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No one wants to watch ads

If you've ever found yourself impatiently tapping the "Skip Ad" button on YouTube or zoning out during a commercial break, you're embodying the title of this article. 

No matter how many millions are poured into producing that Acura ad, we are inclined to skip it if it interrupts our favorite YouTuber. Even if a commercial is of GEICO quality – a brand known for its entertaining commercials – it doesn't change the underlying reality: most of the time, we'd rather not watch it.

However, does this mean the art of creating ads is futile? Not at all. There's a workaround. By understanding that 99.9% of viewers don't want to see advertisements, brands can craft more effective strategies. 

Firstly, make your ads as compelling as possible, but know that audiences might not be eager to see them even then. 

Secondly, and crucially, invest in getting them seen. Creating a quality ad isn't enough; it must be strategically placed before the right eyes.

A common pitfall is the mistake of brands creating an ad and placing it on platforms like YouTube but failing to invest in ensuring it gets seen. 

Simply relying on audiences to search for and watch your ad isn't viable. Because who actively searches for "Acura ad" on YouTube?

Here comes the revolutionary approach  – The Spectrum of Ads. On one end, you have the purest form of advertisement, an unabashed celebration of the product. 

Conversely, there's content that doesn't feel like an ad until perhaps the very end, where a brand logo might appear. 

The latter is content-driven marketing – content that doesn't overtly sell anything but carries subtle brand messaging.

Take our Matomo ad "Googleheimer" as an example. It's primarily a comedy sketch, but at the end, there's a brief mention of Matomo. 

Such content is more palatable to viewers because it offers entertainment first and marketing second.

If brands can't invest heavily in ad placements, they should move from the pure ad end of the spectrum towards content. 

This way, they deliver value, entertainment, or information before softly nudging towards their product. Think of it as an altruistic approach to marketing – give the audience what they want (content) and subtly introduce what you want (brand recognition).

In today's digital age, where viewers have the power to skip, mute, or scroll past advertisements, brands need to adapt. No one might want to watch ads, but they'll always be open to consuming compelling content. 

So, advertisers, the challenge is simple: Don't just make ads. Make content people want to watch.


Well, hello, everybody. Welcome back to Death to the Corporate Video. It's me, Guy Bauer, founder, creator, director of Umault, and this is our first show back. By our, I mean me alone in my room, in my office downstairs. Hope has a great new position leading a digital agency, so we're super happy for her. We talk every now and then, and we've gotten so many nice notes from y'all. Honestly, it's been great knowing that we've built a little audience. So I appreciate you listening to this show.

So this is our first show back, so it's just going to be me. We're going to go back to every two weeks, and we'll start it from here, just a basic, basic, just me talking to you, and then I don't know, we'll see if we have guests or do other stuff. I'd love for you to tell me what you'd like to hear. My email is guy, G-U-Y, @umault.com, U-M-A-U-L-T.com. Yeah. We'll just start with me yakking, and then take it from there. I don't know. Maybe we'll do a show intro. Maybe you can make us a show intro, so taking it back to just the dawn of audio. So this is it. There's no intro. There's no... you put the insightful smart thing first, then you do the show intro. We're not going to unpack anything. I already got back from vacation a month ago, so there's no unpacking, but I do have something I want to talk about. So, basically, yeah, it will be every two weeks, I turn the thing on, and talk to you.

So I want to talk about how nobody wants to watch ads, and you're like, "Wait, Guy. You own a B2B video ad agency." Yeah, but that doesn't change the fact that nobody wants to watch ads. Let me explain. So when you're watching football or you're watching your favorite YouTuber, mine these days is MoistCr1TiKaL, the best Acura commercial that ever has been made, like it's an Acura commercial that they spent $2 million on, and it has Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and it's got another famous person that I can't think of anything like the Billy on the Street sketchers like, "Name a famous person. Name a woman," and she can't name a woman. I can't name any other famous people than Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson right now.

So it's an Acura commercial. They launched Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson into space in an Acura. It's got the best VFX. It's shot on the best camera. It is funny. It is one of the best ads to ever be made, but yet if you're watching MoistCr1TiKaL talk about some YouTuber meltdown, you're going to hit "Skip Ad" after five seconds. If your team is down 24 to 21 with under a minute in the fourth quarter with no timeouts, and they just threw to commercial... They would never do that. But anyway, the Acura commercial is on. You're not caring about the Acura commercial. You want to watch your team. Maybe you'll come back and win.

Nobody wants the best... From the worst ads, think of a bad, loud mattress commercial like, "Do you need a mattress? Mattress. We sell mattresses. Mattress." Yell the phone number at you 10 times. From that on the low end to the best Acura commercial, 99.9% of the time... There are exceptions, and I will point that out, but 99.9% of the time, you don't want to watch them. There's the 0.1% of the time where there are commercials you want to watch. GEICO seems to be really good at that. Every now and then, there's a commercial that truly is next level where... like, "Oh, I love this commercial." Yeah. Usually, it's GEICO. I'm trying to think of another brand that I've ever said, "Ooh, I really love that commercial."

