Tl;Dr: What's the most fundamentally UX friendly equivalent to a pre-roll video advertisement which doesnt involve an actual advertisement - only a motive to pay to remove the inconvenience?
My UX question will require knowledge first of the app model, so I'll explain it briefly, and I apologize for the length of the detail but it's not the simplest question to ask. I suspect from the above question alone, people would ask for infinite elaboration, so I'll provide it below::
I'm about to launch an app, similar to a few others out there, that allows you to stream videos together as a group in sync, while exchanging voice chat. Youtube, Vimeo, any service that supports embedding. A synchronized video experience. The model is supposed to be free, supported by pre-roll video ads.
The catch is that my app also allows people to stream video content stored locally on their devices. Home videos, videos taken on their phones, cameras, etc, can be watched as part of this synchronized video sharing experience. But, although it wont be permitted according to our terms of service, people will be able to stream movies they download from the web, perhaps illegally.
That's just an unavoidable implication of allowing people to stream local content to each-other. And so, understandably, no advertisement agency that I've spoken with can permit their ads to be used in association with this application, as there's the possibility that it unfortunately may gain a reputation for being used in association with copyright infringement - watching pirated content together.
So to support a free model, I'm interested in creating, in concept, the equivalent of advertising (a brief inconvenience for the user, which the user trades as payment for the service), which inclines the user to buy a premium membership to skip this brief inconvenience for him/her and his/her party/group watching the video together.
My question is: Is there a known method of using some inherent inconvenience to the user (other than advertising) which allows them to use the service for free, but still motivates them to potentially purchase a premium plan to remove said inconvenience?
I ask because it seems like this might give me an opportunity to use the inability to advertise as an advantage to my UX experience. Instead of having to serve the user a whole video ad that they may or may not be interested in, I can instead utilize the most fundamental equivalent to this UX interruption without time requirements or specific content being displayed. In other words, I can engineer the inconvenience to be much less damaging toward the UX than the advertisement would have been, theoretically.
I imagine this strategy might already be used in clever ways, but the closest version I can think of is the method of using "energy" in mobile apps to slow down your progress without payment - that's not what I'm looking for.
You could add a countdown timer - i've seen it on some websites, or a captcha, or do something else annoying like reduce video quality.
However, these just discourage people from using your app (as do ads), and your number one problem will be getting people to use it, not making it uncomfortable enough for them to pay for an upgrade.
Your question is asking how to make a bad User Experience - the antithesis of this site, and that will harm your chances of success.
Users should pay for something better, not to remove something worse. Your competition can just offer the same experience without your unnecessary pain.
In software, what you are describing is generally know as a 'nag screen' - a popup or interstitial screen that the user has to dismiss in order to use the content.
The only warning I would add is that you will be walking a fine line between encouraging your users to purchase the full content and annoying them to the point where they abandon the product.
This is not so intrusive but just as annoying!
After asking this, receiving information about this concept, and brainstorming, I'd like to mention a solution that I'm strongly considering for this problem:
A hybrid of the "nag-screen". Rather than throw a pop-up to annoy the user, or a timer to delay the user, I think the best approach is, as a gateway to the service (in my case, playing a video in sync) display useful information (in my case, a neat, simple dynamic list of videos trending on Youtube, Vimeo, etc, which can be clicked in order to be added to the queue) along with a call to subscribe in order to move, not remove, this useful information to a less intrusive area in the interface.
In my opinion, this is the best way to emulate a small delay for the user taking the place of advertisement as an incentive for the user to pay for a premium experience. This option circumvents problems with certain strategies while achieving the same goal:
A timer, where the user is given useful information to observe rather than being left bored
A nag-screen, where the user is given useful information rather than being blatantly asked to subscribe with a screen that is clearly there only to annoy you, and might even require a click to dismiss.