SpotXchange have launched SkipIt, a service that allows users to viewers to skip video ads for $0.10. Users top up an account which they can then use to bypass ads wherever they see the SkipIt chicklet appear while they’re watching the video. SpotXchange say SkipIt was created to ‘address high abandonment rates in online video advertising, and to strike a balance between publishers, advertisers and consumers’. CineSport, Film Annex, IDG TechNetwork, OneScreen, Tech Media Network and Tetris Online are all trialling the service with more publishers expected to come on board in the near future.
Being able to bypass video ads is nothing new of course. YouTube have been allowing users to skip ads via their Trueview feature for a couple of years now, but asking people to pay in order to do so is a new idea, or at least a newly executed one.
The Promised Land for Publishers?
At this point you may have worked out that: $0.10 x 1000 = $100 CPM, suggesting that – if SkipIt catches on – this might just be the micropayments system publishers have been waiting for, assuming of course that those who complain about ads are willing to put their money where their mouth is and pay up.
It’s no secret that many online publishers are still trying running around in a panic trying to find a truly sustainable business model. Thus far, publisher experiments online have tended to swing from one extreme to another. Either they have battened down the hatches and erected pay walls in the hope that they can replicate the print model online, or they tip-toe around their users and politely show them some poorly performing display ads, often while they’re laying off journalists and content creators behind the scenes.
Regardless of how much revenue SkipIt generates, it’s going to have value by helping audiences make the oft-forgotten connection between the ads and the production of the content they enjoy. Ads are typically perceived as an annoyance with no intrinsic value, but placing a monetary value on skipping the ad will help consumers attribute value to the ads they do watch. In time users will understand that the professionally produced Internet – which includes the bulk of the free press – can only remain open to everyone if we have an advertising model that works for advertisers, publishers and consumers.
The same shift in thinking needs to happen with data collection. If audiences understand that sharing a little data about themselves in an anonymous, transparent and highly regulated way gets them something in return, the privacy debate might be brought to a close and regarded as a legitimate trade-off and a matter of personal choice.
Finally, being able to skip ads is actually good news for advertisers. If a user is really so annoyed by video ads that they’re willing to hand over $0.10 per ad, do you really want your brand wedged between them and the content? Plus a cost per view (CPV) model is likely to deliver a better ROI for advertisers as the likelihood of viewers being actually engaged with ads increases. The only people who stand to lose out are brands who produce deliberately annoying ads, although it’s unlikely they’ll many sympathisers beyond the walls of their own marketing departments.