People hate losing control (of videos) because they don’t expect to lose control

Yes, of course people hate those ugly video pre-rolls that appear before video content on YouTube or other video publisher sites. Video pre-rolls are totally annoying – almost as annoying as page takeovers that completely interrupt / destroy the user experience, because we have no control over them.

Let’s consider the context of an interruptive 30 second pre-roll.  We’ve sat through highly interruptive videos in the form of traditional TVCs for years, and despite benefit of using those times to run off and put the kettle on or using ad breaks as a toilet break, they’ve not been particularly good or bad. We don’t get too annoyed by TVCs.

So why are single video pre-rolls so f*cking annoying? Because we are interrupted in an environment where otherwise, we have complete control. Whilst in the digital space, we control our preferences, our options, our screen sizes, our content – everything is customisable, everything is under our command. One of the most attractive elements of technology and social media is the customisation of it – the purity of delivery and our ablity to mold it to our will completely.

We’re annoyed because they’re ultimately sh*t and they cannot be controlled in an otherwise totally controllable environment. Most of the time we spend on them, we spend looking or the little small “x” to close the video. (That some publishers / media companies claim this as a “click” is another story – and similarly annoying).

Control is something that we do not get from TV, that we’ve never had, therefore our expectations are lower, as are our frustrations when we are interrupted with ads. Even when we fast forward through TV recordings, we recognise the trade off between being able to time-shift and the delay in which we’ve been able to consume it – we’ve customised it.

We trust more when we control more. It’s why trust in technology companies is higher than most other companies – in dealing with technology companies and products, we assume that eager nerds have delivered pure products that we can control, interact with and pour our lives into. When this changes, we recoil in horror.

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  • Roman

    Totally agree, if I ever come across them I usually just leave without waiting for my video.