Capture Your Viewers’ Attention with YouTube’s Unskippable 6-Second “Bumper Ads”


YouTube_Reuters_LucyNicholsonHow do you sell a product in six seconds? That’s the question now being posed by YouTube, as the industry-leading video streaming network introduces unskippable 6-second “Bumper Ads” this May.

YouTube’s business model revolves around ad revenue, and it features three major ad types: Video ads (formerly known as “InStream” ads) are built into the video player itself and can play before or after the prime attraction, or in an ad-break format (a “mid-roll”). Overlay (“InVideo”) ads are stationary text and/or banners that overlay the video player. Lastly, display ads are shown alongside a video on the right-hand sidebar. These three ad types are sold on an auction and/or reserve basis. We’ve also told you about other ways to advertise on your video, via shoppable ads and sponsored cards.

With the advent of ad-blocking browser extensions and ever-decreasing attention spans among consumers, advertisers have been pressured to consider other ways to engage their audience without driving them away. YouTube’s skippable ads have given viewers the option to end the ad after a few seconds, offering a less overwhelming experience; Call-to-Action (CTA) links and companion banners have added discreet clickable elements to incite viewer participation. But YouTube’s struggle has remained: how do they justify the cost of ads for advertisers, and how do they get viewers engaged instead of just eager to skip the ad?

What are Bumper Ads?

Google calls them “little haikus of video ads” — bumper ads allow for up to six seconds of unskippable content, designed to leave a lasting impression in a short amount of time. Check out the example above. Atlantic Records has crammed the distinguishable voice of Ed Sheeran, the album cover and release date in just six seconds to promote the new Rudimental album. It’s a lot of information to include with not a lot of time to convey it, and Atlantic Records is betting that you’ll be humming that snippet, at least for the amount of time it takes to open a music app.

Bumper ads are designed for the mobile experience. Google has quoted research stating that half of 18-49 year olds prefer mobile over desktop for their YouTube time. However, as smartphone bills rise and we all become more conscious of our data consumption, loading and watching full-length ads can become burdensome. Bumper ads, which are encouraged to be used in conjunction with full InStream video ad campaigns, provide a quick snapshot of a product designed to intrigue. Like video ads, bumper ads can be purchased through the AdWords auction on a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) basis.

Bumper ads challenge advertisers to rethink their approach. In only six seconds, the ad must convey the essentials: who, what, and why. Incorporating bumper ads into a larger TrueView or Google Preferred campaign can lead to an ongoing experience, driving incremental reach and frequency. Think of bumper ads like videos you watch on Vine and Dubsmash: “snackable” content that leaves a lasting impression. Audi, for example, have used bumper ads to show snippets of their longer TrueView ad, creating a running “series” of ads within the mobile YouTube experience.

What does this all mean for content creators?

Don’t worry — bumper ads won’t replace the other ad formats entirely. However, you, the content creator and channel manager, now get another option to customize your channel’s viewer experience.

Short-form video is a growing trend; Vine, Dubsmash and Instagram have explored and popularized storytelling via this medium. When creating playlists and building your channel, think about flow. Do you have a bunch of short videos that are monetizing? Your viewers may be deterred by a 30-second ad on a one minute video, especially if there are seven other short videos up next in the playlist.

Since ads are the necessary component to being compensated for your YouTube creativity, you should consider which ad format best suits the viewing experience you want for your fans. YouTube just expanded your options — how will you keep your viewers happy?

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