You might have heard of it, and you most surely noticed it while browsing on Youtube, ad pods are now a thing. Here is a short article that will tell you all you need to know about them in 3 questions going from the explanation of the concept to how it can impact your ad performance.
1. What are ad pods ?
Ad pods are Youtube’s new way of delivering advertising. The format actually has been mentioned already in mid 2012 by the IAB VAST 3.0 as ad elements sequenced together and played back-to-back within a single ad break. In Youtube’s case, it is two ads that are stacked together. They can be displayed as Pre-Rolls, Mid-Rolls, as well as Post-Rolls and will only appear on a content of at least 5 minutes.
Youtube ad pods can be one of the following combinaison:
• Two skippable TrueView ads,
• A skippable TrueView ad, followed by a six-second bumper ad,
• A six-second bumper ad followed by a skippable TrueView ad,
• Two un-skippable six-second bumper ads,
Now, viewers have thus the option to skip one or both of those ads to get directly to the content. If a viewer skips the first ad in the pod, they’ll go directly to their content without seeing a second ad. Youtube also says that when a user watches two ads in a row, they will experience fewer interruptions in their viewing session. In fact, in early experiments, users who engage with multiple ads in an ad break experience up to 40% fewer interruptions , says the video broadcasting company.
2. Why did Youtube make this move?
About a year ago, Youtube started to test out “ad pods”, which are now becoming the standard. The main reason behind this choice is a recent user experience study conducted by Youtube. The findings of this research were that viewers are sensitive not only to the length of the ad but also the frequency of ad break, especially during longer viewing sessions. It also suggests that fewer ad interruptions correlate with better user metrics, such as lower rates of content abandonment and higher rates of ad viewing. Some other sources also advocate that the introduction of the ad pods is related to the growing usage of Youtube on TV screens. Youtube would thus want to deliver a TV-like experience to its viewers.
3. Why should we care as advertisers?
With the early release testing of Ad Pods, Youtube shared that they found an “8-11 percent increase in unique reach and a 5-10 percent increase in frequency for advertisers, with no impact to Brand Lift metrics.” This is another evidence that Youtube is now talking to TV ad buyers by telling them they provide an increased opportunity to reach users (improve "reach and frequency") and the ability to hit more people in a brand's target audience.
They also reassure the advertisers by sharing that :
- They observe no difference in Brand Lift between position A and position Z in the ad pod,
- They observe no difference in Brand Lift between ads that run in a pod and ads that don’t run in a pod.
In terms of Analytics, there are a couple more things you should know.
First of all, for now, there is no way for you to know if you video ad was placed in an ad pod or not, and this will probably not appear in the future as the brand hasn’t seen any difference in performance between ads that run in ad pods or between ads that run in different slots in an ad pod.
Secondly, you cannot know who was the other advertiser in your ad pod. However, Youtube assures that the system will prevent brand video ads from serving next to any video ad classified in a competing product or services.
Thirdly, if I want to increase my chance to appear as the first ad of the ad pod, it all comes down to my bid. Our contact at Youtube explained: “The price of the first position in an ad pod (aka position A) is determined by the 2nd highest bid (as normal); the price of the second position in an ad pod (aka position Z) is determined by the 3rd highest bid.”
Youtube ad pods are now a real thing and you cannot go around it. With the addition of this new kind of ad delivering, your creative is now competing for headspace against another ad placed either directly before or directly after it. This means that your video strategy should be even more robust than it used to be. In order to deliver high-impact video ads, remember to:
- Make the first few seconds count (you only have 5 seconds before the viewer’s ability to skip),
- Show yourself by displaying your brand logo,
- Find out and use the best call-to-action for your product.