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Digital advertising is still in its relative infancy, primarily fronted with 40KB ad units that consumers can choose to click or ignore, but rarely engage with. And while we continue to make them more relevant with data-backed buys such as search retargeting, consumers still see plenty of ads that are meaningless to them. The irritation reaches its peak for me with the :15 or :30 pre-roll video ad units - and my frustration is so high that when I ran an agency media team I (rightfully or wrongfully) refused to subject consumers to these pre-rolls that prevented them from getting to their content.

However, consumers' annoyance with advertising is in direct conflict with the content owner's need to generate revenue, and as cost per thousand (CPM) rates have continued to fall for standard ad units, formats like pre-roll have become more and more attractive, and therefore more common (and I have to admit, seem to work quite well for the right media plan).

A new service called SkipIt is now presenting consumers with a choice to bypass these pre-rolls, and is doing so in a way that attempts to balance out the consumers' wants with the needs of the advertisers and publishers. The concept is annoyingly simple, as many of the best ideas are - a consumer lands on a page with video content and a pre-roll video begins to play. A small icon is presented in the top left corner offering the chance to skip and move on to the good stuff immediately. If the individual is a registered user of SkipIt, the process is instant, and if not, the individual is offered the chance to learn more and register.

Currently you earn a single Skip upon registering, and four more for confirming your email address, but after that they currently cost $0.10 each (or the equivalent of $12 an hour). My initial reaction was that it seemed a steep price to pay for 30 seconds of my time, but as I think about the things I happily spend money on to make my life more efficient, it doesn't actually feel so bad.

With so much activity in the U.S. to provide "notice and choice" to consumers through the AboutAds self-regulation movement and the European directives related to cookie usage, it could be expected that SkipIt was developed by a regulatory body on a mission to fight against advertising. In fact, it was actually developed by SpotXchange, a video ad marketplace that makes its living through the pre-rolls it now accepts you don't want to watch.

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