Will YouTube’s new “Bumper ads” be effective?

Bobby Tarnapoll
Media Theory and Criticism 2017
2 min readMar 3, 2017


I would classify myself as being addicted to YouTube. I can watch video after video until I realize it is 3am. Combining this with my fascination with advertising, is where it gets unusual. I am one of the few that pays attention to the ads prior to videos, not just for their content but also to learn. I like to think of why a certain company made the ad and why they decided to show it on the channel I am watching.

I first noticed shorter ads when a Google Maps campaign was launched called “Know What’s Nearby”. A six second ad with extremely loud music and moving graphics caught my attention. My first thought was “what in the world was that!?” Then, I thought about how this was going to change the advertising industry and if it would really work.

YouTube released the option to display six second, unskippable ads before videos back in December of 2016. This is new territory that users have yet to witness.

Google, the creator of YouTube, made these ads available to target those primarily using mobile devices that are watching a video for quick information or to share with friends.

“We built Bumpers with these shorter sessions in mind. They are perfect for the moments when people are in a hurry or on the go.” -Think with Google

Bumper ads drive upper-funnel goals like ad recall and awareness for large companies that have the budget to pair them with longer, more informational advertisments.

“We tested over 300 Bumper campaigns this year and found that 9 out of 10 drove a significant lift in ad recall.” -Think with Google

Despite the knowledge that bumper ads are proven to increase overall ad recall in their market audience, the real question at hand is if the advertisements work in persuading this audience. I can say that I definitely remember the Google ad, but have I went out of my way to use Google Maps in the why the are pushing? No.

Only time will tell if these ads will become a staple. I am most interested to see if they cross over to different forms of media. Can you imagine a six second ad screaming at viewers during the Super Bowl?

Take a look at the Old Spice commercial below. It fits in the scheme of all of their other ads with the voice of Terry Crews. Crews tell the viewers arm pits to stop crying like a baby while a graphic of Old Spice deodorant suppresses an armpit sweating like a shower head.

The commercial grabs the viewers’ attention but lacks any call to action. It is easy to see that the success of this commercial relies on consumers to recall the ad next time they are in the hygiene aisle.

The new advertisement format is too young to be deemed a success. With the new option out there, agencies will soon be put to the test to add the bumper ads to campaigns in the most effective ways.