Mid-Roll Interruptions


As a culture, we have accepted advertisements as a part of consuming any content – from music on the radio and television commercials, to user-created streaming video online. If users aren’t paying for premium service like Netflix, Spotify or YouTube Red, small interruptions are expected.

Typically, and thankfully, we get to enjoy the content in it’s whole before being interrupted by ad spots.

Mid-roll advertisements have become a recent trend in streaming video on social media. Meaning, at an algorithmically perfect point of engagement, you are abruptly smacked with an unskippable ad.

Of course, the response is negative. The user is likely to keep scrolling or click entirely out of the video. But, this isn’t anything new. Remember television? Anyone can recognize the screen fade away from their show and into a few ads, then back into their experience.

The difference in mid-roll streaming content is, first, we are not at all accustomed to having steaming content interrupted by anything other than a bad wifi connection. Secondly, the content we are consuming has not been specifically created to account for seemingly random ad placement. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, the ad we are seeing could have zero relation to the content we are consuming.

Common sense tells us the last way to gain loyalty and convert consumers is to force and frustrate your audience. Even aside from the user experience a brand delivers, there is also the assumption a user will still be just as engaged with the content by the time the mid-roll ad finishes. The ad likely will cause the viewer to abandon the video entirely.

Mid-roll ads make sense in the strategy to capture the audience when they are most attentive. But, at the risk of harming content creators, the users’ experience and potentially vilifying the brand that’s intention was to get their message heard, it’s better to stick to the YouTube format of playing an ad before the chosen content plays.