YouTube Rolls Out Post-Roll Video Ads

YouTube, which has never had trouble growing an audience but hasn’t yet figured out the trick for monetizing them thar eyeballs, is adding a trick from the old playbook: post-roll advertisements. As we understand it (and this has been confirmed with the company), if you don’t click on an overlay ad when it shows up in a clip you’re watching, the video ad it would have played rolls automatically at the end of your video. Previously a post-roll video wouldn’t play without being initiated by the user. This type of ad started rolling out over the last few weeks.

The post-rolls, like all ads on YouTube, only play on a portion of the 4 percent or so of the site’s videos uploaded by official partners with revenue-sharing agreements. The included screenshots show two instances of ads for Sanctuary, the web series picked up by Sci-Fi.

The Wall Street Journal reported in July that YouTube was considering including pre- and post-roll ads as one potential way to boost ad revenue. The fact that this type of ad plays automatically makes it much more likely that viewers will watch it.

Pre-rolls, however, are the far more intrusive of the two, because by definition a user has to finish watching such an ad before proceeding to the video he or she has already chosen to watch. But even post-roll ads are a significant reversal for Google-owned YouTube. When the site initially announced its in-video overlay ads last year, it justified the somewhat unconventional ad formats by saying 75 percent of its users who saw tests of pre- and post-roll ads were unhappy with them.

Just this summer Google CEO Eric Schmidt touted the effectiveness of embedded ads versus pre- and post-rolls. And earlier in the year he promised forthcoming ad products that would be “much more participative, much more creative, much more — much more interesting in and of themselves” than in-line ads. Since then, new products have included ad formats like a full-screen HD movie trailer and publisher tools like “Hot Spots,” which shows which parts of a video viewers are most interested in. That is to say, very few socks were blown off.

So for now, at least, the next big thing is hardly new.