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Pre-roll video advertising is only a good tool for advertisers who are willing to do it right. Throwing a 30-second television spot into YouTube and hoping for the best is certainly not an effective pre-roll video advertising strategy. Advertisers who want to learn more about pre-roll video advertising best practices and how to implement them to serve targeted, entertaining pre-roll ads on platforms like YouTube have to think about “the before, the during and the after.”

What does that mean? The before involves issues like defining the audience, targeting, technology and settings. The during is the content of the advertising itself, including the call to action. And, the after is where viewers end up after they watch the video. This blog covers each component , setting you up for success with your pre-roll video advertising adventure.

Pre-Roll Video Advertising – The Before

Before diving into production on a great new video ad for pre-roll on YouTube, there are several important questions to consider:

  • Who is your audience?
  • How are you selling your service or product?
  • Why is a video ad a good choice for this particular offer?
  • What can you do to ensure the ad reaches the right person?
  • How, exactly will you use Topic and Interest targeting options on YouTube?

Pre-Roll Video Advertising – The During

The content – the video ad itself – is probably the most important part of the equation. This is what we call “the during” because it’s what’s happening while that viewer is seeing your ad. The most important considerations for the content of a pre-roll video ad itself are:

  • Grabbing attention in the first five seconds is crucial. A widely quoted fact in pre-roll video advertising is over 90% of people skip a pre-roll ad after five seconds.
  • Self-awareness and humor go a long way. Many successful pre-roll advertisers play on the fact that they are trying to beat the skip button.
  • Don’t create a pre-roll ad over 15 seconds. Just don’t.
  • The importance of having a clear call-to-action cannot be overstated. Your video has a very small window of time to convince the viewer to do something. Be really clear about your offer and how it personally benefits “(them or him or her”- fine with any of these).
  • Your video production team should always ensure iab standards like VAST and VPAID are followed in the set-up, so your videos can play where they need to play.

Pre-Roll Video Advertising – The After

A huge repeated mistake in pre-roll video advertising is to be disconnected from what happens after the ad. Your call to action inside the video may entice viewers to click, but far too often, advertisers fall short on what happens afterward. (Hint: don’t link to your homepage).

  • Following through on your call to action with a nicely designed landing page that offers more detail, or other valuable content is key. At the very least, make sure you link to the specific product page for the product you advertised.
  • Consider the user experience. What will the viewer see after they do what you ask them to do? How does that experience color their perception of your brand and its products or services? How does your video content lead into a conversion?
  • Align your pre-roll video ad with a great user experience that leads to a measurable goal, whether that’s lead generation or a purchase. “Branding” is not a good goal for pre-roll video.

Pre-Roll Video Advertising That Works

One of the most successful pre-roll video ads in YouTube history was a virtually unskippable advertisement by the ASPCA. Although it did involve a threatening death for an adorable puppy, the ad did its job; garnering thousands of dollars in donations for the organization. Burger King had similar success with its self-aware and highly targeted approach to pre-roll video ads. The key is to be clear about your target audience, be clear about your offer and be clear about what will happen afterward. Above all else, be creative. Video ads cannot survive without creativity.

Video pre-roll is on the rise. Check out our Solution Brief for details on how to make video advertising work for you!

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