Davide Casali = Folletto Malefico: Hybrid UX Director = Design × Psychology × Technology / Simplicity × Complexity

A design improvement for YouTube ads

You probably saw already this kind of interaction on YouTube ads. It’s quite simple: after a few seconds in, you can skip the video.

It seems quite effective, given what Bruce Daisley, sales director of YouTube and display at Google, said:

According to YouTube, for standard pre-roll (no choice to skip), users spend 48% of time highly engaged with the ad content.
For skippable pre-rolls (choice to skip) that have been viewed through, users spend 85% of time highly engaged with the ad content, resulting in 75% more engagement when the choice to skip is offered.

This is very relevant, because it tells us a lot how a simple interaction can influence behaviour. My thinking is that to skip an ad you have to recognize it and you have to actively take an action, something that requires a different attentive status.

But what’s the business perspective? Well, if you are a business seeing that your video is “skipped” isn’t a really good metric, also because given the analysis above, it’s better if they skip. What if, then, we could add the same interaction, but in a way that gives the user the power to tell something to the brand, at the same interaction cost – one click?

The idea could be as simple as this:

As you can see, in both cases you are able to skip the video with one click. But with this second interface, you are able to give an actually useful feedback to the business, something that could translate to some nice actions to improve the advertisement, make it better, less intrusive and at the same time more effective.

With no added interaction costs: one click. :)


I like this idea, but the "no added costs" comment is little bit misleading. You've got added costs for your tracking and reporting infrastructure, which is no small consideration when you're operating at YouTube's scale.

Great post.

Davide 'Folletto' Casali:

You're right: I was referring to the functional cost UI side: still one click... but in that way it seems that there are no costs overall. ;)
I edited it. :)


I think it is a good idea...for the user and the customer. I am not so sure it could be the YouTube aim. I explain it better. This kind of interruption is annoying and a lot of people could click often "I dislike this". This could be not so good for youtube, even if it could be a good measurement for the customer. But what could happen when the customer see that many people click on "I dislike this"? The customer could use this media no more.

So, may be, the YouTube users are so many that it is enough to attract the customers even if many people dislike the advertising, but do you think is this strenght enough?

Davide 'Folletto' Casali:

So, do you believe that this could translate for the advertiser in a negative feedback on YouTube as a platform and not on a measurement on the quality of the advertising?

Yes, I believe there's a possibility, because while that's not "logic" to think in that way, it's a bias that could easily be triggered.

What could be done here is:
1. Change the wording. "dislike" or "hate" might be too strong, and so maybe the solution could be just using "I like this, but not again, please skip" and "please skip" without liking. In that way we'll keep the vote, but it's not as strong as before.
2. A/B testing. Even if I think this could be a good idea, I would never roll out a feature like this without first doing A/B testing on smaller pools of users (first) and advertisers (second).

By doing that at the scale of YouTube it's something that might give an answer to that question, at least on the user side, in a couple of week. :)