will.i.am: 'No one's really watching YouTube ads'

Johnny Hornby with will.i.am

Johnny Hornby, founder of The&Partnership, with will.i.am at the Cannes Lions panel

YouTube claims to have made a success of its advertising model, which allows users to choose to either skip or watch ads prefixed on to uploaded videos. But Black-Eyed Peas founder, singer and entrepreneur will.i.am argues that's just wishful thinking.

Joining a panel of media and ad industry leaders at Cannes Lions to discuss the future of the creative industries, he urged the advertising industry to think about advertising as "adding value to communities", not "advertising or marketing".

Talking about ads that focus on selling rather than adding value to communities, will.i.am said: "You know people don't like it on YouTube. They skip it."

Google marketing executive Lorraine Twohill snapped back that 87% of people do not skip ads on YouTube. The musician countered: "OK, well they're not paying attention to it. They're skipping it in their head.

The panel was hosted by hosted by The&Partnership and The Wall Street Journal

The panel was hosted by hosted by The&Partnership and The Wall Street Journal

"Regardless of what your metric says, we're not paying attention to it. If you don't add value to people's lives, I don't really give two shits about your advertising," he said.

The star believes that real creative success is measured by creating shareable content that penetrates culture.

"When it's adopted is when it's successful, because that's when you know it's penetrated. The views… the views could be fake views."

So what do you think? Do advertising metrics sometimes lie? Do you actively watch YouTube ads? Let us know in the comments below!

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Tom May

Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books, Tom was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. Today, he is a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and its sister sites Digital Camera World, T3.com and Tech Radar. He also writes for Creative Boom and works on content marketing projects.