A new YouTube experiment will occasionally play 15-second “media literacy” ads before videos to “prompt critical thinking.”

YouTube has updated their support page listing many of the various experiments the video provider is currently trying, adding details about a new “media literacy” experiment. For those selected for the experiment — which is currently limited to US viewers of select videos — YouTube will play a short 15-second video offering useful tips on how to know what information to trust online, in place of an advertisement. Like many YouTube ads, this promo will be skippable.

So far, Google has only shared one specific video from their media literacy campaign, in which the viewer is encouraged to check the source of a piece of information, then make a decision about whether you trust that source — specifically if they are an “authority on the topic” — before choosing to trust the information itself.


For now, YouTube’s media literacy ads will only be shown ahead of “a random sample” of videos, and Google has specifically stated that these ads appearing before a particular video is “not a judgment” of the channel or the video itself. Depending on how the early experiment goes, YouTube will consider the possibility of expanding the program further.

Testing ways to help people assess information online:  We’re experimenting with ways to prompt critical thinking when consuming information online. This small experiment will feature media literacy tips in the form of 15 second skippable ads that will show up before a video (it will look like this). Note: these tips will show up before a random sample of videos in the U.S. and are not a judgement on any videos. We’ll consider rolling this effort out more broadly based on experiment feedback.

Considering these new media literacy videos are called “skippable ads,” it seems likely that these public service announcement style videos will not be seen by those with a YouTube Premium subscription.

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Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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