YouTube Is Finally Getting Rid Of Its Annoying Overlay Ads Format

If you have been using YouTube long enough, chances are you are aware that YouTube primarily generates revenue through advertising. As of 2023, the most commonly-used YouTube ad formats include TrueView ads (the skippable ads that appear before/after/during a video), non-skippable ads, six-second-long bumper ads, and display ads. 

The company, over the years, has adopted various methods to get these ads to consumers, and has an excellent understanding of what works on the platform. For the same reason, the company has phased out formats that did not give them the desired results.

Among the most notable retired ad formats on YouTube include InVideo Ads, TrueView In-Search ads, and TrueView In-Display ads — all discontinued in 2018. With a large chunk of the YouTube audience moving to mobile devices, the company has also had to optimize various ad formats for the smaller display. Unfortunately, one ad format that seems to have escaped these optimization efforts is the overlay ads format — the ads that appear as semi-transparent banners over a portion of a video during playback.

Having been around since 2008, overlay ads are among the company's oldest ad formats and were phased out from mobile devices. Interestingly, YouTube continues to use the format on desktop machines. Overlay ads have received widespread criticism for being overly intrusive, with some people even blaming them for obscuring essential details of the video, including subtitles. 

However, on March 7, 2023, nearly 15 years after overlay ads were first introduced, YouTube confirmed that it is phasing out the overlay ads format.

YouTube admits overlay ads disruptive for users

In an entry made on an official YouTube Help page, a community manager at Google confirmed that the overlay ads on YouTube will be retired effective April 6, 2023. The post describes overlay ads as a legacy ad format that was only being served on select desktop users while adding that they are disruptive for users. 

Given that most creators have already moved on from using overlay ads on their channels, the decision to retire overlay ads is not expected to have a significant impact on them. In addition to displaying overlay ads, the ad format will no longer appear as an option within YouTube Studio, the company confirmed in the blog entry.

With YouTube decreasing its dependence on overlay ads for a long time now, and the company finding better, less annoying ways to reach consumers, there was always a chance of the format being phased out. Creators still using the overlay ads format need not do anything in view of these impending changes. However, it would be a good idea for them to revisit their ad settings on YouTube Studio to optimize and enhance their earning potential.