YouTube is making choices on behalf of its creators. In a reversal of its previous policy, the leading platform will automatically select ad formats on videos that have monetization turned on.
A YouTube team member named Rob outlined the new ad rules in a post on the Google Support forum. In hopes of “optimizing creator revenue” and “taking the guesswork out of which ad formats to use,” YouTube is removing manual ad controls on new uploads. As long as creators turn on ads, their videos will be filled with a mix of pre-roll and post-roll spots. Under the new system, YouTube will also determine whether channels run skippable or unskippable ads.
Creators will still be able to determine the frequency and location of ad breaks within their content. The expansion of mid-rolls will be particularly useful on live streams, where creators can delay, skip, and manually insert ad breaks.
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“Mid-rolls have become part of the viewing experience so we’re giving creators more mid-roll controls to help increase potential earnings,” reads YouTube’s forum post. “On live streams we’re introducing new options including YouTube-optimized mid-roll frequency, self-selected mid-roll frequency, and new live display ads.”
Long-form videos will also get a new mid-roll option. Creators will be able to apply YouTube’s in-house intelligence in order to determine when they should serve ads to their viewers.
Outside of mid-rolls, YouTube is taking the reins away from its partners. That change has inspired some critiques on social media, but as the forum post points out, few creators took advantage of the ability to select individual ad formats. “Most creators shouldn’t notice a change as they already have many of these ad formats turned on by default,” the post reads. “In the last year, for long-form videos that were enabled for monetization at time of publishing, more than 90% of videos had pre-roll, post-roll, skippable, and non-skippable ads turned on.”
YouTube’s data shows both the benefits and drawbacks of mixing together multiple ad types. Adding unskippable or pre-roll spots to a channel that already serves up other formats tends to increase ad revenue while slightly decreasing watch time.
The new policy on ad selections will not affect preexisting uploads, which will maintain their current ad settings. But for anything new, YouTube will take control of the ad selection process. Creators who dislike that decision always have the ability to opt out of ads entirely.