as I prefer to call it, User Generated Crap. A lot of the content that YouTube pushes on us is crap. You would never watch it on television.

The second problem is that the ads themselves are crap. For all of the data that Google has on me, their ads are completely off the mark. They market products that I have no interest in using. The ads are also of low quality. In some cases the ad is a music video, that is being played before you watch the content you wanted to watch.

YouTube Ads Don’t Need to be Video Ads

YouTube makes the mistake of playing video ads when there is no need to. Other types of ads would be just as effective, and would not detract people from watching the videos that they’re watching. Plently of videos on YouTube are product reviews. Given that this is the case those videos, can, in and of themselves be seen as adverts. If we watch a video about barefoot shoes then that content should be seen as an advert. That’s what it does. Imagine if advertisers paid content creators, when their videos are played, after someone searches for a specific product. The idea that you need to play an ad, for ad revenue, is obsolete at this moment in time.

Content as Advert

To elaborate on the idea, if I watch three videos about types of shoe then the brand that is being covered in the video should contribute financially to that video. I’m watching a promotional video, about a product. I don’t need a pre-roll add before watching a video about a specific product, or a specific lines of product.

YouTube said that they want people to either get premium, or see ads, to pay for content creators to create content. I think they’re missing the purpose of an entire segment of YouTube videos. Tutorials, hiking videos, cycling videos and more are already marketing products, without ever needing to show ads. In some cases the ads are paid for by being mentioned directly in the videos themselves. I tend to skip those ads, though.

Why Do We Skip Ads

One of the questions that YouTube and others should ask is “why do people skip ads?” Why do I force quit iOS games to avoid seeing ads. Why do I avoid seeing ads on YouTube. The short answer is “because I have seen manscaped adverts hundreds of times, because I have seen the iOS game adverts once per game play. If the adverts were updated, and if we had more ads to watch, then we wouldn’t skip them. The reality of the situation is that we’re skipping ads that we have already seen. In some cases I will see the same ad when playing iOS games, ten times, in ten puzzles solved or failed.

US Influence

People in the US have an extremely high tolerance for being bombarded with ads. American football has adds every few minutes. European Football has ads after fourty five minutes of game time. You’re watching the sport, and ads are put at reasonable intervals in Europe. If people use ad blockers, reduce the frequency of ads, and increase the rotation of ads, so that they see five to ten adverts, rather than one advert ten times.

Pre-Roll Ads Before We Have Even Committed

One of the things I hate most about YouTube and other video sharing websites is that they play 30 seconds of video before you watch the content. Sometimes it starts to play without you deciding to watch the content in the first place. More often than not, if I get a pre-roll ad, before I have watched the video I will not watch the video at all. Sometimes you’re about to watch a 45 second, or a 1 minute 30 second video, and you have 30 seconds, to a minute of advert.

And Finally

The question that YouTube, Google, Daily Motion and others should be asking is not “How can we force people to watch ads or pay for premium access to our content?” but “Why are people so aggressive about blocking ads?”. The reason is simple. Ads are invasive, ads are too frequent, ads are always the same. Facebook should be working to make ads appealing, rather than threatening to block users.