New Ad Formats: Best Thing To Happen To Pre-Roll
The anti- camp points to some studies, and mainly anecdotal evidence, showing that pre-roll just doesn't work. Some data shows that user acceptance of the format is not high, and that abandonment of the ad, video or even the site is growing. Central to this argument are examples of poor execution - like slapping a :15 or :30 ad in front of any news, entertainment or music clip, without regard to length, content type or site. Some have questioned whether the format works at all to drive measurable ROI.
This group usually counters that overlays - be it text, graphic or mouse-over - are the best way to leverage online video. They're non-intrusive, targetable to content, and scalable, and performance-based models are emerging. Some think that this is the best bet for marketers who want to dip a toe into the video space, and it's also a step toward the best way to monetize most video content.
And you know what? In many ways, they're right. The proliferation of new formats is a great thing for the space as a whole, and there is a core subset of advertisers who will find success with these new units. Overlays are cheaper, measurable in every way, and are likely to solve the problem of how to monetize user-generated content and long-tail video content. They are getting us one step closer to making online video a component of every media plan.
Where this group is wrong, however, is blaming pre-roll for all that ails online video, which is still in its infancy in every aspect. Pre-roll gets unjustifiably blamed because it was the first available ad format during a time where user-generated video exploded, and publishers and advertisers alike jumped in with both feet. But it's not dead -- it just needs to be done the right way.
What does that mean? Pre-roll is best utilized against professional content, not UGC. YouTube's got it right on this. Pre-roll is suited for longer clips, not shorter ones -- and make no mistake, we're in a clip-driven world right now. Pre-roll is best used for what Tom Hespos calls "higher incidence" advertisers (i.e., consumer staples or widely appealing products/services) or against contextually relevant or demographically fitting content. And finally, it needs to be frequency capped on the publisher side.
Pre-roll is not dead -- it's growing up!