Brace Yourself For More Video Ads With YouTube First Watch

By Megan O'Neill Comment

According to the NY Times, YouTube is ramping up their preroll video ads with a new service called First Watch.  Inspired by the success of commercials on the YouTube homepage, First Watch is a new service for advertisers that launches today, letting advertisers buy preroll spots on the first video a viewer watches each day.

YouTube’s senior product manager for video monetization, Baljeet Singh, told Stuart Elliott of the NY Times that First Watch comes on the tails of a high rate of success from ads on the YouTube homepage masthead.  He says that the ads have been so successful that, with 150 million global impressions per day, they are “starting to sell out.”  Singh says, “We started thinking about how we could extend that offering to advertisers.”  The answer?  The First Watch program.

The goal of the First Watch program, as described by Singh, is to “show an ad on the watch page to users the first time they watch a video.”  When a user enters YouTube directly through the homepage by going to, they see the homepage ads.  However, if a user clicks on a link to go to a video directly they bypass the homepage and advertisers miss out on that impression.  First Watch solves this problem by ensuring that viewers see a preroll ad on the first YouTube video they watch every day.

When I first read this news I was a little bit disappointed, to say the least.  I mean, who wants to be greeted with an pre-roll video ad first thing every morning while waiting to watch a recommended clip?  But according to the NY Times article, the First Watch ads will only appear on YouTube Partner channels.  So the good news is that all the ordinary user-generated clips will remain ad free as they have been.  Plus, when you really think about it, what’s the addition of one measly pre-roll ad in the grand scheme of things?  It could mean a big revenue boost for YouTube, but probably won’t really have much affect on us viewers.

The truth of the matter is that many Partner videos already have pre-roll advertisements tacked on them, so you may not feel much of a difference as First Watch rolls out.  However, the First Watch program does guarantee advertisers that their ad will be displayed along with the first partner video you watch each day.  Once you’ve watched that first video, video ads will display as they usually would on subsequent videos that you watch throughout the day.

First Watch is set to launch publicly today with a Macy’s Million Dollar Makeover With Clinton Kelly campaign.  According to Elliot, “A 15-second spot will invite viewers to tune in at noon, Eastern Time, on Tuesday for the final episode of the contest and watch the episode, scheduled to run 18 minutes, through a YouTube player.”

Did you see the Macy’s ad on your first video this morning?  What do you think of YouTube’s First Watch program?  Scroll down and let us know in the comments below.

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.