Micro-Advertising

5 seconds. That's how long most web-advertisers have to make an impression on a viewer. After those 5 seconds are up, the power is shifted into the hands (finger) of the viewer and it's up to them to decide whether to click the "Skip Ad" button, or to prolong the delay in watching the content they came for in the first place. The overwhelming majority choose the former. Despite this 5 second window, in some instances ads are not skippable at all. 

I'm okay with force feeding some advertisements to viewers by making them non-skippable, but I think in those instances the ads should at minimum be:

  1. Proportionate in length to the content 
  2. Relevant to the viewer

I recently clicked into a video news clip found on Twitter, and was forced to watch a 30-second spot about living room furniture before I was able to begin watching the 48-second news clip. The ad was irrelevant  to me as a viewer, and also disproportionately long in comparison to the actual clip.

Relevance - I'm still at a loss for how irrelevant the ads are that I'm served sometimes. With all the information people are willing giving up about themselves, you would think it would be no major task to serve ads that were somewhat relevant to the viewer. Just using the basis of the content being consumed to determine type of ad to be served could be a plausible first step. If I'm watching a video of sports highlights, maybe an ad from a relevant adjacency makes sense? Sneakers? Rehydrating beverages?  I think Foursquare is off to a good start with fixing the relevance issue. 

Proportion - There should not be a barrier, in the form of a 30-second ad, sitting in front of a 48-second news clip. I would have skipped it, but skipping was not an option. For ads that are non-skippable, why not just use micro-ads? 6-second long advertisements before, during, and/or after the video content. I think there's plenty that can be accomplished in 6 seconds and I think a 6-second ad is much more appropriate for a piece of content lasting only 48 seconds. We've seen many brands and influencers alike garner mass attention from the 6 seconds allotted in a Vine. Why not put Vine-style ads (or maybe just Vines themselves) to work in these situations? Extend the standard viewing window from 5 seconds to 6 seconds, replace disproportionate ads with 6-second non-skippable ones, and allow for the entire 6-second ad to be played all the way through every time it's served. 

YouTube makes no money on an ad that's skipped prior to being played in it's entirety. When ads are skipped, nobody wins. The advertiser has not engaged nor inspired any action on behalf of the viewer, the viewer's experience is still slightly compromised, and the host makes no money. Seriously addressing relevance and proportion of ads could change this for the better. Though 6-second ads obviously would bring in less marginal revenue (i.e. they'd be cheaper to the advertiser), I'd imagine the hit rate would increase exponentially (1 : 1 ratio of ads watched to ads served) and have a positive impact on ad revenue and brand exposure. 

This could work, right? Leave a comment, or tweet me your thoughts.