Remember the times when we could watch long videos on the internet without being interrupted by ads in between? Yeah, me neither. Nowadays, if you try watching a video on Youtube that’s more than a few minutes long, you’d be lucky to make it to the end without at least one video ad interrupting your viewing experience.
Not only are these ads distracting, but they’re also supremely annoying. For instance, if I’m watching a guitar tutorial online that’s teaching me to play my favorite song and I’m rudely interrupted by a video ad for piano lessons just as I’m getting a hang of the guitar chords, I’d be tempted to chuck my laptop across the room. Is this the kind of reaction the institute offering the piano lessons wanted to elicit from viewers when they paid YouTube to feature their ads? Probably not.
They likely wanted viewers like me to think, ‘oh wow! Looks like a great piano class, let me see if I want to join’. Is that what I thought when I saw the ad? Definitely not. Granted, these ads cannot be blamed entirely on the makers, a good chunk of the blame should rest on the shoulders of the platform that’s featuring ads in this way. Besides, these ads can be skipped within 5 seconds after they start playing, but I’d argue that 5 seconds is time enough for anyone to roll their eyes at the ad onscreen and wait for their video to resume.
Given that we live pretty fast-paced lives (young people across the world now find entertainment in 5-10 second Instagram Reels) time is a more precious commodity than ever and no one wants to spend it on something that doesn’t enlighten or amuse them. After all, why should they? There is no shortage of social media and other platforms for anyone to choose from these days if anyone wishes to pass the time or learn some useful skills.
Besides, even if we’re going to talk about YouTube, users have the option of purchasing a premium membership and not watching all (or any) of the ads. I’d say that having to sit through watching ads when there’s a way out of this for a fee can be more frustrating than not having the option to do so in the first place. Think about it: would you feel better or worse about it if you knew that you could make all the ads stop for a few dollars a month and you didn’t want to pay up rather than be forced to watch all the ads with no way out?
I know, I know – neither of these options sound ideal, but you’ve got to have a preference and I know mine isn’t the one in which I have the choice to pay for membership but don’t want to. It gives me the constant, nagging feeling that I have a solution to watching video ads and I’m not using it. This is one of the many reasons why I find video ads that interrupt videos frustrating, as I suspect it does for most people.
I distinctly recall the time when video ads would only play before the start of the video and I had the option to skip them after enduring them for only five seconds, as I can now. I can honestly say I miss those days. While I didn’t enjoy watching such ads, they felt more like a minor inconvenience than an invasion, which is what video ads that interrupt videos feel like now. I also remember thinking, more than once, that watching five seconds of an ad before a video started playing was a small price to pay for being able to watch content online for free.
After all, I’m old enough to remember the golden age of floppy discs and cassettes and recall how difficult it was to get your hands on content you wanted to watch or listen to. However, with all the advancements in technology we have at our disposal now and the endless choice of platforms we have to spend time on, it baffles me why we have to watch ads in the middle of videos.
You could argue that this is a somewhat similar experience to watching television but I would shoot that logical point down by saying that that’s how we’re accustomed to watching television anyway. Therefore, we don’t think of TV ads as being invasive or distracting, simply because we’ve always watched them this way. The same cannot be said for ads that interrupt your video viewing experience on the internet.
There are many ways to advertise products and services on the internet, with Display Ads and video ads being the most popular of these. Display Ads, in many ways, are less intrusive than video ads, because even though they’re featured on the same page of the content you wish to read or view, they never interrupt your experience. It’s very easy to scroll past a Display Ad on a webpage and not even fully register what it’s saying. More often than not, these ads are placed on the left or right side of a webpage, which makes them that much easier to ignore.
Video ads that interrupt your video on the other hand are intrusive and distracting (especially if they have the sound automatically on), and I can see no advantage of using them at all. Why create an unfavorable image of your brand among users when there are far more effective ways of advertising your products and services online?