Sunday, June 2, 2013

Today's Rage - YouTube and Ads

Today's rage is about advertisements and YouTube, where I waste an hour writing about wasting thirty seconds every once in a while.

I have an interesting relationship with advertisements. On the one hand, they're a great way for a person or company I like to generate money without me actually have to pay them. On the other hand, they're incredibly annoying when done improperly.

The Internet's methods are, thankfully, very different from those of television. While it used to be full of epilepsy-inducing millionth visitor banner ads and obvious scams, modern wonders such as Adblock and Common Sense on the websites' part have led to a much better place, where those who hate all advertisements can cheerfully block all of them, those who don't mind them don't have to deal with seizures every other web page, and those who fall between, like me, can white list any websites that they trust or want to support.

Today, advertising on the Internet is a multi-million dollar industry, one that Google has pursued full steam ahead with user friendly and accessible advertising programs like Adsense. Companies pay Google for advertising space, and people get paid by Google for letting them host advertisements on their web pages. It's a nice little set up they have going.

After YouTube was bought by Google, Google was quick to implement a variety of changes, the most prominent of which was the ability for just about anyone who doesn't post copyrighted videos or music to get paid for advertisements they allow on their videos. It's a win for everyone: Google easily makes hundreds of millions of dollars off of this program, and individual users earn a modest income from their own channels. Some become popular enough to quit their day jobs and pursue their love of making fun, informative, or entertaining videos.

Well. It's a win for mostly everyone. There are a few things that have risen out of the whole process that have become increasingly rage inducing for me. Things, such as...

1) Long, unskippable advertisements at the start of a video.

Whatever you do, if you have a YouTube channel and plan to monetize it, do not allow long, unskippable advertisements. It's stupid, it makes people hate you, and it guarantees that I will not subscribe to your channel or watch any more of your videos. Especially after sitting through a 30-second commercial to watch your stupid, not-funny 30 second video.

It's not so much that I hate 30-second advertisements. I hate watching 30-second advertisements when I don't know you. I'll get to that later when I talk about Adblock.

I'm a dabbling YouTuber myself, but at I have the common sense to not frustrate the four people who've watched my videos by making them sit through an excessively long advertisement they can't even choose to skip. Money's nice, but it's not something I do for the money. What's more important is that I show some respect to the people that decide to spend the time watching my video. If they respect me back by watching those advertisements, more power to them.

I won't choose for them, though. Show some respect to your audience. Let them choose how to spend their time.

Since I mentioned those stupid, not-funny videos...

2) Not-funny, cash grab videos.

I'm alright with people making good videos. I'm alright with people making bad videos. A YouTube without diversity is a sad place.

What irks me are the people that consistently make videos with a bare minimum of editing, effort, or creativity. They're just blatant, unfunny copies of the hundreds of good videos on YouTube. They got their brand new copy of Gary's Mod, made some Team Fortress 2 characters regurgitate their taunts with incredibly warped expressions, threw in some predictable slapstick, a sex joke, and called it a day. The result is a video that might make a five year old laugh, but otherwise should never have made it past the recycle bin.

This is just salt in the wound after sitting through your unskippable advertisement. After forcing me to mute my speakers and stare indignantly off to the side until toothpaste lady stops yammering about unrealistically white teeth, I have to stare in wonder at a video bad enough to inspire me to write my first blog post. You've now wasted more than a whole minute of my life. I have productive things to do, like watch videos that aren't full of your prepubescent opinion of "comedy" and penis jokes.

I may not be worthy of the word 'funny' in my videos either, but at least I try to make them informative about whatever game I'm playing, and I don't make inappropriate jokes unless they're really, really funny.

Everything is only worsened by the fact that...

3) Google circumvents Adblock all the time (To no avail)

Several times this past year, Google has made a few subtle changes that prevent Adblock from blocking video ads, and they've recently pulled another one off. (At the time of this writing, about two hours after I noticed it, Adblock has fixed it so it works again. Figures.) So now I not only lack the option of blocking those 30-second, unskippable videos, I have to sit through 30-second unskippable videos to watch your stupid 30-second piece of junk.

I'm cool if someone wants to use Adblock while watching one of my videos or chilling on a website I own. As Google seems unable to comprehend, I can't stop you. While I'd prefer you to help a man out, I understand why you block any and all ads. I used to do it too, and life was good.

After a while, though, I gained some perspective on things. I realized that I'm using a service for free, and costing folks money for doing it. When I visit a website twelve times a day to see if a new article has come up, I'm costing them every time I visit it. It's not much, but there's a cost. As someone who's getting to the point where I'm the one that has the website (Or video, as it may be), it'd be downright hypocritical to go on doing that and put up advertisements.

I now have a set of rules for when I white list your site on Adblock. Basically, if I visit it enough and you do what you can to avoid obnoxious ads, you're golden. When I turn off my Adblock, it's a sign that I trust you and that I want to support what you're doing. Sure, a lot of websites don't earn based solely off of views, but if something catches my eye, I won't be shy about clicking it to check it out. If I've trusted you this far, hopefully I can trust the ads on your site, too.

YouTube is a whole different monster, since it has video advertisements. I don't always block on YouTube: AdSense is actually pretty good about not allowing flashy, breast filled online RPG ads, and video advertisements on YouTube can generally be skipped after five seconds. Sometimes I'll end up watching an entire advertisement if it catches my interest in those five seconds, so it's a pretty smart move on their part.

But when I come across a 30 second, unskippable commercial when I'm watching one of your videos or the first time? I stop the ad, enable Adblock, and refresh the page so I don't have to sit through that crap. You'll get my 30 seconds if you've shown your content is worth my time. However, if you'd given me a regular "Skip after five seconds" ad, I'm perfectly okay with that. I'm even alright with watching unskippable ads on channels that I frequent.

So you can understand why I'm a little peeved that Google, despite how desperately pointless it is, keeps trying to stop Adblock from blocking those ads. I have no clue what Google has to do on their end, but all Adblock programs have to do is update a single line of code and bam! Your ad won't show up any more, and you look like the spoiled kid jumping around in a tantrum because someone didn't want to waste time where it didn't want to be wasted.

I think if Google were smart about it, they'd have it so you didn't get those long, unskippable ads until you've watched a certain channel's videos a few times. That way I can swing in, check whether or not your channel appeals to me, browse through your videos if I'm so inclined, and, if I watch enough of your videos, then I'll start getting those unskippable ads. That means I don't have to disable ads for the entire page in order to see whether or not I want to give you that time, because by the time I've watched the fifth video on your channel, you've obviously earned my time.

Until Google and other Youtubers bend to my will, though, I'm guessing this is the way it's always going to be. Luckily for me, that means I'll have plenty to write about over the next few years.

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