YouTube is bringing longer unskippable ads to your TV

A shot of the YouTube app icon on the Apple TV 4K home screen
(Image credit: Henry T. Casey / Tom's Guide)

If you regularly watch YouTube on your TV prepare for your experience to get worse as the video-sharing platform has confirmed that 30-second-long unskippable ads are set to arrive on its Smart TV app.

Announced at the recent YouTube Brandcast event, 30-second unskippable ads will replace the current standard of two 15-second ads (that are often skippable) on some top-performing content. However, this doesn’t mean that shorter ads are being entirely removed. They will still be present on select videos as well as content that isn’t deemed to be high-performing. 

Unskippable 30-second ads are not exactly new to YouTube, but they were mostly phased out in 2018. However, they are set to make a comeback and will be available to advertisers via YouTube Select, a platform that sells advertising slots on some of the site's most popular content.  

This move would appear to be part of YouTube’s efforts to squeeze more advertising revenue from users watching videos on their TV as an increasingly larger number of viewers are opting to interact with the site's content this way. 

During the Brandcast presentation, CEO Neal Mohan confirmed that “more and more, viewers are tuning into YouTube on the biggest screen in their home” and that younger viewers generally don’t make a distinction between YouTube content and traditional TV shows and movies found on the best streaming services

Another new ad format is on the way

An example image of a new YouTube ad format on a paused video

(Image credit: YouTube/Adweek)

Clearly, YouTube is hoping to maximize its advertising revenue and also drive more users to sign up for YouTube Premium.

YouTube has also outlined plans to introduce a new form of ad that appears when you pause a video. Adweek has published an example image that shows an ad banner surrounding a paused Hot Ones video. At least this ad can be removed by clicking the “dismiss” button. YouTube has dubbed this “pause experiences” and while it’s a little annoying, it’s not that intrusive as far as online advertising goes. 

Seemingly the only way to avoid these new forms of advertising is to sign up for YouTube Premium, which includes ad-free browsing and watching among its perks. A monthly subscription costs $11.99, or you can sign up for an annual plan and get a discounted rate of $119 for the year. Alongside ad-free access, YouTube Premium also offers the ability to download videos for offline viewing, higher video quality on select content and access to YouTube Music Premium. 

These changes to how YouTube will present ads on TVs come in the wake of an attempt to crack down on ad-blocking software that is currently being tested in select markets. Clearly, YouTube is hoping to maximize its advertising revenue and also drive more users to sign up for YouTube Premium. While these changes aren’t necessarily for the benefit of the user, at least the platform’s highly-intrusive overlay ads were removed earlier this year. 

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Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.