So I'm talking from people, people that don't make ads, people that are not marketers, and they don't make ads. Let's just call them civilians. Civilians, the people that we're trying to target with our ads don't want to watch our ads. People don't want to watch ads 99.9% of the time. That includes me, and I love making ads. But when I'm in Cincinnati Bengals football watching mode, I could care less about the best commercial. I could care less how great of an ad this thing is. When I'm watching my MoistCr1TiKaL videos, I do not care about... I want to get rid of the ads as soon as possible.

Okay. So I think I made myself clear. Okay. So why do we make ads? Well, we make ads. We have to make ads with the knowledge that no one wants to watch them, so there's a few things we can do. One is make them as good as possible, but keep in mind, even if we make them as good as possible, still, nobody wants to watch them. So the second thing you need to do is pay to get them seen. Because no one wants to watch them, you have to pay to put them in front of people's faces, and that's the only way people will watch them if you pay to get there.

So this is a big mistake a lot of our clients make is we make a great ad. Okay? I'm going to loop around because we're a B2B video ad agency, but ad is like an all... It's more of a positioning statement. There's a big spectrum of clinical content under the umbrella of ad. I'll swing back around and address this. So a big mistake a lot of our clients and prospective clients make is we make a great ad, it's funny or it's good and cinematic, or at least it has a marketing message, and it's an ad. But then, they plop it on YouTube and don't put money behind getting it seen.

This is a huge, huge pitfall, and the older I get, the more I do this. The more I'm like, "Oh my gosh." We stress everyone... because it's fun to make ads, right? Our clients, us, we get all... We love wordsmithing the script, and showing it to people, and all that stuff. But then, we don't sponsor it, and we don't put any energy into getting it seen after the fact. We're relying on people to want to watch our ad, but who goes into YouTube and types in "Acura ad?"

Now, the only people who do do that are in the business, but I'm talking about civilians. I'm talking about people that we're trying to target to advertise to. If you're in the business of making ads, yeah, then you will look at ads and stuff like that, but nobody is searching out for ads, and that's a huge pitfall. So no one wants to watch ads. So what do we do about it? A, make it as good as possible. Try to get into the sphere of GEICO. B, pay to get them seen.

Okay. What else did I want to talk about? So going along with this theme of no one wants to watch ads, I want to talk about the other side of ads, like how I said it's a spectrum. So let's just imagine a spectrum from the left to the right or from zero to 100, 100 being an ad, a pure ad that's like, "Blah, blah, blah, Jones Cola, whatever, is great. Blah, blah, blah. Our thing is so great. Our thing is so great. Go to blahblahblah.com to learn more about our thing." Right? Like an ad that has a logo and people saying how great the thing is.

Fundamentally, that's an ad in my book. That's on the right-hand side. That's 100% ad. But then, there's a spectrum, and this is a hack. This is a hack. This is a tips and hacks. There's a spectrum of ads. On the left-hand side is something I can consider... It's still in the bucket of ad, but it's a little sneaky. What it is it's content and not an ad. It is an ad. Truly, it is an ad in that it has a logo at the end, but other than that, it's a thing. It's a video that doesn't seek to convince anyone of anything. It is just truly content like when I watch... I'm really into Fargo right now. I know I'm really late to the party, but when I watch... I've finished season one, which was fantastic. Now, I'm on season two.

When I watch season two of Fargo, the content, the meat of Fargo is not to convince me to start drinking a certain brand of flavored water. It's pure content. At no point do they hop out of the show and start marketing to me. It's only content. It's only a story. That's what I'm talking about. Now, the only twist of what makes it an ad is at the end of this piece of content, there is a logo or there's a line. So one of these spots is... if you go on our portfolio site, and this is over the past summer. I mean, I haven't talked to you in six months. We were super busy, busy, busy, busy, especially without Hope. So that's why I didn't have time to do anything else other than make ads is we were down a Hope. You always need a Hope. You always need Hope.

Anyway, one of the funnest times of the past six months was we made a spot for this brand called Matomo. They're a Google Analytics alternative when we made this ad called Googleheimer. Basically, it's a parody of the Oppenheimer trailer, but instead of Oppenheimer making an atomic bomb, this character Googleheimer is blowing up universal analytics and building GA4. My favorite line of the whole thing is, "I am become GA4, destroyer of analytics." I crack myself up.

Anywho, watch that spot because when you watch it, at no point other than at the end, at the very end, someone says, "Oh, I better get Matomo," and there's a logo. But other than that, the whole thing is just a sketch. It's a sketch comedy thing. If there was no logo, and it was just a logo for, I don't know, B2B humor website or something, that's totally plausible. It would be completely reasonable, and that's where if you... So it's a spectrum. So if you don't want to spend money to get your ad seen, if you don't want to spend... and it's got to be serious amounts of money. Think, I don't know, minimum $3K a month.

