In advertising, there’s no such thing as a captive audience. It’s easier than ever for people to tune out experiences they don’t like (although, sadly, this doesn’t apply to boring meetings).

YouTube codified this with the “Skip This Ad” buttons on the ads that run before the content you actually want to see.

In one sense, that reinforces the definition of ads as unwanted interruptions. They seem to say, “we know watching this ad is a chore, but you only have to wait 5 … 4… 3 … 2 … 1 second to forward past it.”

In another sense, it sets up the challenge to advertisers to create ads so good that people choose to watch.

This dynamic reminds me of a quote I heard from Cindy Gallop: “People hate advertising in general, but they love advertising in particular”.

The “Skip This Ad” phenomenon makes it more important than ever to create the advertising people love in particular.

(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post. I’ll pick one comment at 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)

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16 Comments

  1. Mike says:

    If all commercials were like the ones I see during the Super Bowl, I`d watch more of them and not fast forward through them on my DVR. I also read this week that Ford`s advert slogan has not changed in decades. Their message can still get to me, even even if I am >>>>.

  2. Remy Bergsma says:

    It would be nice if ads would be tested with a ‘live’ audience outside the company / ad agency before being released. Some agencies have budget for that, but not all do that. They can learn a lot from the response (or non-response!) of such a test audience.

    Then again, time and/or budget will work against that for most, so I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

  3. Ori Pomerantz says:

    The trick to avoiding meetings is to work from home. You still need to do online meetings and conf. calls, but nobody knows when you space out to do actual work.

  4. Cindy Gallop says:

    Thank you Tom! I talk about precisely the issue you discuss at the beginning of my presentation on ‘Redesigning The Business Of Advertising’:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media-network/video/2012/nov/02/advertising-business-cindy-gallop

  5. Nancy says:

    The person that created “skip this ad” is smart. The person who created this:
    http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-57372350-285/how-to-skip-ads-on-youtube/
    is genius!

    As much as I hate the video ads, its important to always have those hurdles we need to overcome to challenge us to create the advertising people want to see.

  6. Megan says:

    The reason people want to skip an ad on Youtube is because no one wants to sit and watch a 30 second ad before watching a 20 second Youtube clip. Really want to be successful as a Youtube advertiser? Create awesome 5 second ads.

  7. Barbara Moroch says:

    The problem is that the “skip this ad” option works very quickly – 3 to 5 seconds. That makes it even MORE of a challenge for advertisers to engage their audience in that short a time. Those first 3-5 seconds better be really outstanding…

  8. Sarah says:

    One of the biggest problems is that marketers have lost touch with the “consumer experience”. We need to balance the need for better metrics with the ability to step back and ask “would I like it if this happened to me?”

  9. Tom Larsen says:

    Or you need to make them worth talking about, like the new bi-racial Cheerios ad. Worth talking about!

  10. Tim Lewis says:

    YouTube is doing exactly what they’re supposed to do: give the user a feeling of control in the online environment. And it really does make you feel like you have to make a decision–is this ad interesting enough to keep watching. The message from YouTube is: “this advertising might be so good you don’t want to skip it”

    I think it works better than the Hulu “choose your ad experience” system, which is a complete joke, since they end up showing you ALL of those options in the course of your show anyway (inluding the very obnoxious one about the “perfect cup of espresso”). Hulu’s ad program seems to deliver this message: “watching ads sucks, but which of these is the lesser of two evils?”

  11. Concetta says:

    Things need to shift from “let’s annoy our users until they demand the ability to skip the very thing we’re getting paid for” to something where people want to see it, its not extraordinarily long, and its topical to the video being seen or the person’s data profile.

    Whoever can do that will have a trillion dollar idea on their hands. Living in the now, we have to deal with the consequences of the people who did awful, 60 sec videos on videos that made people hate them in the first place. Wouldn’t it be novel to be able to have the user vote on which ad that they’d like to see, and the ads with the most votes are the ones that are viewed that week?

  12. DSprogis says:

    Advertising undervalues our time. Last year advertisers spent $140b across a population of 310m, $450 per person. Of course, advertisers tried to reach some of us more than others. Perhaps Tom Fishburne’s audience is worth 4X, $1,800, for reasons of demographics and purchasing power.

    I don’t know about the rest of you but I received no value for that $1,800 and would gladly write an annual check for that amount to be completely ad-free.

  13. Karl Sakas says:

    I’m intrigued by companies that have a price for an “ad free” option. I like paying $36/year to have Pandora without ads. I happily paid an extra $20 for an Amazon Kindle without ads.

    You’re right, you have to be compelling if you want to keep people. At a gas station this weekend, I discovered the pump blared audio ads intended to entice me to buy things from the convenience store inside. Instead, they were loud and annoying.

    Not surprisingly, the advertising “Mute” button was the most-pressed button on the keypad: https://twitter.com/KarlSakas/status/343377789573005313

  14. Christopher Ott says:

    It’s simply emulating what was happening in the real world anyway. If your attention wasn’t captured in the the first 3 seconds of a TV ad, your brain would ‘skip’ it also.

    Now it’s measurable!

    Bam! This is awesome news, and great data for agencies to reference to sell in the wittier, more intelligent and more creative advertising.

  15. tomfishburne says:

    Hi all,

    This week’s winner is Concetta. I love the idea of an ad model where viewers vote on the ads most likely to be seen. Great insights from everyone, thanks!

    -Tom

  16. chris says:

    I think it doesnt matter how good those first 5 seconds are, the video afterwards, the very reason the person is there, is the goal:

    I guess the fundamental issue with being that ‘skip this ad’ advert is, its always an interruption, always.: If you are an advertiser, you really want to be the video AFTER the 5 second skip. You want to be the thing people are there for in the first place, the thing people are skipping other things for. Anything less than that is an interruption, even if its a good one

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