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YouTube to remove overlay banner ads in April

Officials at YouTube say they will make a significant change next month that will improve the overall experience for streamers.

Starting in April, YouTube will drop support for overlay advertisements, a format that showed an interactive, commercial banner across the lower-third of a YouTube video when played on computers.

In a help post on the YouTube website, a spokesperson for the service called the advertisements “disruptive for viewers” and noted that they only play when a viewer engages with a YouTube video through a web browser on a desktop or laptop computer.

The overlay ads aren’t shown when viewers stream YouTube videos through phones, tablets or smart TV devices, though other forms of advertising are still present.

The overlay ad format will be officially retired on April 6, after which it will no longer be available as a revenue-generating option for producers who share their videos through YouTube.

The announcement comes as YouTube faces significant pressure from other video sharing platforms, including TikTok and Meta’s Instagram, which have chipped away at YouTube’s audience share and advertising revenue.

Dropping support for overlay ads is one way YouTube is hoping to make the video platform more competitive, particularly among those who watch videos on desktop and laptop computers.

But it could impact marketers who rely on overlay ads to bring attention to their products or services without breaking the bank. It could also make it difficult for small businesses and services to target YouTube viewers without having a sizable advertising budget.

Those marketers and small businesses could ultimately decide to shift their ad dollars to other platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, which offer the ability to run interactive, targeted advertisements for little money upfront.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).