Google AdSense is eliminating its video units feature, which allows publishers to show YouTube content and video ads on their pages. Google says that by the end of April, the feature will be fully eliminated for existing AdSense clients and that new clients of the revenue sharing ad program will no longer be given the option to place video ads on their pages through the program. Publishers can still display video content on their pages by pulling embed codes directly from YouTube.
Unsurprisingly, Google says it eliminated the video ads because of poor performance. It is difficult to figure out a sustainable ad model for video, which is why pre-rolls remain more common. But the problem with video ads may not be the ad unit itself but but the underlying content. Brand advertisers don’t want their names associated with random words spoken in videos. You simply cannot efficiently and consistently target ads based on three words in a video. For instance, if someone is watching a clip of “Snakes on a Plane,” it’s probably not the best place to put a travel ad. And search marketers can find better places to put contextual ads. Clarification: The video units are not the same as AdSense for Video. Rather, they are video commercials that are served through YouTube. So my critique above of contextual text advertising overlayed onto regular video content does not apply in this instance.
It seems this latest announcement is part of a growing trend of Google axing programs in AdSense. Google recently pulled the plug on its Google Radio Ads and was looking to sell off its Google Radio Automation software business. That news came less than a month after Google decided to bail on selling print ads. We hate to say we told you so but we saw the writing on the wall about adding video ads to AdSense awhile ago.