Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The pre-roll effectiveness discussion continues ...

Interesting post at Silicon Valley Insider on pre-roll full play rates - http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/8/video-ad-companies-people-love-watching-video-ads-

Talk pre-roll with someone involved in digital media and you'll generally get a robust discussion. Some absolutely loathe the format (mostly agencies and advertisers running of a sample size of 1 - 'I never click on those' etc) and some think it provides a legitimate alternative to Television (generally publishers or ad servers).

(Tremor Media) says only 20% of Web video watchers give up and leave when confronted with the pre-rolls it serves up. Or, as Tremor is putting it in a release later today, 80% watch the ads all the way through.

Not to be outdone, Break Media is claiming an even higher "completion rate" -- 87% -- for its pre-rolls, which includes a whole lot of user-generated video.

What explains their popularity? In part, it's because advertisers geniunely think they're the most effective format available. And in part, it's because pre-rolls look and feel just like the TV ads publishers and advertisers are already comfortable with. Who's going to come up with a better solution? There's a big pot of money waiting...

I don't mind the pre-roll but like all formats it needs to be right for the advertiser. When it's right it's amazing - solus ad unit, fantastic response, engaged audience - all things we're constantly looking for.

However, I do think the pre-roll has four core issues that need to be addressed ...

- generally pre-rolls are just TVCs compressed and do not in any way take advantage of the interactive elements of the medium OR even add start and end frames that push to a web destination.
- 15/30 seconds are probably too long as formats (especially if it's just a TVC). 10 seconds I think is the max.
- why do pre-rolls have to be moving pictures and audio? Why can't they be simple flash builds (like Rich Media Eyeblaster placements, pre-stitials etc)
- a lot of AU online video clips are 45s to 2m long ... extremely short form ... which means that if a 30s TVC runs prior the ratio between advertising content and actual content is a little out of whack.

And these 4 aren't getting any better. Publishers still position pre-roll as a no brainer for TV centric clients. I think this is wrong - very wrong. Most will also buckle and run 30s formats if advertisers kick up enough of a fuss.

Creative agencies still don't take pre-roll seriously either - so they rarely allocate budget to edit a TVC or recut something fresh for a pre-roll/online video placement. Another one for the too hard basket (which is often very full)

Personally in my pre-roll recommendations to our clients I am requesting 5-7s creative MAX. Do we receive this - rarely ... Eventually we will I am sure as there is client interest in the format, however right now this is limited to pro content ... not UGC ... which raises questions about those faciliators of video UGC and how they'll remain afloat. But that's probably worth another post entirely ...

It would be interesting to get audited data on peoples opinions on pre-rolls in Oz. Right now the only groups that have data are the publishers and I can't see them telling the story if it isn't incredibly positive. On a side note, I really hope Nielsen and the IAB are looking at measuring issues like this and putting some science behind it ... What we do know is the format has real potential and the publishers see it as their next cash cow.

Lets invest in some research then ...

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