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YouTube says to think of its new unskippable ads as “little haikus”

By Amy X. Wang

YouTube is venturing into dangerous territory today (April 27) with the introduction of new pre-video ads that can’t be skipped.

The six-second “bumper ads” will start showing up on mobile devices next month. While they’re shorter than YouTube’s regular-length ads, they won’t come with the option to be dismissed after a few seconds, meaning they’ll likely be watched much more.

In a blog post, YouTube’s owner Google describes these ads as a “quick and fun” feature catering to younger viewers; it also suggests that the half of 18- to 49-year-olds who primarily use phones and tablets to watch videos is somewhat of an untapped market for new forms of advertising.

Think of them as “little haikus of video ads,” Google video advertisements product manager Zach Lupei advises. The company promises the new ads, which have been tested on music videos, will be creative and engaging. Still, YouTube viewers anxious to get to the actual videos they want to watch might feel a bit less than zen.

No matter how you try to spin it, unskippable ads are never truly welcome. Just look at the panic that seized the world when it seemed Netflix was moving in that direction.