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How Effective Pre-Roll Ads Can Boost Your Direct Response Marketing

Jonathan Rolley
Jonathan Rolley Posted on Apr 21, 2016, 10:00:00 AM

When was the last time you watched a whole pre-roll YouTube ad? Or clicked on a pre-roll link on purpose? If you respond to the average pre-roll ad in the same way that most people do, then you’re probably thinking that pre-roll advertisements are not very effective. But you’d be wrong. Pre-roll ads can very effective when they are done right.

'Skip Ad' button

So, what does it take make pre-roll work, you ask. Three things: creativity, technological innovation and a change of view with regards to relevancy. Let me explain.

You’ve got to get creative.

On average, you have only three to five seconds to grab someone’s attention with a pre-roll advertisement. Fail, and they hit the skip button. So how do you do it? A close look at a dozen pre-roll ads revealed three effective marketing strategies.

The first marketing strategy plays on the fact that it is possible to skip a pre-roll ad and that most web users will be tempted to do so. Such ads work by admitting that the ad is interruptive and then imploring the viewer not to hit the skip button. This ad by NAIL Communications warns you that by clicking on the skip ad button, you’ll electrocute their puppy. The way that the jumper cables are hooked up to the skip button surprises the viewer long enough for NAIL Communications to get their message across.

Others work by addressing the viewer directly. This particularly creative ad by reed.co.uk starts with a basket of kittens, an image that is shattered when James Reed comes crashing through your screen to accuse you of procrastinating. He then hangs around with an awkwardness that makes you want to click on him just so that he’ll go away. Like the previous ad, this one works because it is so involving.

A third type of creative pre-roll avoids the problem of securing the viewer’s attention altogether: it gets its entire message out in 5 seconds. Will Ferrell does this in his Dodge ad. Such a marketing strategy works well with simple messages.

But such marketing strategies are not essential. Some of the best pre-roll ads work because they are just very clever. They arouse enough intrigue in the first 5 seconds to get you, the viewer, to watch the whole thing. Singing toys will do it.

Take the technology into account.

It’s not enough to just produce great pre-roll creative. Marketers also have to adapt their marketing strategies for the different screen sizes and time constraints. Direct response advertising is all about using the right medium to reach target audiences with the right message, and the right message often changes with the medium. Someone doing some on-the-go browsing on their mobile phone is not going to be able to give as much time to a pre-roll ad as they would if they had been at a desktop. Marketers need to consider the contexts in which the different devices are used and how they affect buyer behaviour.

But it’s not just a case of shorter ads for mobile and longer ads for desktop. It’s also important to take screen size into consideration. Smaller screens are not able to show as much detail, and a panoramic shot that looks great on a desktop monitor will look less than impressive on the small screen of a smartphone. The most successful brands will be those who realise these limitations and then learn how to use these differences to their advantage.

Rethink relevancy.

For too long, marketers have attached their pre-roll ads to the web’s most popular content with little thought for who is actually watching it. The powerful data analytics provided by Google and YouTube have been completely underutilised. Brands assume that success can be achieved by casting as wide a net as possible, but this absolutely kills relevancy. These ads rarely connect with people. To improve the relevancy of their ads, brands should analyse the engagement metrics of videos related to their industries.

An automotive brand could, for example, look at the different motoring-related videos to determine the topics of greatest interest to their target audience. Such insights will result in the kind of relevancy that makes a pre-roll advertisement far more likely to hold a viewer’s attention for those crucial first five seconds. 

The best direct response marketing is scientific: it relies on data analytics to fine-tune a marketing strategy to ensure the greatest ROI. And like any other direct response advertising tool, pre-roll ads have certain attributes and characteristics that have to be properly understood before any sense can be made of those data analytics.

DRM is a leading Melbourne advertising agency and this is what we do: use our in-depth knowledge of TV advertising and online video to derive valuable data analytics from our metrics. Learn more about how optimised direct marketing can help grow your brand here.

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Image Credit: My Customer

 

Jonathan Rolley
This post was Written by Jonathan Rolley

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