YouTube have done a lot of things worth celebrating (and criticising) this year. They’ve celebrated their 10th anniversary, launched some great verticals in “YouTube Kids” and “Gaming“; and with YouTube Red, have opened the door for creators to begin earning a living from their videos, without the need for advertising.
But obviously, with AdSense ads, in-video advertising and pre-roll videos, YouTube is one of the biggest advertising platforms in the world; so you can imagine that their new subscription-based initiative might make their advertisers a little jumpy. So as 2015 draws to a close, YouTube have elected to throw them a bone in a really weird way.
Presenting: YouTube’s first ever vote-in competition for your favourite pre-roll ad video of the year: #TheYouTubeAd.
Partnering up with the Webby Awards, YouTube are highlighting some of their biggest video ads from this year in a week of voting (with 5 days left). Five categories, each with five videos, encourage you to vote for the ad that “You Wish You Were In”, or “Restores Your Faith In Humanity”, or “Gives You Feels”.
Which is a biiiit weird, isn’t it?
Let’s be honest: Nobody is really a massive fan of ads on YouTube. Sure, our favourite creators rely on them as a source of income, and some can be pretty entertaining; but for the most part, without an alternative form of funding, we’ve just quietly accepted advertising as a necessary evil for keeping the site running.
But few people have a favourite advert (except for anything from Old Spice, because come on) unless that ad has had some massive viral success; and while a lot of the videos featured in the nominations have earned that honour (Always’ #LikeAGirl campaign, the Lexus hoverboard and Justin Bieber’s iconic Calvin Klein shoot), your favourite videos tend not to be the one that you immediately skip after three seconds.
It might just be me, but regardless of any press coverage they got on their release, I’m fairly certain I haven’t watched a single one of the 25 ads featured in this competition all the way through. Have you? Or are they all just part of the inevitable background noise of YouTube?
Although on the flipside, maybe my kneejerk reaction to celebrating what is considered one of the most annoying parts of YouTube might be overly biased. After all, despite the fact that they’re inescapable and representative of big brands, these are still YouTube videos. They’re pieces of content created by teams of passionate and creative people, frequently overlooked due to the nature of their final production.
Given that even the most inane vlogs can be worshipped by the fans of YouTubers that we know and love, maybe these videos are also due a little bit of credit; even if they do feel like an obstacle between you and your favourite vlogger’s new upload.
What do you think? Should we be giving YouTube ads the award ceremony treatment? Is it weird to be asked to vote on something designed to make you spend money? Is this all a weird stunt to make advertisers happy? Let us know in the comments or on our Twitter!