Just our ad budget at Umault for our ad spend is, I believe, over $3,000 a month right now at this point. If not, even more, and we're just a small agency. So if you don't have budget to sponsor your video, your ad to get it seen, you cannot make an ad that says, "Think of..." Go back to the spectrum on the right-hand side, the 100%. "Boy, is our product great? It is so great. It is better than the other things. Here's a little bit how it works. Go to blahblahblah.com for more info." That's, to me, how I define an ad in my head, in my caveman brain. It's just like, "Boy, is our thing great? It is." I mean, that's the fundamental thing of every... That's the underlying message of every ad.

Okay. So if you don't have budget to spend to get your ad seen, you cannot make a 100% ad, "Boy, our thing is so great. Isn't it great?" You have to go to the left-hand side and dial it from 100% ad to 0% ad, or in Matomo's case, the Googleheimer spot, it's 5% ad. Maybe it's even 10%, but you have to be on the other side of the spectrum. You have to offer content that does not advertise. You have to be altruistic. You have to minimize the amount. You can't put your logo up the entire time. You have to minimize your brand presence because that's how you'll get someone to want to watch it if you're not going to pay to get them to watch it.

Remember the fundamental law. No one wants to watch ads. How do you get them to watch your ad? Then, don't make an ad, and that's where I'm getting at, 5%, 10%. You have to serve. You have to be altruistic. You have to make content, and then at the very end, you get to put your logo or have someone say, "Boy, is our thing really great?" In which case, if you look at Googleheimer, if you look at that spot, I mean, that's basically what she says at the end.

So there's the spectrum. No one wants to watch an ad. You have to... That's a law. That's like Newton's sixth law. His sixth law is no one wants to watch an ad. It's a law. It's a law of the universe, but it's empowering. You shouldn't be sad. Again, there's exceptions. There's GEICO. There's a few ads out there where I would love to see the Eminem, Imported From Detroit, ad again, but that's also content because they never go, "Boy, is Dodge so great or Chrysler? Boy, is Chrysler great?" besides at the end, and then he's driving a Chrysler. If you don't know what I'm talking about, look up "Eminem Imported From Detroit." That thing, to me, is... That's like a short film or something. That's like a rallying cry. I love that spot.

There are exceptions, but fundamental law, no one wants to watch an ad. How do you overcome this? A, make your ad as good as possible. B, pay for it if it is an ad. If you don't want to pay for your ad to be seen, then you have to make content. You have to have 5% to 10% ad, and you have to put that logo at the very end. You only get to do your "Boy, is our thing so great?" at the very end after you've proven to the market that you're serving.

All right. Now, a lot of people are going to say, "But Guy, what are you talking about? There are so many great ads. How could it be that nobody wants to watch these? This. I don't understand. Our company spent a million dollars on an ad or half a million dollars, whatever it is, on an ad. It's beautiful. It's gorgeous." Remember, think Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in an Acura's thing. Yes, that ad is great, but when you are judging an ad, you're putting on the... You're in the paradigm of being in the advertising industry. You're putting on your advertiser hat.

When my advertiser hat is on, when my creative director hat is on, yeah, I can judge ads based on how funny it is or how smart it is, how clever, how beautiful, whatever. Right? I'm able to see the spectrum, but you have to take your advertiser's hat off and put on your civilian hat. When you put on your civilian hat, it becomes very... That's where the law comes into play because an ad is an ad is an ad. A mattress ad and an Acura ad are fundamentally ads because their main message... even though the Acura ad is done with way better taste, but the main message is, "Boy our thing is so great? It is really, really great." So don't get fooled.

Every time you start thinking that you're really happy with the ad you've made... Yes, and it could be a very good ad. In the spectrum of ads, you may have a 90 percentile ad, but that doesn't mean people are going to want to watch your ad, unless they're your family and friends, and this is where there's cognitive dissonance because a lot of clients will be like, "I don't get it. Everybody I show it to loves it, but then no one is watching it online." I'm like, "Yeah, because they're not your family and friends. They don't want to watch an ad." That doesn't mean it's a failure of the ad. That is just a fundamental law. No one wants to watch ads. You have to pay to get them to be seen.

All right. So I hope you learned something. I hope this wasn't too rambly, and I tend to repeat myself a lot. I apologize for that. I'm really not going to edit these episodes because I'm... I don't know. Tired? No. I'm just too busy. So these are just going to be pretty darn raw. I'll trim the beginning and end in QuickTime, and that's it, so I'd love to... If you have any suggestions, or want me to talk about something, or answer questions, or add a theme song, or do interviews, whatever suggestions you have, I'll take them. Guy, G-U-Y, @umault.com, U-M-A-U-L-T.com. I hope you have a great two weeks. I'll see you in two weeks.





Picture of Guy bauer, founder of umault

Guy has been making commercial videos for over 20 years and is the author of “Death to the Corporate Video: A Modern Approach that Works.” He started the agency in 2010 after a decade of working in TV, film and radio. He’s been losing hair and gaining weight ever since.

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