YouTube Video Advertising: No Pre-roll, No Context

youtube.jpgLiz Gannes at NewTeeVee profiles YouTube’s move into in-video advertising. We covered the move by YouTube to offer revenue sharing with its top content providers May 4 and I noted at the time that there was no sign then of any pre-roll advertising. There still isn’t.

The new in-video Google/ YouTube advertising is immediately comparable to Adbrite’s InVideo service. Text ads are imposed over the video in both. The similarity ends there. Where as Adbrite’s offering provides a text link that follows through to an external site, YouTube’s new offering is essentially video-in-video. Clicking on the advertising text results in a video advertisement appearing on top of the player.

It’s a marked step forward in Google’s quest to better monetize YouTube, but I remain unconvinced. The sample shot at NewTeeVee says it all for me. An advert is provided at the base of a My Chemical Romance video for Cingular/ AT&T. Cingular may be the new AT&T but what in the world does it have to do with My Chemical Romance? Absolutely nothing. There’s no context, not contextual matching and delivery. Are users viewing this video or other music videos likely to be interested in an optional advertisement from AT&T, one that interupts their viewing?

In some ways it’s classic Google fence sitting. They need to make better returns from YouTube but they seem reluctant to impose pre and post rolls on hosted videos. Instead they are now offering a half way option, one that they may argue empowers viewers with choice, but one that in effect will only allow viewers to avoid viewing ads.

Pre and post rolls, when done right like the Dewars Whiskey campaign at the Onion News Network work and work well. More importantly they can’t be avoided.

No one likes watching commercials and yet it’s commercial advertisers that provide the money to sustain much of our existing forms of media. YouTube may be a poster child of Web 2.0 and user generated content, but economics can not be avoided. Google still has a long way to go in recouping its 1.5 billion dollars. The new advertising service might bring is some extra revenue, but I just can’t see it being a massive winner.