Idea: How to Put Ads into YouTube

So, I've been reading Bob Garfield's article in Wired about the uneasy relationship between YouTube and advertising and how the old TV world is falling apart (the mag runs another article on the future of TV in the same issue). He talks about how hard it is to monetize YouTube's content and lists a number of challenges.

"First, there's the basic question of where, exactly, to put the ads. Prior to the acquisition, YouTube refused to sell ads appended to either end of a video – like a TV commercial – on the grounds of safeguarding the viewer experience. This leaves as available ad real estate only the space adjacent to the video window – which is great for whoever is hosting the video. But [...] a significant portion of YouTube videos are embedded elsewhere, mainly on individual MySpace pages."

Well, here's one idea:

Embed a banner into the player -- it should be technologically easy since it's all Flash. To safeguard YouTube's user experience, show the ads only when the videos are embedded into third-party sites (or on YouTube site to unregistered guests). Equip the banner with secondary controls to let the users play the video ad if they are interested. I'm guessing that animated ads here would be too distracting, but static ones should be ok. Perhaps share the revenue with creators and registered users who embed the videos elsewhere and thus increase the number of impressions.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Comments are open, and so is my email.


  1. My thoughts:

    1.) Ads embedded within the flash video would effectively be out of the reach of tools like Greasemonkey that make day-to-day web browsing bearable for many.

    2.) It would only be a matter of time before we began to see embedded ads that obscured all or part of the video content or interfered with the video in some other way (just as we have "floating" banners, page curl effects, and the like in web pages now).

    3.) Given #1 and #2, seeing an advert embedded in that fashion would leave me wanting to stab whomever produced the advert, as well as whomever allowed it to be embedded in that video and whomever distributed it, in the neck and dance naked in the resulting spray of blood.

  2. The problem with flash link is that it demands interaction on thepart of viewer (viz clicking it). As advertisement is a push selling, its uncompatible with this pull approach.

    Another fundamental problem with YouTube videos is that posted videos are too short to put a 30 second spot. Imagine 40 sec video clip with 30 sec ad spot. Unless videos are sufficiently longer, which is not feasible at the current state, XXX billion ad market is out of reach.

    My suggestion would be to put a short spot at the end of the youtube posted video. That short 3 - 5 sec spot will be sufficient only to raise an awareness. OR, the spot can be posted before the actual you tube video with a small progress bar showing loading the video you requested. If the youtube screen would stop,after the video is over, showing the link of advertiser, its a cerise sur le gateaux. This will permit to track user, just as suggested in your post

  3. Still not convinced, still not convinced.

    Brian, 1: The part about Greasemonkey is true, although I suspect its adoption is much lower in the non-tech circles. People greasemonkey AdSense, which doesn't prevent GOOG from making piles of money.

    Brian, 2: Just as it is with other websites, it will be up to YouTube to dictate what ad formats they are willing to tolerate. GOOG has shown it knows better than to annoy its users through fancy "rich media" formats.

    Artha, 1: There will be plenty of exposure resulting from even a static banner that remains within the peripheral vision of the viewer while the video plays. Whatever exposure the full video ads will get after the click will be more valuable since it's been on-demand.

    Artha, 2: If the video ads are "on-demand", it doesn't really matter how long they are since the experience is non-interruptive.

    Artha, 3: The article in Wired argues against both pre-roll and post-roll and what it says seems reasonable. People hate pre-roll, and don't stick around enough for post-roll.

    Now, one other option would be to add a "hot link" layer over the video so that people can click on the objects they see and buy a copy.

  4. Another option can be a viral campaign like this Danish Bank has figured out...

  5. These guys have a whole class on how to monetize youtube videos - they have some great ideas, including clickable elements integrated into the video content, not just constant on the bottom of the frame.

    check out their video:

  6. YouTube says the video is private. Can't access it. But I've seen the idea of having clickable elements embedded into the video; that's the one I linked to in the previous reply.

  7. Personally, I feel that creators should be able to place ads on their own videos as they feel. A simple banner or logo on a video won't obstruct any viewing pleasure. Anyways, Youtube allows large company advertisements to be posted on their site, so why can't little guys use the site for advertisements. Since YouTube counts the number of views a video gets, it would be very simple for the creators to get paid properly by the advertiser they chose to work with.

  8. Do you think people are going to sit around watching 2-3 minutes clips..only? Watching eepybird or lonelygirl for a few minutes while the boss is away is in sum not that big a deal. When long-form video comes to the web (Venice Project, Gridfold)there will be plenty of places to stick 30 second spots.

  9. i'm not sure if ads within embedded content would be OK with myspace's terms of service? for example, one section says "Commercial advertisements, affiliate links, and other forms of solicitation may be removed from Member profiles without notice and may result in termination of Membership privileges." elsewhere, it says prohibited activies include "advertising to, or solicitation of, any Member to buy or sell any products or services through the MySpace Services." i'm no lawyer, and i don't know if embedded videos that contained ads would fall under these clauses or not...

  10. From a technical point of view, serving Flash ads into Flash content is actually suprisingly tricky. Security issues need to be overcome, as well as visual issues such as the masking of the creative into the expected dimensions. Not impossible, but not trivial either.

    We've produced a demo showing how this can work:

    In terms of formats, there's not going to be a single answer. Options for unobtrusive video can include "bugs" which overlay on top of the video, skinned players, clickable video (Sweetspotting), and other elements. These ad units can then be combined with post-roll video for a good mix of branded and direct response media.

    For some examples of how this can be accomplished, I've put together an interactive demo of different video effects in a Flash player.

    I'm not trying to sell anyone anything, I just think the readership here would be interested.

    Ari Paparo
    VP Rich Media

  11. I'm so excited! I just found these posts and I must have foresaw the future because I placed a patent for this very topic up almost 2 years ago before the video explosion. No one understood me then but wow, it's has been amazing to see the evolution of thought finally progress to this huge marketing potential. I have already solved the solution to undercut the gootube deal bigtime and give ad power to the people. Contact me at I am ready to start development on the idea and finish my prototype into a production site.


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