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The age-old question of whether viewers will pay to skip ads will be put to the test in the online video industry with "SkipIt," a clever new service SpotXchange is launching today. For participating publishers, a SkipIt "chicklet" appears when a video ad starts playing; if the viewer clicks on it, the ad closes and the content continues. Each ad skipped costs the viewer $.10, which is automatically deducted from their pre-funded account. When an ad is skipped, the advertiser receives a credit from the publisher who is paid a percentage of the viewer's fee by SkipIt. (see SkipIt's video at bottom for more)

Initial publishers testing SkipIt include CineSport, Film Annex, IDG TechNetwork, OneScreen, Tech Media Network and Tetris Online. Combined, SkipIt estimates this will represent 20 million video ads presented each day to over 100 million viewers.

Michael Shehan, SpotXchange's CEO, explained a couple of weeks ago when he previewed SkipIt for me that the service is intended to empower viewers with more choice about which ads they watch, reduce wasteful spending by advertisers and deliver a more satisfying experience by the content publisher.

I can see how SkipIt would be compelling for advertisers and publishers. SkipIt's 10 cent charge is equivalent to a $100 CPM, rich enough so the publisher's split will be greater than any CPM they likely receive today (Michael wouldn't disclose it, but I'd assume the split is 75% to the publisher). And advertisers have little to lose; if viewers are willing to pay to avoid their ads, they clearly weren't interested, so SkipIt improves efficiency.

Read the full story here