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May 17, 2008

AdSense Videos Not Necessarily Good

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In my last post, I "introduced" AdSense's new Video Units. I also railed against the size requirements a little bit in that post.

Now. Taking a step back, let me ask a question. What is the purpose of ads (AdSense ads in particular)? For most legitimate cases, the purpose is to enhance a page's content with topic-relevant alternative links, with the main incentive of earning a few cents per click. Note the word enhance, meaning "to add value to". You put ads on your site in the hopes that the links provided will provide enough potential quality that the user will click through. Now, another question: what do videos, the marketing tool of the Information Age, do by their very nature? They grab your attention, and they grab it hard! Have you ever found one specific video on YouTube, watched it, and immediately been pulled in to the "related videos" journey? Mm-hm. Guilty as charged :) . The "traditional" (if I may use the word here) ad system is to place a text block (which is easily skimmable, by the way!) within our content, where it sits quietly by in the hopes that some user may grace it with a mouse click. This new version? GRAB the user's attention away from the main content, and perhaps they might click the overlay ads in the process. These video ads, as big as they are, will steal the limelight from your content, if not placed appropriately. Really, I don't think the current sizes have an "appropriate" placement. You can either place them intrusively up front where they steal from your content, or you can place them out-of-the-way (long after your content) where they'll hardly be noticed.

Now, you'd think that's great, right? Grab their attention straight to the ad unit itself, no trouble? Well, it might be, if the overlay ads themselves were noticeable. I just added the mini player to my blog and played the first video on it, and the overlay ad was so annoying and detracting from my video experience so badly that I quickly hid it. That's right, there's a "close overlay ad" button. It reduces the entire money-making mechanism to a little "show ad" button in the bottom-right corner of the player. Now, how many people do you think, after having hidden the ad that was so darned annoying, will re-open that same ad to see if they want to click it? Certainly not me. I have more content to look through, and better things to do with my time.

Come to think of it, I might not even press the play button.

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