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Forward Ad on YouTube — Actually, Backward

This is one of the dumbest YouTube video ads I’ve seen.


If you’re a typical YouTube viewer, when a video ad delays the beginning of the video you want to watch, you wait for the “Skip Ads” option to appear and then get the hell out of the ad.

I’m not attacking YouTube’s employment of skippable in-stream ads.

This one for Forward Healthcare keeps showing up, and each time it does I want to scream.

Those first 5 seconds are crucial.

In a radio spot, the opening line is the commercial for the commercial. It’s your one chance to grab the attention of your targeted listener.

Those first 5 seconds of the video ad are the advertiser’s one chance to prevent — or, at least, delay — the viewer’s clicking on that “Skip Ads” option.

This particular ad devotes 80% of those first 5 seconds to:

“Hey, guys, welcome to Forward.”

Robert Collier famously observed that the key to successful advertising is to enter the conversation the targeted consumers already are having.

How many of YouTube’s 2 billion viewers are thinking, “Golly, I wish I could learn more about Forward”?

Relatively few.

The final 20% of the non-skippable intro consists of:

“We’re a new type of doctor’s office that’s –.”

Number of viewers who are thinking, “I wonder if there are any new types of doctor’s offices”:

Not a lot.

Probably this “new type” of doctor’s office is intended to solve some sort of problem for some group of people.

This ad has 5 seconds to interest that group, either by identifying that problem or getting the keen attention of people who are affected by that problem.

This video ad is just plain embarrassing.

If you create advertising for any medium, be smarter.

How to begin a YouTube video ad

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Raf January 29, 2022, 2:08 am

    Generally, I agree.

    But bear in mind the first 5 seconds in YouTube’s skippable ads are free for the advertiser if skipped by the viewer.

    Some advertisers use these 5 seconds to qualify the prospect and make him or her intentionally skip the ad.

    This doesn’t seem to be the case in the example but due to the free 5-sec policy the advertiser here doesn’t seem to care how the ad begins.

  • Dan O'Day January 29, 2022, 11:20 am

    @Raf: As you point out, smart advertisers use the first 5 seconds to get the targeted viewers to raise their hands while encouraging everyone else to leave — i.e., to skip the ad.

    Actually, advertisers who run skippable ads aren’t charged unless the viewer lets the video run for at least 30 seconds. But YouTube’s dynamic 5-second countdown adds a sense of urgency for the disinterested viewer wants to get rid of the interruption.

    This advertiser uses the first 5 seconds to encourage only viewers who know what Forward is and who care enough to delay their desired activity — watching the video they came there to watch — so they can see what Forward wants to say to them.

    Probably you are correct in suggesting that some advertisers are dumb enough to think, “Well, we won’t have to pay for the people who don’t stay, so it doesn’t matter whether those first 5 seconds attract the attention of the targeted consumer.”

    The technical terms for that type of advertiser, by the way, is “Dumb.”