Carla Marshall is the Head of Content Marketing at vidIQ. She has 10+ years of experience in video marketing, social media management, content marketing, DRM, and SEO. She was previously Editor in Chief at ReelSEO.com, and as a journalist and video marketer, she's covered news stories, creator journeys, and digital-first publishing initiatives across all the major online video platforms. She is YouTube Certified and a judge for the Shorty Awards, as well as the UK, US, Canadian, Global, and EU Search Awards.
YouTube Updates Mid-Roll Ad Rules to Benefit Creators
If you are a part of the YouTube Partner Program and have the ability to monetize your video content, you may already know that the threshold for inserting mid-roll ads into videos is now 8 minutes rather than 10 minutes.
So, instead of uploading 4 videos a month at 10 minutes long, could you publish 5 videos at 8 minutes long and still earn the same mid-roll ad revenue? To answer this incredibly hypothetical question; __possibly. __
This change is retroactive, meaning that any videos you previously published to your channel (that are between 8 and 10 minutes long) are now eligible for mid-rolls. Oh, and YouTube has automatically turned them on for you unless you opted out before the change. For more information, take a look at our video regarding this significant update ⬇️
YouTube Mid-Roll Ads and Your YouTube Audience
Now, this all seems like great news, right? YouTube can earn more revenue from adverts, and creators can place more adverts on videos to generate advertising revenue. Also, advertisers can pick and choose from more videos in a bid to reach their intended target audience.
But what about the YouTube audience?
On the one side, we have creators, and on the other side, we have viewers, and what connects these two is the distribution platform known as YouTube
The moment you as a creator, put an advert in your video, you are creating an obstacle, a potential barrier to the value that the viewer is going to get from your content. But at the same time, you as a creator, want to be able to generate revenue, because can't always make YouTube videos for free.
So, on the one hand, you've got to build your community, and on the other hand, you need to build your YouTube business. It’s a fine balance, but there are ways you can achieve it.
We spoke to a professional YouTube channel manager, Tom Martin, about best practices around mid-roll ads, especially know YouTube has updated this feature. Check out Tom’s Pro Channel Manager Podcast for more industry insights.
vidIQ: Tom, the move to allow mid-roll ad inserts to videos of 8 minutes and over is new. What should creators know about the change?
Tom Martin: Before the feature went live on the 27th of July, YouTube sent out an email to creators that give them the option to opt-out of the auto insertion of ads across their channel.
At first, I was under the impression that it would only apply to qualified videos uploaded after that date. But from what I've heard from other creators, it applies to all videos that can benefit from monetization. That means that unless creators chose to opt-out before the 27th of July, mid-rolls have automatically been injected.
Now, that’s great for many creators in the YouTube Partner Program, because they don’t have to really lift a finger to benefit from the change. But I know others aren’t happy with the placement of ads in their 8+ minute videos and are having to manually update each video. And in some cases, we are talking of hundreds, if not thousands of videos.
I believe there used to be a way to bulk edit ad placements, but I don't think that works anymore, because I could no longer find that option.
vidIQ: Does it really matter where a mid-roll ad is placed on a qualifying video?
Tom Martin: It does to a lot of creators, yes. In fact, many channels choose not to enable mid-rolls at all as they find them too disruptive to their viewers. Yoga videos for example, or music videos where a mid-roll ad would seem really out of place.
As it’s an automated process, YouTube can’t necessarily choose the very best placement for the ad, in the same way a human would. That's why I don't automatically use YouTube’s suggested ad breaks. Instead, I place every one of my midroll ads manually, and I always have done.
vidIQ: Can you change the position of a mid-roll ad after YouTube has inserted it?
Tom Martin: Yes, although it is a manual process. But I do it manually anyway because I think it's a better experience for the audience. Otherwise, there’s the risk that the ad could cut off the presenter mid-sentence, or something equally as jarring.
I believe you can also set up the feature so all future videos don't automatically insert a mid-roll ad on qualifying uploads. It's just that all of your old videos will now have been updated, so you’ll need to go back and turn those off if you want to.
vidIQ: Do you think this is a positive move from YouTube?
Tom Martin: I think, overall, it's really good for creators because it will stop people padding out their videos with extra content just to get past that 10-minute threshold. It must have unlocked millions and millions of videos that are between 8 and 10 minutes, which is definitely more revenue in creators' pockets.
YouTube attracts a lot of criticism regarding a perceived lack of communication about changes, but I actually think this was communicated well. It’s up to all creators or channel management teams to read their emails from YouTube and take the action they need to, so they don’t need to go back in and fix things.
It also makes perfect sense from YouTube's point of view. Obviously, they have lost revenue with a lot of the ‘Adpocalypse’ type events that have happened over the last few years, and with COVID-19, a lot of companies also reduced their ad budget in regard to the platform. With CPMs down, this is probably an attempt to try and get ahead of the curve for increasing revenues.
Think how much more money they will make by automatically turning these mid-rolls on rather than just sitting there letting people realize it’s an option then opting in. It's probably going to generate many, many more millions in the long run for YouTube.
How to Manage YouTube Mid-Roll Ads and Placements
A simple question for the YouTube viewer is, how many adverts do you think you are willing to go through in an eight-minute video? Our guess would be, at most, two. Also, it's really important to provide the viewer with some real value before you insert any adverts.
So, you're probably looking at your first mid-roll at maybe three or four minutes, and then another one in the five to six minute range.
Now, of course, you can leave all of this to YouTube to automatically insert the mid-roll ads, but if you are really strategic, you can place them exactly where you want to in your videos. This is how to do that:
- Click into your YouTube Studio
- Click on the ‘Monetization’ link in the left-hand menu
- Once the mid-roll chat box is ticked, click on the ‘Manage Mid-Rolls’ link
- A new dashboard will open that allows you to place or move mid-roll ads on your video
For the best viewer experience, place them strategically at points where you've created tension in the storytelling, or you've just revealed or about to reveal something integral to why the viewer clicked on the video in the first place.
Also, if you have pre-roll ads enable before your video even starts, don’t insert a mid-roll soon after. But also, don’t leave the ads until towards the end of the video. If half of your audience abandons your video in the first couple of minutes, because of poor audience retention, then they're never going to see those mid-roll ads and you're not going to earn the revenue from them. YouTube itself has some great advice about the placement of mid-roll ads:
How to Manage Mid-Roll Ad Breaks for Multiple Videos
If you want to turn mid-roll ad breaks on or off for multiple videos, just follow these steps:
- Sign in to your YouTube Studio
- From the left-hand menu, select ‘Videos’
- Choose your selected videos
- Then select ‘Ad Settings’ from the ‘Edit’ menu
- Toggle ‘Turn on ads during video’ to turn mid-roll ad breaks on or off
- Now select ‘Update Videos’ and follow the steps displayed to confirm this change
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