It’s a summer’s day, the trees blow in the wind and I’m prancing. Ok, wait; it’s 2am, I look like a paedophile, I’m eating Arnotts biscuits with one hand and putting on a pair of weary headphones with the other. I am content, docile as a Hindu cow and therefore, it’s time for my long awaited YouTube session. I’m scrollin’, scrollin’, scrollin’, scrollin’. Woah. A WILD PITBULL APPEARS. Biscuits hit the carpet as some bald guy starts grinding. Yep, it’s some crappy advertisement. Maybe the situation isn’t all that bad? No. It is. 2 seconds of Pitbull? I’m in rage. 5 seconds of Pitbull? I am on the verge of becoming Banksy. The skip button on the advertisement appears, yet I’m left with a bitter taste in my mouth. As Grimes ‘Dream Fortress’ starts soothing me the assault begins to fade. Of course, that is only until the next video. This time its the Golden Valley Quencher. In three different fucking flavours.
Slowly the YouTube ad isn’t just a small pat on the bum, but a full-blown Law & Order SVU episode. Every ad over the next few weeks that forces itself on me comes in conjunction with the profanity that escapes my crude mouth. It’s become standard to comment on your friends link to you with an exaggerated ‘THAT AD RUINED MY LIFE!’, before ever endorsing the video itself. The YouTube ad movement is pushing itself into my psyche and conversation, and it’s making me very volatile, and unlike dealing with it through adaptation (i.e. the Facebook timeline), it’s still just as painful. As ads are not shown on every single video but rather only if the uploader chooses to monetise (which is a majority however), they still hit me like a special little surprise. If only YouTube were a band and we could just call them sellouts – self-consolation in its prime. The YouTube vs suicide complex comes at a time where the musically minded are not only dirt-poor, but also morally inclined. As YouTube is that middle-ground in which we gather around to legally press repeat on a new song for the whole day, its no surprise the YouTube ad is at the forefront of my peeves, perhaps because I can’t directly attack it. Of course, by complaining I will be bombarded with ‘it’s free tv’, or ‘they deserve it’ or, ‘it’s not that bad, you have attention deficit order’. I beg to argue they’re utilising the term ‘free’ in a completely monetary way, but they’re replacing our money with our time, and that’s essentially more annoying in the long run – yet most still consider it a bargain.
At 2 million a day for bandwidth costs, we should be grateful, and I am (in that ‘I take you for granted, and I’ll continue to take you for granted’ kind of way). But those advertisements are paying to be there so we go and consume the product when in reality, we correlate them with ruining our YouTube experience. So, if I’m trying to choose between a Quencher and a Lipton ice tea at a vending machine, the choice is cut out for me. Seeing as we’ve come to this standstill of realising YouTube ads are mood destroyers, yet we’re ungrateful attention deficit retards, what’s your most hated YouTube ad? Consider this a group counselling session as the popular site walks the fine line between monetisation and audience retention, because you’re not alone – you’re the 99%.
Mridula Amin works for the ABC and writes great articles about topics you love to hate. You can read her back catalogue here.