You know those Web ads that give you the option to skip them? There’s a method to that madness.
Several months back, YouTube started giving viewers the option to skip video advertisements after the first five seconds. The results of that type of marketing provided a window into consumer preferences.
If an ad was considered relevant, or simply engaging, during the first 5-10 seconds, consumers were likely to watch the majority of the ad. If the ad failed to engage the viewer, he/she would click through.
Hulu.com, on the other hand, added a button at the top of ads, asking viewers to click based on whether or not the ad they were watching was relevant to them.
That type of intelligence has led a slew of online advertisers to start exploring a new realm of thought – specifically, why not let consumers choose the advertisement they’d prefer to watch based on which product or service seems the most intriguing to them?
Hulu recently gave visitors the option to “swap” one ad for another, based on personal tastes or interests. Example: If Coca-Cola has purchased that ad space, viewers can choose between an ad for Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Sprite.
Obviously, if this type of advertising catches on, it could lead to sharper marketing analytics, allowing companies to devote more focus to which products and ads produce the most bang for their online buck.
One obvious drawback: Viewers may see this type of advertising as one more obstacle to viewing the content they came to the site for in the first place. If that’s the case, it could affect traffic, ad buys, and the online marketing process altogether.
If the user doesn’t choose an ad in a specific amount of time, the site will choose an ad for him/her, in order to save the process from stalling users who may have minimized the screen, etc.
YouTube isn’t completely sold on the idea yet, and continues to roll out multiple-choice ads only in small, beta testing controls.
One final option that’s gaining traction: Engage the viewer by turning the ad into a trivia contest or quick game of skill. This way, the user feels entertained, while the advertiser maintains a captive audience.
Source: “Commercials, by Multiple Choice,” by Randall Stross, New York Times, 10/30/11.