Does anyone really believe that consumers like pre-rolls ads online?
Because I think pre-roll ads—the ones that walk and talk like 15- or 30-second TV commercials and run in front of Internet programming—simply suck.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get that ads are the price of admission to watching free content. I don’t have any problem with that concept. But just because I understand, accept and sometimes embrace that exchange—you make content for me, I watch ads for you—there is no reason on earth that those ads should be pre-rolls.
So when Break Media and video ad network Tremor Media, two online video companies I like and respect, touted the pre-roll last week in their recently released studies, I had to ask both companies: “Who’s to blame for the persistence of this sucky ad format?”
That’s a leading question, said Keith Richman, Break CEO. “We aren’t saying people love them, but I do think what the studies are showing is to watch content they are interested in, people will accept and watch pre-rolls,” he said.
Break’s study found that over an 11-week period, the click-through rate for pre-rolls is about 10%. Now, I watch a lot of online video and I can’t remember the last time I clicked on a pre-roll ad—or if I ever have. So 10% seems pretty high.
The study also found that completion rates for both 15-second pre-rolls and interactive pre-rolls was 87%, meaning only 13% of viewers were so turned off by the ad that they clicked away.
Tremor Media reported similar results. In a study tracking nearly 65 million ad impressions, Tremor said consumers watched 15- and 30-second pre-roll ads all the way through 80% of the time.
Tremor Media CEO Jason Glickman said completion rates are high because the ads run in front of professionally produced material rather than user-generated content. “It is proof that audiences are willing to accept pre-roll advertising in exchange for the content they want, on demand,” he said in a statement.
I’m not sure I agree. I think the results are proof that consumers got up and went to the bathroom during the ad, or proof that they surfed off to another site while the ad ran.
Look, I want the online video advertising economy to succeed. The more advertisers pony up to sponsor online programming, the more I can cover the best beat there is.
But I just don’t buy that the pre-roll ad is the best foundation for this business. Overlays are better, host shoutouts are better, brought-to-you-by messages are better.
We should use those instead.
But don’t hold your breath. Advertisers aren’t ready, Mr. Richman said. “Advertisers are making creative for television and there is not a budget yet and research yet to support making the dominant form interactive ads, so they aren’t willing to invest in two different creatives,” he said.
How do you feel about pre-roll ads? Let us know by posting a comment.