16 Jun 2010

Pre-Roll Ads Are Re-Purposed TV, Except No One Watches Them

Blog, Online Advertising, Online Video 12 Comments


The most dominant form of online video advertising is still a nuisance to a large portion of consumers, according to a study* from analytics firm TubeMogul.

Right now pre-rolls are largely dominated by marketers attempting to monetize old TV creative, which exists in abundance, and which can be repurposed for online ads with relative ease. To consumers this is nothing more than the next generation of pop-up ads.

Just how bad is it, you ask?

Nearly 16% of viewers click away from a pre-roll video ad rather than watch it through to get their video content. In sites where interruptive advertising isn’t the norm, such as news and magazine sites, the statistic is almost 25%.

If asking someone to watch an irrelevant 30 second pre-roll ad is too high a price for free content, what are publishers to do?

For an industry that trends toward a more targeted future, the internet provides promising answers. But how do we get from here to there when the technological solution we need is perpetually “just around the corner?”

Here are three ways to make pre-rolls easier to stomach.


1) Use shorter pre-rolls. A :10 or :15 pre-roll (with visible countdown timer) will turn off fewer viewers at the onset, allowing advertisers to run longer ads deeper in the content. Once the “hook” is set, viewers are less likely to disregard their investment and stop watching.

2) Better targeting with keywords. News and magazine stories pertain to different industries. Tag those stories with industry-relevant keywords. Standardize those keywords. If you’re a news or magazine website with monetized video content, play pre-rolls that are relevant to the subject matter of your videos based on keyword data.

Eg: If I choose to watch a video on the BP oil spill, which has a clear element of environmentalism tied to it, am I more likely interested in a Toyota Prius or a Ford pickup? Am I more in a frame of mind to see an ad for a non-profit or the NBA playoffs?

Publishers don’t need to provide answers. They just need to supply the data points. Marketers will find the best way to connect the dots.

3) Run internet ads, not stale TV ads. There’s a certain delivery structure to a :30 tv commercial that speaks to the frame of mind one is in when he’s watching TV. With TV, you’ve made the investment to put your butt in your chair at the appropriate time, so your probability of leaving at the first annoyance is low.

Not so online. It’s like being in the universe’s largest candy store — that oh-by-the-way happens to be completely FREE. If the first bite of any candy bar isn’t great, how long before you toss it and grab the next?

In other words, stop advertising by interruption. Tell us one thing, try and make it new and exciting. And show us, in seconds, how much longer we have to listen before we get what we want. Then hit us with longer ads after we’ve invested in the substance of what we’re watching.

But not before.

* The study sample was gathered over 48 hours and included nearly 1.8 million impressions. Networks involved include but are not limited to Tremor, BBE, Google and AdTech. It included high-quality short-form content on the top TV, news and magazine sites online.

12 Responses to “Pre-Roll Ads Are Re-Purposed TV, Except No One Watches Them”

  1. patrik philippe says:

    Good job! Such a topical post. I agree with most of what you say, and I’ll be returning to this website again soon.

  2. Melanie Mignone says:

    Hey, thanks…I’ve been looking for news like that for a long time. Really interesting. Thank you!

  3. Jean Rousseau says:

    Hello. What enticed you to post this article? I found your post interesting, particularly since I was searching for opinion on this matter last Saturday. In your opinion, what’s holding larger agencies and their clients back from taking this approach to online video advertising?

  4. Ray More says:

    Super site! Nice blog. Thanks for your hard work.

  5. Jeremy says:

    Jean, clients aren’t holding their agencies back. It’s the other way around.

    Agencies still believe they can take a client’s money and shoot a :30 second spot for TV, then repurpose it into two :15s for Hulu. Fact is, each spot needs its own script, and those scripts need to be tailored to the medium in which they air.

    If your media plan calls for a :30 and two :15s, SHOOT a :30 and two :15s.

  6. Nintendo Lover says:

    Howdy, thank you for writing on this topic.

  7. Mark Wikens says:

    I certainly agree with you. I have a hunch these points will likely guide lot of people in your industry … those who aren’t already aware how to make pre-roll ads more efficient, that is. Thanks for the post.

  8. Michael Martenez says:

    Thanks for the great post!

  9. Mark Scotts says:

    Nice great info here, i will post it on facebook 😀

  10. Anonymous says:

    How long has this blog been going for??? good stuff :.

  11. John Hayward says:

    Interesting blog. Thanks a lot!

  12. Mark Goodwin says:

    I totally agree with your point and appreciate your writing style. Solid work and best of luck with your business endeavors! Cheerio!

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