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Youtube ads are Broken

I never liked ads. About 5% of them are funny, interesting, or in any other way worth watching, but the rest is fluff you have to endure so you can watch whatever it is you really want to watch. In the era of broadcast TV, like 15 years ago, that seemed like a fair deal: stations have to make a profit, yadda yadda yadda. When an ad was especially good I'd remember it and walk away with a positive feeling towards the brand. When it sucked, as it usually did, I didn't mind.

But that was broadcast TV, and now we're in the age of on-demand internet content. And Youtube ads. And in this age, for the first time, some ads offend me by their very existence. I'll search for, say, a Sarah Bettens song, and find it among the first results, and I'm all excited and amazed at this awesome interconnected world that brings wonderful music to my ears, a single click and I can listen to the song — oh, wait, no, actually there's an ad for Gilette I need to get through first.

I understand the reasoning. Disk storage and bandwith aren't free, of course, and if I – the consumer – am not paying for them then somebody else has to. So, ads.

Except that they don't work. One minute ago I had neutral-to-positive feelings towards Gilette. Like all non-Unix-guru males I discovered shaving as I went through puberty, had to choose a razor brand and chose Gilette for no good reason. (Most decisions one makes as a teenager are ill-informed.) For 15 years I wasn't convinced that Gilette was superior to Wilkinson or store brands, but it was what I was using and I couldn't be bothered to rethink that original decision. Having committed to the brand ages ago, I was content to buy new blades every week without thinking too much about it.

Until now. Just this minute, Gilette has stopped being a benevolent partner in my personal hygiene and became the faceless corporation standing between me and a song I love. It is now the enemy. Whether Gilette shaves closer than Wilkinson I still have no idea, but for the first time in 15 years, thanks to a campaign that Gilette paid for, I now have an active interest in doing the comparison.

Google paid 1.65 Billions for youtube thinking it was the future of television, and maybe they were right. But what's obvious is that TV advertising can't transfer easily to Youtube advertising.