Consumers want to buy, but not be sold!

We’ve all been there. You search YouTube and come across a video that catches your attention. You look at the duration of the video and think, Hey I’ve got 20 minutes, so you get comfortable, brace yourself to be engaged with the contents of the video, perhaps grab your binge watch essentials.

All seems well right? Until 15-20 seconds into the video when you are unexpectedly “disrupted” by an ad that has nothing to do with the content of what you were watching. Diverting your Selective Attention away from the original video. And you think “Sigh.. I’ll just skip this ad” You look at the timeline of the video and realize that ads are continuously placed in the video and eventually you are going to have to skip the ads again. If you are lucky the content creator disabled ads in-video, to leave your viewing experience uninterrupted.

Now, sometime in the future you peruse YouTube again and come across another video that catches your attention. So you hit full screen and brace yourself. Lo and behold the same ad that disrupted your experience previously is now before you. Now you think “Gosh I don’t like this ad”

This moment is very important to take note. A negative experience is being recorded and collectively stored in your subconscious mind ( hippocampus, amygdala, cingulate gyrus, the thalamus & hypothalamus, the epithalamus etc.) A bad memory is being recorded.

Let’s look a few examples and break this down further

Case Study 1 – DIY WEBSITE
A fairly well known DIY website template developer, creates and executes a cleverly produced ad to promote their web templates.

Identifiers have been blurred out to protect the brand

Brand – Name Withheld
Product – Website Template
Duration – 1 Minute 14 Seconds
Campaign – Create your professional website

The video ad is basically someone talking about how easy it is to set up and develop a website.
The ad is not short of its merits. It has great composition, a good script and excellent lighting. In short, This is a nice ad.
The ad is pushed on YouTube. So you will most probably see this ad at the beginning of the video you intended to watch.


Over 1.8mn views
141 Likes and 99 Dislikes
Like to Dislike Ratio 1.4 : 1
While the ad does have more likes than dislikes. The like to dislike ratio of 1.42 : 1 is practically a coin flip.


Based on the comments there seems to be a lot of frustration, anger and possibly resentment towards the product, brand and the protagonist. I’m sure this was not the intention of the brand but the truth is in the data.

Let’s have a look at another ad, that uses a disruption technique, product placement, a protagonist and good production.

Brand – Old Spice
Product – Old Spice Scented Body Wash
Duration – 30 Seconds and a shorter 15second companion
Campaign – The Man your Man Could smell like
Agency – Weiden + Kennedy


Over 56 million views
Over 209k Likes and 4.9k Dislikes
Like to Dislike Ratio 42 : 1


Quite a difference. While one could argue that the brand has more leverage. It is important to understand why this ad had such a positive response in the market.
This ad was a viral hit!

So what did the Website Developer company do wrong?
Answer – They OVERSOLD
This could have been an oversight in ad targeting. There is a big market out there for Website development. In the US alone there are around 100,000 Google and Youtube searches per month for “How to create a website”.

The web developer ad has gained 1.8mn views in less than 6 months, averaging 300,000 views a month. While I’m sure some would still buy product, Overselling damages the brand on the long run.


When you look forward to watching a video on youtube there is a Viewer Experience Expectancy (VEE).
VEE Can be primarily categorized into
Entertainment – Sports, Comedy, Drama, Gaming, Food, Music, Travel, Science and Tech
Information – News, Politics, Tutorials
Infotainment – Podcasts
When you have an idea of what kind of video you want to see. Anticipation and Dopamine is built up in the brain. If the contents of the video are congruent of the VEE. The Amygdala triggers positive emotions to attach to the experience.
Essentially the amygdala along with the limbic system responds with “This was a good video because it delivered on my expectancy, Remember this moment”.
Consequentially a memory is created with a positive experience.
Conversely, When the content of a video is inconsistent with the VEE, The Amygdala fires negative emotions (Frustration, Anger and Resentment etc) saying “This video did not deliver on my expectancy, Remember this moment as something to avoid”

The term is informally described as being “click bait”

The website developer ad has strong product endorsement. The viewer may feel as if they are being sold a product not congruent with the VEE.
The ad, the protagonists, the voice of the protagonists and sadly the brand itself gets negatively positioned in the mind of the viewer. As all this visual and auditory stimuli gets attached to the negative experience.

This is a tragedy because all attempts made to provide a product or service available to the marketplace is lost due to the product or service being oversold.

Meanwhile, the sheer hilarity of the old spice ad is consistent with VEE for entertainment value. Also, The protagonist in the ad never takes his eyes off the camera. Thus you are constantly engaged.

The ad was such a viral hit that it enabled Old Spice to develop an entire series of ads with high entertainment value.

Within 3 months of the Old Spice campaigns first appearance the volume of Old Spice body wash shot up 40%.
Net sales of Old Spice increased from $77,567 in 2010 to $83,680 in 2012

The ad received a Prime time Emmy Award for Outstanding Commercial and a Clio Award for Television, with a myriad of ad awards. Propelling the 80 year old brand into the hearts and minds of the modern consumer.

Recently platforms like Youtube are seeing a decline in ad revenue due to products and services possibly being oversold. Viewers are opting out of ads, decreasing ad revenues to the platform. At the same time platforms are urging content creators to include product endorsements or sponsors into the script of the video so that the user experience is not disrupted.

Googles Alphabet stock dropped 8% in April 2019 due to decelerating advertising sales growth. The biggest drop since 2012.
The following shows the quarterly ad revenue over the last 3 years

Source : Alphabet

Alphabets CFO Ruth Porat partly blamed click growth on YouTube for the slowdown. Stating that

“While YouTube clicks continued to grow at a substantial pace in the first quarter, the rate of YouTube click growth decelerated versus what was a strong Q1 last year, reflecting changes we made in early 2018, which we believe are overall additive to the user and advertiser experience

Although it is important to bear in mind that these market fluctuations are temporary. Platforms like YouTube aren’t going south anytime soon. The platform relentlessly upgrades the algorithms and user experience to increase retention and growth of the channels. While viewership is constantly on the rise.
But the damages done to products, services and brands may be irreparable due to lack of insight.

Brands and marketing agencies will benefit from paying close attention to the user experience and insights to add more value to the VEE, and look for clever i.e Non deceitful ways to tell their stories.

These are some of the symptoms you might would want to look out for if your product, service or brand is oversold
– Low engagement and engagement rates on product ads and product endorsement posts
– Low like to dislike ratio on video ads
– High Cost Per Acquisitions
– Low Click Through Rates
– Low sales growth on social media etc

As the need to constantly push awareness on product/service/brands increase. The platforms become saturated. It is imperative that agencies work closely with market sentiments to understand VEE in consumer expectancy to create engaging content and avoid being oversold.


Happy to share that the DIY website brand had launched a follow up ad with the same protagonist. The ad is very short 7 (seconds) and the protagonist says “If you want to develop your own website go to ….com” that’s it.

This is much more effective as the benefit is offered within the first 3 seconds of the video. And more importantly not disrupting the viewer experience expectancy too much.

The ad does have a Like to dislike ratio of 1.85 : 1 due to the high recollection of the protagonist but still a worthy attempt to salvage this valuable service.

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