How marketers make their messages unskippable


What do you do when you don’t want to watch the ad before the YouTube video you just found? You simply skip it.

We take it for granted these days, as already three out of four ads in YouTube videos around the world are skippable. But putting consumers in control of what they watch has been one of the biggest revolutions in advertising in recent times.

The benefit for the viewer is obvious; they can get straight to the content they want to watch if the ad isn’t relevant to them. But advertisers benefit too, because they only pay if their ad is watched in full or for more than 30 seconds.

Recently, we’ve also seen signs that this little ‘skip’ button is becoming as well known as other iconic web buttons, like ‘send’ and ‘like’. What gave it away? Creatives are embracing the skip functionality in the ads themselves, as a way of helping their ads stand out from the online and traditional TVC crowd.

Here are some of my current favourite examples of video ads from Australia and over the ditch that are getting super creative with YouTube’s skip button.

Allianz Insurance’s ‘One trusted partner’ shows a guy who presses a ‘be ok’ button after he smashes his car against his garage wall. Miraculously, time is rewound and his car is okay again. The button he clicks resembles the YouTube 'skip ad' button right below it, and when the viewer clicks the ‘be ok’ button before the actor does, the viewer herself is rewinding the time in the video. This is a clever way to get your audience playing and interacting with your creative.

The Australian Federal Government’s recent campaign ‘Stop before the suffering starts’ to help people quit smoking is not for the faint-hearted. The latest video ad shows a smoker in bed struggling to breathe, and the video boldly claims that “you can skip this ad but you can’t skip suffering years from emphysema”. This shows just how much we’ve come to know and rely upon skippable ads.

Having the 'skip' option also means this ad creates a good user experience (given that a lot of people are non-smokers and it won’t be relevant to them) and it also means the government is not using the taxpayer’s money for irrelevant views. Still, more than 1.3 million people have actively chosen to watch this ad.

Over the ditch, Kiwibank Business Banking claims that its products will save businesses time and money. With its latest video ad, it turns all advertising rules on their heads. The ad directly asks the viewer to skip as it will “save the viewer time” – and “Kiwibank money”. And this is all done in the first five seconds of the ad, which is free for the bank as an advertiser. Very Kiwi, very tongue-in-cheek. Can you imagine such an ad on TV or radio?

These are just three examples of out-of-the-box thinking and engaging creative turning a potential challenge into a point of difference to their competitors. What can you come up with?

Oliver Grundy is head of YouTube solutions, Google Australia & New Zealand

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