YouTube, the Google-owned video site, is testing a new format on desktop that will double the number of skippable pre-roll and mid-roll ads that are served to viewers.

While at first sight that might appear to be a recipe for annoying users with more ads, Google has designed the feature so that one ad follows immediately after the other.

That means viewers are less likely to find their video interrupted with commercial breaks, leading YouTube to assert that its research has found fewer interruptions leads to better metrics.

“Users really like them,” Debbie Weinstein, VP of YouTube and video global solutions, told Ad Age. “They prefer to be interrupted fewer times.”

Known as “ad pods”, the format can be run before a video or in the middle of it and the ads come in a few versions, such as a skippable ad followed by a six-second ad whereby the second ad won’t run if the viewer skips the first ad after five seconds.

Viewers also will receive a prompt to dismiss the ad pods during a video and they can continue to opt for the older breaks format if they wish. There is also always the option of subscribing to an ad-free service, which costs $10 per month.

“There’s no reason for YouTube not to test the ad product to see how users respond to the more upfront ads,” said Mark Sytsma, associate director of paid social at Huge, a New York-based digital marketing agency.

“If it doesn’t diminish user experience, Google will sustain the product and advertisers will buy the space,” he added.

Initially, the new ad pods experience will be introduced on desktops, partly because of the growth of viewing on bigger screens, before being rolled out to mobile and connected TV devices next year.

“Why does this solution make sense? Because when users see two ads in a break, they’re less likely to be interrupted by ads later,” said Khushbu Rathi, Google’s product manager of video ads, in a blog post.

“In fact, those users will experience up to 40% fewer interruptions by ads in the session,” she added. “Early experiment results also show an 8-11% increase in unique reach and a 5-10% increase in frequency for advertisers, with no impact to Brand Lift metrics.”

Sourced from Advertising Age, Google; additional content by WARC staff