Maybe Pre-Roll Ads Work for Online Video

Last Updated Aug 19, 2008 10:16 AM EDT

A very interesting read from the Epicenter blog over at Wired News today, looking at a study of clickthrough rates on the four standard advertising methods for online advertising, and finding that at least for young men, pre-roll is king:
Today, Break Media, an entertainment community for men, and Panache, a video advertising delivery-platform, released a study showing high rates of success with video ads since the standards went into effect.

Over an 11-week period, the study tested the success of the four standard formats for in-stream video advertising established by the Interactive Advertising Bureau: pre-roll, interactive pre-roll, non-overlay ads and overlay ads. Tracking advertisements for three large corporations -- Honda, T-Mobile, and truTV -- the study found that viewers had a high tolerance for pre-roll and overlay ads.

All of the four formats had high click through rates. Completion rates for 15-second pre-roll ads were 87 percent, and 77 percent viewed videos with overlay ads for at least 15 seconds.

All of these formats were recently standardized by the Internet Advertising Bureau, but pre-roll has always seemed to be least glamorous of the four -- useful, perhaps, but not what most forward thinking video ad networks such as VideoEgg were moving into.

But is pre-roll really that bad? From Comedy Central's digital reinvention of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, to Hulu dragging an incredible amount of content online in an incredibly short period, its obvious consumers are willing to watch some shilling if it means the content they want follows and they don't have to hunt and peck around YouTube for it. Also, a great many of the moans about pre-roll may come from those least inclined to be susceptible to it: early-adopter techno savants whose patience and time runs thin. Attitudes towards having to sit through a pre-roll could be very different between a group of giggling dudes in a dorm room and a Silicon Valley blogger on their sixth cup of coffee.

More to the point, perhaps, is the recent ClickZ article pointing out that when the going gets tough, advertisers revert to true-blue pre-roll ads. Talking to BrightRoll CEO Tod Sacerdoti, ClickZ's Fred Aun notes:

Sacerdoti is now bragging these days about a client that's spending a million dollars on a pre-roll buy executed over one month on more than 30 branded sites. Catch is, BrightRoll declines to identify the advertiser.
"Due to the highly competitive nature of the online advertising industry, the client has requested anonymity," explained BrightRoll in announcing the deal.

The vendor said the campaign is the latest in a series of exclusively pre-roll campaigns it has completed for brands including The History Channel, Chili's Grill & Bar, National Geographic, Blackberry, Supercuts, and Land Rover.