The experience of watching YouTube has been infiltrated by ads over the years as a means of maintaining the platform and supporting creators financially. Now, though, it really seems YouTube is pushing the boundaries with ads, showing as many as 10 unskippable ads during a single break.

Update: In a statement to 9to5Google, YouTube has provided more context around this increase in ads. See below for more.

Ad breaks on YouTube videos typically appear before a video begins as well as during that video if the creator allows it. Generally, these breaks can last as little as a few seconds or go as long as a few minutes, but longer ads usually come with the option to skip that ad after a set period.

Over the past month or two, some YouTube viewers have noted that advertisements on the platform have been expanding greatly in length and quantity, especially in unskippable formats.

Multiple threads on Reddit bring out that ad breaks in longer videos are happening as frequently as every few minutes. Just as rough, if not worse, is the uptick in reports of users who are seeing far more unskippable ads during YouTube ad breaks. Threads on Reddit, as well as more recent tweets, showcase ad breaks with as many as 10 ads in a row that can’t be skipped.

This doesn’t appear to be happening with all videos or even all viewers, but these longer breaks appear to be more and more common lately. More frequent than seeing 10 ads is seeing users with around five ads per break.

The good news? These ads aren’t super long. From what we’ve been able to see from user reports, these ads are largely only five or six seconds each, meaning that even an ad break with 10 unskippable ads would only be around 60 seconds.

YouTube hasn’t acknowledged any purposeful uptick in ads on the platform, but the “TeamYouTube” Twitter account did reply to one user’s complaint, saying that these are considered “bumper ads,” a format that appears at the start of videos and shows a few of these very brief ads.

Update 9/16: A YouTube spokesperson has confirmed to 9to5Google that these expanded “ad pods” that showed an expanded number of ads was a part of a “small experiment” that has since “concluded.”

At YouTube, we’re focused on helping brands connect with audiences around the world, and we’re always testing new ways to surface ads that enhance the viewer experience. We ran a small experiment globally that served multiple ads in an ad pod when viewers watched longer videos on connected TVs. The goal is to build a better experience for viewers by reducing ad breaks. We have concluded this small experiment.

The company further explained that ad pods were originally introduced in 2018, albeit in smaller numbers, in an effort to show the needed number of ads without interrupting the longer videos as much. YouTube reiterates that a user experience continues to be a top priority, and that reducing ad breaks is a part of that goal.

Still, this seems to represent a considerable increase in the number of advertisers that viewers end up seeing during ad breaks, and that’s obviously no fun for anyone. Are you seeing more ads on YouTube lately? Has it pushed you to pay for Premium or limit your use of the platform altogether? Let’s discuss in the comments!

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Ben Schoon

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