Video giant YouTube is still struggling to turn its impressive popularity into revenue for its parent company Google, and a new shift in advertising options may just get YouTube viewers to help the site figure out those profitability issues.
Part of YouTube's problem stems from its content and figuring out what kind of advertising makes sense paired with user generated videos. But starting today, the video giant is enlisting viewers to say what ads should go where.
YouTube is beginning to let users choose what ads they will see paired with individual videos. The switch will serve the same purpose of asking viewers to rate advertising content, and could go a long way toward figuring out what kind of advertising works on the site.
According to the YouTube Biz Blog:
"On a small percentage of videos to which we serve in-stream ads (pre-, mid-, and post-rolls), users will have the choice of watching either one Promoted Video at the outset or a few in-stream ads throughout. Users who choose the Promoted Video option will also get to decide which video to watch."
Having the option to choose between ad options is a slightly better user experience than being randomly being served whatever ad YouTube sees fit, and the site can then use the results it gets from users to optimize its advertising options for brands.
Given the fact that there is no option without advertising, the results will be skewed, but not nearly as much as on other sites that rate ads — like Facebook or Digg — where the users that comment on ads are a self-selecting audience.
Users are increasingly accustomed to dealing with advertising when it comes to online video, but making those ads as relevant and useful as possible is a big priority for video purveyors.
This particular move by YouTube will be limited by the kinds of offerings that the site provides and what it does with the information it garners from users, but getting users to vote on advertising with their eyeballs is a good start.