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Making YouTube Pre-roll Video ads more effective

Author's avatar By 16 Jun, 2015
Essential Essential topic

Examples showing how can you make pre-roll videos effective when people do not want to watch pre-roll video ads

Let’s face it. Does anyone really want to watch a YouTube advert? Probably not. In fact, ninety-four per cent of us choose to skip the rest of the pre-roll after the compulsory first five seconds. And that figure is considered fairly generous.

And who can blame you for skipping? Often the ads are irrelevant, usually they are boring and sometimes they are just simply irritating. All you want to do is watch your video, right? It’s annoying having to stare at the Skip Ad button for five seconds, waiting for what seems like an eternity (and much longer than five seconds) to just view your clip.

So you might be surprised to learn that occasionally, very, very occasionally, YouTube pre-rolls can work. However, it has to be something pretty special. Let’s take a look at some of the best examples of killer YouTube pre-rolls that have totally nailed the viewer experience and kept mouse cursors firmly away from that skip button. It's worth following these examples since You Tube Trueview Instream videos do present a good opportunity to gain reach.

Nailing pre-roll video creative

This American marketing agency set itself the bold task of creating an un-skippable Trueview YouTube ad. With TrueView ads, advertisers are only billed when the viewer watches the whole clip.

The result is a thirty second ad, featuring a harmless puppy and the stark warning; “You can skip this ad, but then, you’ll electrocute this puppy.”

With this clip, Nail remind us how crucial it is to grab viewer attention in the first five seconds of the advert.

Businesses can sometimes be guilty of simply uploading their TV ad onto YouTube, hoping for the same effect. But YouTube is a completely different beast, and certainly not as friendly-looking as the puppy featured in this ad.

TV-style advert intros, with slow pans over atmospheric landscapes will only encourage your viewers to get frustrated and hit skip. So did Nail Communications, er, nail it with this emotional ploy to prevent us from skipping?

Pretty much. A whopping twenty-six per cent of viewers decided not to skip the ad, watching the full clip and saving this puppy, and future puppies, in the process.

Nail matched the YouTube TrueView bill and donated this money to animal charity, ASPCA. example

If you’re in a miserable job, Monday mornings can only mean two things: Dreaming about handing in your notice and putting off starting your working week.

The classic example of procrastinating on the internet usually entails searching for videos to lighten your mood, with skateboarder stunt fails, boyfriends pranking their girlfriends and humorous cat videos often making the cut.

It’s this last internet cliché that Reed used to keep you hooked. (Who can resist puppies and kittens?) But four seconds in…you get a rude interruption from your box of fluff.

Burger King example

When was the last time you wanted to tune in for a leisurely showing of Animals Attack, only for your viewing to be suspended by pre-roll video ads, which has nothing to do with your chosen video? Annoying, right?

New Zealand advertising agency, Colenso BBDO, created these sixty-four pre-rolls, specifically made for the video they preceded. So, whether you wanted to tune in to a Kings of Leon video or catch up with Jimmy Fallon’s antics, there would be a corresponding pre-roll to match your choice.

Each video features two guys, chatting about how annoying pre-rolls are, with a great value burger king meal between them. Novel? Yes. Creative? Certainly. Still annoying? Maybe a little.

As frustrating as a pre-roll is, this one does grab your attention. The acknowledgment of the annoyance pre-rolls create is also likely to set the brand a little more favourably in the viewer’s mind too.

Missing Persons example

We know that unless your pre-roll is entertaining or useful, viewers are probably not going to be interested. But what if your video was more than useful, and gave your viewer a chance to do something positive for their community?

Australian Marketing Agency, VML, used geo-targeting to present the viewer with images of missing people in their area. Instead of being asked if they wanted to skip the video, this button invited viewers to ‘change a life’ whilst the skip second counter ticked from five to zero.

The pre-rolls were a big success. Over five days, 1.2 million Australians viewed the clips, with two hundred and thirty-eight people clicking ‘Yes I Have’ when prompted with an image, information about a missing person and the crucial question – ‘Have you seen this person?’

Clicking on ‘Yes I Have’ directed the viewer to a sheet where they could provide further information on these shelved missing person cases.

Volkswagen example

Cars don’t just get you from A to B these days, oh no. They can tell you when you’re going to back into a bollard, they can wirelessly charge your iPhone and they can even recognise traffic light sequences (and advise you how fast to drive in order to pass them at ‘green’).
Pretty good, eh?

But wouldn’t it be great if they could also master the most annoying task on the internet? The obligatory Skip Ad mouse click.

Introducing the VW Fusca. Not only can it automatically change gears for you, it can skip those pesky YouTube ads too.

The complete advert is five seconds long, so viewers don’t even have to think about skipping the rest of the ad. The clever car appears to do it for them.

Viewers will sit through a pre-roll. But it has to be on their terms. Think about how annoying it is to sit through an ad, when the clip you want to see is only one or two minutes long anyway. Just like pop-ups and banners, pre-rolls are an interruption we could all do without.

However, with a bit of creative risk-taking, such as giving your viewer an opportunity to do a good deed for their community, you could well turn your engaged YouTuber into a long-term customer. And you don’t always have to use a wired-up puppy or box of kittens.

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YouTube TrueView video ads

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