Pre-roll video ads are not a new thing. But they consistently perform, and (surprisingly) best other forms of video marketing. Let’s take a look at five reasons why they should be a part of your marketing arsenal.

Studies have shown for a long time now that video should play a big part in your marketing strategy. But here’s a question: what form should my video take? From traditional ads to social content, there are so many avenues to potentially pursue.

A pre-roll advertisement is a piece of video marketing that automatically plays directly before the video content that the user wants to watch. The ads are usually between 5 and 60 seconds long – and they perform well. Here’s why…


1. 5 seconds of awesome

First thing’s first – 94% of people skip pre-roll ads after the first 5 seconds. I know what you’re thinking – if 94% of people skip them, surely they can’t be effective? Duh.

Well… there are a number of strategies brands use to persuade the viewer to keep watching beyond those first 5 seconds (I won’t go into that here). What’s key to pre-roll advertising is those first 5 seconds. Because you can do a helluva lot in that time. Just Google best pre-roll ads’ and you’ll discover some great case studies of very creative and impactful examples of the medium.

The first 5 seconds can be extremely powerful – increasing brand awareness, showcasing a solution to a problem, selling an offer, inciting action etc – so it actually doesn’t really matter if the audience watches beyond that. Sure, it’s better if they do, but if it's only 6%, who cares? In those 5 seconds you could already have delivered your most cut-through message. A well-crafted 5 second ad will always engage the audience you want to talk to.


2. Less interruptive

Video ads attached to content can be in the form of pre-rolls (before the video content), mid-roll (during the video content) and outstream (headers or mid-text). A comprehensive YuMe study showed that pre-roll ads are 3.5x less likely to be considered interruptive by audiences.

Why is this important? Well, there’s a reason why 94% of ads are skipped. People don’t like them because they’re in the way of what they want to watch. Interruptive ads are considered even worse – because they come in mid-stream, rudely interrupting your viewing pleasure. With a pre-roll, there is a more acceptance of the ad’s necessity – you can have 5 seconds of my time and then I can watch what I want to. If you were at the cinema, you’d hate for ads to be in the middle of the movie wouldn’t you? That’s why you have 25 minutes of them before it where you eat all the popcorn you’ve just bought. Quid pro quo.



3. More engaging

The YuMe study showed a surprising result: pre-roll ads were more engaging than social content.  The two are close, especially in unaided ad recall (65% pre roll vs 54% social), but it’s clear pre-roll ads are better at cut-through.

Given the nature and content of social videos, customers seem to have different expectations of it – the platform obviously has its place and is extremely effective in its own context and perhaps for long-term brand building. But for pure brute-force impact, pre-roll ads still trump.


4. Highest value exchange

This relates to point number 2: customers are much more comfortable watching a pre-roll ad to be able to access online content for free, than they are having to see it at any other point.

If they’re more willing to accept it, the higher your engagement will be. Why choose a mid-roll ad when you know it would annoy your customers more?


5. Highly targeted

When creating your pre-roll ad (especially on YouTube) you can really get into the finer details of crafting who your target audience is. And we’re not just talking age and gender, but a huge list of interests that your target customers could be into. It’s another granular level to help your ads really hit their mark.


Bottom line

Pre-roll video advertising has been the gold standard for a while now and looks like it is still holding strong as online platforms continue to evolve. If you haven’t thought about pre-roll marketing as part of your video strategy, now’s the time to change that.


Picture of Alex Allston, Senior Copywriter at The Sharp Agency

Alex Allston

Senior Copywriter