And while each has a different standard for autoplay, this shift signals a clear, collective change in how consumers approach and consider online content. The Internet is no longer treated as digital newspaper or periodical. Instead, it’s the new television, making video more important, and increasing the necessity for advertising options beyond click-to-play pre-roll video ads, including this broader adoption of autoplay. And with these new options, advertisers will have to adapt their video strategies.
“Traditional” User-Initiated Pre-Roll
If online video is akin to linear TV, then pre- and mid-roll video ads that come alongside premium content are essentially commercial breaks. These ads are a means to an end, playing before or in-between content that a consumer wants to view, practically guaranteeing some level of viewability and engagement. That’s extremely valuable for an advertiser already paying higher CPMs for this type of premium video inventory.
In this execution, advertisers can simply repurpose 15- and 30-second TV spots and efficiently extend their TV buys online. If consumers think of the Internet the same way they think of TV, then these ads create an analogous experience for the viewers — and the advertisers. When targeted correctly, advertisers win because these ads reach the right audience and deliver a complete message.
The New Normal:
Fortunately for advertisers, targeting isn’t confined strictly to traditional pre-roll advertising – it’s widely available when delivering autoplay messages too, creating more opportunities to reach consumers with video.
Yet many platforms deliver video ads that start automatically but have the sound muted. Muting the sound presumably preserves a protected and positive consumer experience, a net positive for publishers and platforms. But this changes how advertisers should execute and measure these campaigns.
Repurposing TV spots isn’t as effective without sound, so advertisers often need to develop new creative with this in mind. The first few seconds of the video ad become critical to the overall engagement and impact.
Luckily the platforms are addressing some concerns with different methods for billing advertisers. If viewers scroll right past the video, then the advertiser may not be charged. As the market matures, platforms may continue to match pricing with engagement and value to the advertiser.
The best way for advertisers to maximize their return on ad investment is to carefully consider the many factors that drive campaign effectiveness, including creative content, sound, viewability, page environment, and proper audience targeting.
Autoplay video is a desirable option for many advertisers, one that is now a significant part of the broader video ad market. Advertisers should embrace new placements and video ad formats, but they must understand that not all video advertising opportunities are created equal. Even offline, there’s a big difference between a TV spot and an out-of-home video billboard.
While consumers may treat the Internet more like TV, the truth is that advertisers will still need to adapt campaign planning and execution for a wider range of digital video placements and formats. When they take that step, they’ll find that all formats of video, including autoplay video ads, will become an important part of their digital marketing mix.