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Online Video Ads Hit a New Record

The ways in which companies are advertising on the web are not drastically different than how they were presented in the previous years. What is changing, at an unbelievably fast rate, is the amount of online ads a person is seeing per month.

If you take a look at the average website, you’ll notice something about the advertisements; you’ve been able to block them out pretty well. Audiences have become so used to advertisements cluttering web pages that the ads often fail to register with the constituents at all.

In addition to plain web page advertisements, television commercials are becoming an increasingly less effective way to reach an audience. The invention of Tivo started the ball rolling. In my household, Tivo was not only a way to record shows if we were not able to watch them live, but even if we were home and watching TV, we would postpone watching our favorite shows until enough of it was recorded so we could skip over the commercials.

Product placements, such as Simon Cowell’s Coke cup on American Idol and Dr. House’s iPhone, have become a way to reach viewers who fast forward through commercials using DVR’s.

The newest solution is to make unskippable advertisements on video sites. In June, 11 billion ads were streamed on online video sites (with a staggering majority of that coming from Youtube and Hulu). Those 11 billion ads were a new record, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone. At the time, May 2012 had the record for most online video ads viewed. And April before that. And March before that.

Youtube is to online videos as McDonalds is to hamburgers. The popular video site represents more than 99% of all video viewership on Google. In June 2012, Youtube had 147.4 million unique viewers on their site, more than Yahoo, VEVO and Facebook... combined. This is also the first month ever that Youtube has surpassed Hulu in number of online video advertisements seen. So what’s good for Youtube as far as video advertising is good for video advertising in general.

If we look at online videos as an alternative to television, advertisers will find that these two mediums as fairly equal in terms of ads versus content viewed. In June, advertisements accounted for 25% of all online video content viewed. That is not too far off from the amount of ads seen on TV (a little over 7 minutes of ads for a 30 minute TV show.) This could be an indicator, along with the increased membership rates to Hulu Plus and Netflix, that computers have the capability to eventually take over television as the main source of video content.

Advertisements have had one nagging issue at their core: people don’t want to watch them and they annoy the viewer who just wants to see the video content. The TV audience got a break from ads with Tivo. Advertisements on websites have become so easy to spot and part of our daily lives that many people do not even notice them anymore. So it would be premature to say that advertisers have found a way to solve the issue of forcing people to look at the ad, because as we’ve seen with other mediums, their effect will wear off eventually. It doesn’t help that skipping an online ad now simply means turning the sound off for 30 seconds while you look away or briefly open up a new page. Personally, I open Facebook to check for notifications while ads are playing.

So although advertisers have found a way to significantly increase the amount of eyes on their ads, this is not a permanent solution. The consumer is constantly trying to avoid the ads while the advertiser is trying to get as many ads seen as possible. It is a constant cat-and-mouse chase, and at this moment it seems the cat has the mouse where he wants it. But as we learned from Tom and Jerry, the mouse will always escape the cat’s grasp, and the hunt will continue.