YouTube Redesigns Streaming Experience: Fewer Ads, More Control for Viewers

YouTube is experimenting with new ways to show ads in response to feedback from viewers around the world. With the goal of making ads less disruptive, the online video sharing giant will mark a new chapter in the streaming industry.

YouTube is the most popular streaming service on TV, with over 2.56 billion monthly active users. More than 50% of people confessed to launching YouTube first when they turn on their TV in a Kantar survey. 

People love YouTube because it offers a wide variety of content, from music videos to movies and shows. Owned by Google, the video sharing platform also launched YouTube Shorts in 2020, and has quickly grown to over 2 billion monthly active users. According to the Nielsen Gauge Report, YouTube has been the top platform for streaming watch time on connected TV (CTV) for nine consecutive months. 

To constantly evolve with the changing needs of its viewers and provide the most immersive experience possible, YouTube is now redesigning its streaming experience for both viewers and advertisers.

How is YouTube redesigning the ad experience?

Rolling out the news about redesigning the streaming experience, YouTube said, “In the U.S., 65% of YouTube CTV watch time is on content that is 21 minutes or longer.  In order to provide the best experience for viewers, we must evolve our ads too.”

To craft a more interactive TV experience, the platform announced CTV-first formats such as 30-second non-skippable ads, pause experiences, shoppable ads and send-to-phone mechanisms in May 2023. Here’s a deep dive on how each of these contribute to refresh the ad experience.

30-second non-skippable ads: These ads cannot be skipped, so viewers are more likely to pay attention to them.

Pause experiences: These ads appear when a viewer pauses a video, giving them a chance to learn more about the product or service being advertised.

Shoppable ads: These ads allow viewers to buy products directly from the ad without having to leave YouTube.

Send-to-phone mechanism: Allows viewers to send an ad to their phone so they can learn more about it later. Especially targeted to over 80% of viewers who use a second screen while watching TV.

Feed ads: These ads appear in the same way as regular feed posts, so viewers are more likely to see them.

These engaging ad formats not only help YouTube stay ahead of the competition but also enrich the experience of viewers using the platform.

Fewer interruptions for longer videos

Viewers don’t like it when ads constantly interrupt their videos. 

About 79% of viewers prefer ads to be grouped together instead of distributed throughout a video when it comes to long-form content.

To reduce the number of interruptions, YouTube is evaluating new options that help minimise average interruptions for viewers. 

Grouping ads together: All of the ads for a particular video will be played at the beginning, middle, or end of the video. This way, viewers don’t have to keep stopping and starting the video to watch the ads.

Having fewer, longer ad breaks: Fewer ad breaks. However, each ad break lasts longer. This way, viewers can still watch the video uninterrupted for longer periods of time, but they will see fewer ads overall.

How long will ad breaks last? 

One of the biggest questions in viewers’ minds is: How long will the ad go on and when will the original video resume? YouTube said it was “exploring ways to give viewers more visibility into the length of ad breaks.” 

According to their research, a majority of viewers prefer knowing the total time remaining in the ad break versus the number of ads being served.

YouTube will test a new way to show viewers how long they will have to wait before the content resumes. This new way will be more visible and easier to understand than the current way, which only shows the number of ads being served.

In the update, they said, “We are listening to viewer feedback and making changes based on what they want. We are confident that these new features will make YouTube even better for viewers and advertisers.”

Over 700 million hours of YouTube content is now being watched daily on TV screens, YouTube research from 2021 shows.

The demand for good and diverse storytelling is only growing. With these changes in ad viewing, YouTube hopes to present a better opportunity for advertisers to move with their audiences and be at the heart of TV’s biggest shift in decades. 

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