YouTube. It has fundamentally changed the way we use the Internet. Anything from spinning cats, to news, clips, to music and everyday people doing ordinary and extraordinary things. YouTube has made celebrities out of ordinary people who were brave (stupid?) enough to upload their video for the world to see.
We love YouTube. However, the one thing we don’t love are those adverts that interrupt our beloved clip
So why are those ads there ? Does anyone actually watch those YouTube ads ? Are they effective at all ?
I have read many articles showing that some people do watch the advert some of the time but it all depends on the content and what they want to see. Since South Africa does not behave like the rest of the world, I set out to understand the local viewing preferences for YouTube ads.
I realised early on in my investigation that simply surveying people was not going to cut-it. I needed a more scientific test to accurately measure how people react to the adverts they see on YouTube.
The most optimum way to conduct this research was by tracking and measuring the user experience. This can only be done accurately by using Eye Tracking system. This system locks on the pupil of the eye and unobtrusively tracks and records the movement of the pupil as the test subject views the material on the screen.
The eye tracking system is made up of a combination of the TOBII hardware and the iMotions – Attention Tool Eye tracking software along with the South African modifications this becomes the perfect solution. The reason I chose the TOBII hardware was for its ease of use and the portability as I could set up the mobile lab at any location. The Attention software also allows for on the spot analysis to be done for instant results.
The Test Group:
The test group consisted of random strangers that I asked to help when I set up the system in a coffee shop in Johannesburg. It was made up of 32 people, both males and females, ages ranging from 21 up to 52 with varied ethnicity.
The ads that appear before the YouTube video clip you want to watch are known as TrueView In-Stream (pre-roll ads). These ads last between 30 and 60 seconds and can be skipped after 5 seconds of viewing.
Our research shows that 32 out of 32 test subjects (100%) people were simply waiting for the SKIP button and did not view the advert at all. When asked about these ads they all said that they could not recall what the ads were for and could not recall a time when they watched the entire advert (during the test or previously). All of the test group clicked on the skip button as soon as it was available.
Full eye tracking video clip of pre-roll ads:
During the videos, there are pop-up text Ads that can appear. These were much better received. 30 out of 32 test subjects (93%) said that ads that were related to the video they were watching were not deemed as having interrupted the viewing experience but enhancing it. 27 out of 32 test subjects (84%) clicked on the ad.
Full Video of effective pop-up Ads inside YouTube clip:
It seems that our eyes are automatically attracted to any text that appear inside the video clip. When we tested the group on the Sensation video clip 32 out of 32 test subjects (100%) were instantly attracted to the text.
Full Video of effective Text inside YouTube clip:
So in Summary:
The Eye Tracking system clearly revels how the test subjects experienced and reacted to the adverts when they appeared inside YouTube.
Initially I would have thought that absolutely no ones clicks on any YouTube adverts, it seems like people do. The golden secret: If the advert is text based that appears whilst watching the clip and not before AND the text is related to what they are watching, then people do click on it.
The full extent of the research also shows which video clips work best for brands over other clips that do not and the Eye Tracking technology is something that any brand spending money on YouTube (or any other medium) should deploy to always ensure their best work is produced maximizing the effectiveness of their material.