Giving Pre-Roll Video A Chance

As online video advertisements become more pervasive, so too does the argument over the merit and viability of pre-roll.  After it's boiled down, there are generally three schools of thought on pre-roll video:  those who believe that it will soon become pre-historic; those who are proponents of pre-roll; and those who are on the proverbial fence, seeing the value while acknowledging its shortcomings. I happen to believe that, while I wouldn't consider it perfect, pre-roll has its place in a complete integrated campaign and is a good beginning for online video outside of the banner.

According to an eMarketer report from November of last year, online video advertising in 2006 was set to increase over 80 percent from the previous year.  As more dollars are poured into online video, marketers and advertisers are seeking out the best ways to maximize that investment to build brand awareness and influence purchasing decisions.  With no clear-cut answer as to which of the current, or yet to be developed, online video ad units will be the most effective, it behooves us not to dismiss any.

The pre-roll ad unit allows traditional advertisers to make use of existing video assets, i.e. TV commercials. Because of this, pre-roll has made it relatively easy for advertisers with existing video to efficiently move these assets online.  While creating video assets specifically for the Web is great, there is nothing wrong with repurposing 15- and 30- second spots originally made for broadcast, especially if they are strong and compelling, or humorous and memorable.  With a professionally produced, nationally televised 30-second commercial costing upwards of $500,000, why not fully leverage that investment?  Additionally, pre-roll typically includes a companion ad that further reinforces a brand, offering advertisers a place to encourage interaction on the part of the consumer.

Pre-roll is oftentimes scorned because of its perceived disruptive nature to consumers who are seeking specific video content.  However, in a survey done by the Online Publishers Association, 62% of consumers said they were accepting of ads up to 30 seconds in length, with an additional 38% accepting of ads of longer lengths.  The study also states that "Consumers are viewing video ads and are taking action, including checking out related links & Web sites as well as purchasing."  With that being said, we should continue to monitor consumer reactions and acceptance levels as the industry continues to refine and develop video content on the Web.  Already we have seen the unofficial standard for pre-roll move to 15 seconds, which demonstrates publishers are listening to consumers.

As we continue to see more advertisers add video to their campaigns, we should not discount pre-roll video as an ad unit.  Much like the 468 banner that has given way to many larger and more creative formats, pre-roll will most likely evolve and be used differently moving forward.  In the meantime, including pre-roll video in an integrated campaign is proving to be effective and worth the consideration.


Editor's Note: The Video Insider you received yesterday was actually meant to be an Online Publishing Insider. To make up for the mistake, today we're sending you a column on the correct subject. MediaPost regrets the error.

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