YouTube Pre-Rolls? Think Inside the Box

Commenters were quick to condemn YouTube’s plan to add pre-rolls to its videos. With so many people hating on pre-rolls, why on earth would YouTube do it? Obviously, YouTube’s need to kick-start the cash flow is the biggest reason to implement the hated ad format, but I wonder if the Google folks are actually getting two steps ahead back to oldteevee.

YouTube is already prepping itself for life beyond the PC by getting its content on all kinds of set-top boxes and even inside the TVs themselves. Pre-rolls are basically commercials, and people are already used to watching those in their living room, so perhaps this is a way to lay the groundwork for the time when you watch The Evolution of Dance on your plasma.

This notion might be giving the Googsters too much credit. From The Wall Street Journal article, it seems that the company can barely get its own sales teams in gear. Plus, the number of people who visit YouTube online will dwarf the number that watch it on the boob tube for the immediate future.

But it’s just a matter of time before watching web video on your oldteevee becomes commonplace. Better to get people used to the idea now and work out all of the kinks—both internally and externally—sooner than later.

YouTube on a TV set isn’t a browser-based experience right now. Companies are creating their own YouTube channel areas that will presumably look different from one another; Panasonic’s channel will be different than the Sony YouTube area, which will also look different than the HP one. So, why hassle with an array of display ads on differently-formatted services when you can slot one 15-second pre-roll in front of a video that will work on all them?

And let’s not forget that advertisers love the pre-roll format. It’s easy for them to understand, they’ll be able to recycle their existing television creative to run as a web video ad that will be displayed, once again, on a television.

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