- YouTube began testing an advertising solution that shows two video spots in sequence while cutting back on mid-roll commercial interruptions, according to a company blog post. The "ad pods" format makes the Google-owned video site more like traditional broadcast TV.
- YouTube's commercial breaks currently only show one ad at a time before playing on-demand videos. The video-sharing platform will still let viewers skip the ad pods to watch their requested content. YouTube will introduce ad pods on desktop this year, followed by mobile and connected TVs.
- Google's research found that fewer ad interruptions were correlated with better user metrics, including higher rates of ad viewing and less abandonment of content, Khushbu Rathi, Google's video ads project manager, wrote in the blog post.
YouTube's development of ad pods reflects the challenges presented as viewers spend more time watching videos on its platform. Viewers watch 180 million hours of YouTube on connected TV screens each day, according to Google's internal data, as more households connect their TVs to the internet to watch over-the-top streaming services.
Those longer viewing sessions mean that the platform needs to keep audiences engaged, and the company's research shows that ad pods — rather than traditional mid-roll spots — decrease interruptions and increase viewer engagement. However, creating longer ad breaks is a departure for YouTube, which has been a pioneer in urging advertisers to create shorter video spots, such as its six-second bumper ads, and could mean that the platform is moving away from shorter ads.
The announcement of ad pods follows a test of video ads that give marketers and brands more ways to interact with viewers who respond to a call-to-action. YouTube in September began experimenting with extensions for its TrueView in-stream ads, which viewers can skip after five seconds, that let audiences do things like find a movie showtime, download an app, book a trip or watch another brand video. Chili's, 20th Century Fox, Maybelline and Vodafone were among the brands that first tested YouTube's extensions for mobile video ads.
YouTube also started offering brands vertical video ads that aim to provide a more seamless mobile experience for viewers, and announced plans to sell videos ads that can be adjusted to a viewer's personalized home feed. The ads fill up a mobile screen in YouTube's app, similar to vertical ads on Snapchat and Instagram. The vertical video ads are available for TrueView and Universal App campaigns, per a separate Google blog.