Exclusive: YouTube Trials New ‘Skip to End’ Video Ad Format


YouTube has begun trialling a new in-stream ad format which makes users watch both the first five seconds and the last five seconds of an ad, VAN has learned. The format is currently being trialled amongst a small group of users, and may be rolled out more widely in the future.

The new format is a variation on Google’s TrueView in-stream ad format, which runs across YouTube videos as well as on a collection of sites and apps in the Google Display Network. TrueView ads force users to watch the first five seconds of an ad, after which they have the option to skip the rest of the ad and move straight on to the content.

The format being tested still forces users to watch the first five seconds of the ad, but then gives them the option to skip to the last five seconds of the ad as opposed to letting them skip the rest of it entirely.

YouTube didn’t comment on the motivation behind the new format, instead simply confirming to VAN that the trial is taking place, and that an announcement will be made if the feature is rolled out more broadly in the future.

However it would be interesting to see how brands might make use of the format. Many advertisers have tailored their ads to the TrueView format by making sure they get their message across within the first five seconds, while also ensuring the rest of the ad adds to this message for any users who don’t skip to the end.

None of the ads seen by VAN seemed tailor made for the new TrueView format. An ad for video game Fortnite for example, shown above, didn’t seem to deliver any specific message within the first and last five seconds, and the ability to skip just five seconds out of a 15 second ads seemed somewhat awkward.

If the feature does roll out more widely though, we might see advertisers play around with how they can customise their creative to work best within this new TrueView variation. They will be able to guarantee that at least ten seconds of their ads are shown, but there also might be unique creative possibilities with the way the format works. Presumably there is some reason Google has chosen to guarantee that the end of the ad will be played, rather than just extending the current skip countdown at the beginning to ten seconds.

Perhaps Google, or advertisers it partners with, sees some specific creative opportunity in ensuring that the beginning and the end of an ad specifically are shown, with the key points of an ad’s message wrapped around the bulk of the ad rather than being squeezed into the beginning.

Alternatively, it could just be an effort by Google to make more users watch TrueView ads all the way through. Advertisers only pay for a TrueView impression when a user chooses not the skip it (or watches at least 30 seconds), so making the skip function a bit less useful for viewers could be an attempt to reduce the amount of ad skipping on TrueView ads.


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