by Martin MacGregor (@MartMacG) Interruption is a very unfashionable concept in advertising these days; the shift to engagement is all the rage. But YouTube has been flighting unskippable ads in the middle of content and, strangely enough, I don’t mind so much.

I’m always fascinated in large meetings, watching how the various personalities look for ways to get their point across. Some say very little, and wait carefully for the right moment. Others push and blurt at every possible moment. Ultimately, consensus is reached and usually everyone has a chance to have their say. Styles might differ but communication happens.

Different ways

In the world where it’s “all about engagement”, brands have forgotten that, dependent on message, there are lots of different ways to have their say. The quest for carefully crafting the right message for the right time and place often leads to a very measured approach. It might all be very relevant, but is it making an impact?

Being interrupted may feel jarring. It can be shocking and annoying and stir emotions. But isn’t that exactly the right time to get a memorable message across?

YouTube’s initial strategy of ads at the beginning of content with the 5s skip option has been a failure (it would never admit it). It never understood the difference between sitting on a couch, waiting for a TV programme to start, and clicking on a link, expecting to watch immediately. Advertising at the former moment is mildly irritating. At the latter, it’s massively annoying.

More natural

Once the content has started, there’s an immediate relaxation and YouTube viewership becomes very similar to that of TV. An ad breaking that viewing moment feels a lot more natural and I’ve found myself not trying to move it on manually.

Consuming social media often leads to ending up a place that’s very different to where the initial intent started. This because is a Twitter, Instagram or Facebook feed throws up content pieces that interrupt and take you on a journey to all kinds of interesting people and opinions. This behaviour is often looked at negatively but interruption is a fact of modern media consumption. It’s not perceived nearly as badly as what most brands think, either.

Yes, the content needs to be engaging, but the media tactic is very much about interruption. Don’t be scared. Go forth and interrupt!


Martin MacGregorMartin MacGregor (@MartMacG) is managing director of Connect, an M&C Saatchi Company, with offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Martin has spent 18 years in the industry, and has previously worked at Ogilvy and was MD of MEC Nota Bene in Cape Town. He contributes the monthly “Media Redefined” column, in which he challenges norms in the media space, to

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