Ads are YouTube’s bread and butter, but they’re still barely enough to keep the Google-owned company profitable. In order to fix this, YouTube is approaching the issue from two directions. The obvious way to improve profitability is to get more people watching your ads, however, the harder but more lucrative way would be to make your ads more valuable. To do this, YouTube has implemented a new feature that lets you purchase stuff directly from its pre-roll ads.
YouTube, which has 1 billion monthly users and zero profits, will attempt to boost revenue by letting you shop from its pre-roll advertisements. This assumes that you actually watch pre-roll advertisements, rather than spend an agonizing 5 seconds looking anywhere but the screen while you wait for the “Skip this ad” button to appear, and actually want to buy the things you see in YouTube ads, which mostly you do not. We clicked over to YouTube just now and got a pre-roll ad for a Sea-Doo water scooter, which is not the sort of thing we would impulse-buy from a pre-roll ad running in front of a playthrough video for Bloodborne, though that’s just us. Google announced the new ad format today at the Ad:Tech SF meeting, and expounded on it in an accompanying blog post. “Whether it’s watching a product review or learning how to bake a soufflé, we look to video in countless moments throughout the day to help us get things done,” Google said. “We call these micro-moments — when we reflexively turn to our devices to learn more, make a decision, or purchase a product.” Shoppable pre-roll ads, YouTube says, will let users “connect the dots” between the moment they watch and the moment they make a purchase.