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YouTube wants you to start shopping directly from its pre-roll ads

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Will it click with real people?

YouTube, which has 1 billion monthly users and zero profits, will attempt to boost revenue by letting you shop from its pre-roll advertisements. This assumes that you actually watch pre-roll advertisements, rather than spend an agonizing 5 seconds looking anywhere but the screen while you wait for the "Skip this ad" button to appear, and actually want to buy the things you see in YouTube ads, which mostly you do not. We clicked over to YouTube just now and got a pre-roll ad for a Sea-Doo water scooter, which is not the sort of thing we would impulse-buy from a pre-roll ad running in front of a playthrough video for Bloodborne, though that's just us.

Google announced the new ad format today at the Ad:Tech SF meeting, and expounded on it in an accompanying blog post. "Whether it’s watching a product review or learning how to bake a soufflé, we look to video in countless moments throughout the day to help us get things done," Google said. "We call these micro-moments — when we reflexively turn to our devices to learn more, make a decision, or purchase a product." Shoppable pre-roll ads, YouTube says, will let users "connect the dots" between the moment they watch and the moment they make a purchase.

I guess? Google tried to make videos shoppable in 2012, and it went nowhere. But in a case study, shoppable ads created an 80 percent lift in "brand consideration" for Sephora. Anyway, these ads exist now and will be taking up more of the micro-moments in your life. You may now reflexively turn to your device.