Are Ads Taking Over The World Of Online Video?

Geico Biscuit AdThese days it sometimes feels like you can’t watch video content on the web at all without sitting through an ad. Either you have to wait for an ad to stream before your video will start playing or you have to deal with closing annoying popups as the video plays. In recent weeks there has been a lot of speculation about the future of online video advertising, with video ad companies raising millions of dollars in funding. Hulu recently announced that it would offer ad-free viewing for paid customers. However, will the rest of us non-paying video consumers have to deal with an onslaught of ads for the rest of our video viewing lives?

This week, two video advertising companies announced that they have raised millions of dollars in venture capital. FreeWheel has raised $16.8 million and Tremor Media raised $40 million for web video ads. Video advertising companies like FreeWheel and Tremor make their money from hosting teasers and bumper ads, pre-expanding ads which start out large and then shrink down, ads which appear in the lower third of the video screen and more. I always thought that banners and pop-ups were annoying, but for me these on screen video ads really take the cake, making me wait, getting in the way and distracting me from the video I’m trying to watch.

In a live webcast held yesterday by Akamai HD, Karsten Weide of IDC said something interesting about online video advertising. He said that when overlay ads began to show up on web videos people found them very annoying and had a very low tolerance for them. However, as time has passed online video viewers are becoming much more tolerant towards overlay ads. Does this mean that video sites and advertisers are going to gradually increase our tolerance until we are left with more advertisements than actual video content?

That being said, I understand that video sites and content creators need to make money so advertising cannot be avoided entirely. Therefore, I appeal to online video advertisers to provide ad content that is at least slightly entertaining. After all, it’s better to be entertained than to stare at a boring, lifeless ad while we’re waiting for our videos to play. One pre-roll ad has really caught my attention over the last couple of weeks on YouTube – Geico’s ‘Biscuit’ ad. This ad makes me giggle every time I see it, so I don’t feel like I lost 16 seconds of my life waiting for my video to start playing. I hope all advertisers will take a hint from Geico and entertain us while promoting their products.

Do you feel overwhelmed by online video advertising? Do you think video ads will get better or worse in the future?