YouTube Connected TV Popularity Prompts Ad Break Testing

YouTube is increasingly popular among connected TV (CTV) viewers who no longer turn to the social video service only for music videos or one-off skits. YouTube says that in the U.S., 65 percent of CTV watch time is on content that is 21 minutes or longer. The shift has prompted the Google-owned platform to change its approach to display advertising. The company is experimenting with longer but fewer ad breaks and limiting creator control with regard to ad placement on new videos. A new countdown timer more prominently displays the time until an ad ends or can be skipped.

“Instead of showing short ads interspersed throughout a video, YouTube is trying out longer chunks of ads for non-Premium subscribers that appear in the middle of the content,” explains The Verge, adding that there’s no set lengths and the ad break formatting remains “dynamic,” according to YouTube Ad Products team chief Nicky Rettke.

The strategy aims at providing viewers with “a better viewing experience while watching long-form content — almost like a traditional commercial break during linear TV programming,” reports TechCrunch. YouTube added 30-second unskippable ads for connected TVs earlier this year, reporting in April that it reached 150 million CTV viewers.

“With the latest announcement, the company said people are watching over 700 million hours of YouTube content on TV screens daily,” notes TechCrunch, calling this “an important ad surface for the company.”

YouTube is also trying out a new ad countdown timer. “In place of the ‘video will play after ads’ message in the bottom-right corner of the ad, you’ll see a countdown timer with the remaining time for the ads” The Verge writes, illustrating the change via an embedded GIF.

In other YouTube ad news, the platform is removing creator control over some ad placements. “Moving forward, creators will only be able to decide between displaying ads before or after a video, and whether to have this option on or off,” writes Search Engine News, which says that with the option on, “YouTube will automatically decide which ad type to display as appropriate,” while creators “will still have complete control over mid-roll ads.”

In a blog post about the ad changes, YouTube cited a Kantar survey of weekly video viewers in which more than half of those polled “said the first app they opened on their TV screen was YouTube,” as well as the fact that Nielsen’s The Gauge report has found YouTube to be the number one streaming watch among CTV viewers for nine consecutive months.

Although YouTube’s current experimentation centers around CTV and long-form video, the company highlighted the popularity of YouTube Shorts, which does brisk business in the mobile space, where it is “watched by over 2 billion users every month,” the company says.

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