YouTube tests skippable ad units

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As Google looks for ways to monetize YouTube, the video-sharing Web site is testing an in-stream ad unit that lets viewers skip through an ad with the goal of making online video advertising more relevant.

YouTube first tested in-stream ads in 2007, and found abandonment rates were as high as 70%, with users far more likely to watch and engage with overlays. Since then, sites like Hulu and TV.com have made consumers used to watching long-form content online and more comfortable with ads, said Aaron Zamost, a spokesperson for YouTube.

The concept of the ad unit is that while users are given the tools to skip the ads they don't want to see, when they do in fact watch them, they will do so with more engagement.

“Advertisers are often willing to pay more for engaged views,” said Zamost. “Users that actually want to watch an ad are more engaged.”

YouTube began testing the units this week. The Google division will examine audience and content habits, with an overall goal of making the ads more effective for viewers and advertisers.

YouTube has found that when a pre-roll ad is only 15 seconds long, viewers complete it as much as 85% of the time. In addition, YouTube found that high-quality and relevant ads have three times the influence on abandonment online as they do on TV.

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