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FacebookHere’s the situation. You are returning from a business trip and missed the highly anticipated season finale of Homeland. No problem. You have the HBO-GO app on your smartphone and you link up while at the airport and get ready to watch the show. But wait! Before you can hit play, you are served up a 30-second ad for the new BMW 328i that you have to watch in order to get to the content you have selected.

This is called Pre-roll Marketing and it is difficult to escape if you are a heavily wired individual. And for good reason.

According to Nielsen in a report issued in December 2013, mobile users spend an average of 34 hours, 21 minutes on their Smartphones monthly. (1) So where we used to be able to reach our target market with geo-targeted banner ads and behavioral online marketing, now we are able to serve up a video marketing message to the right person at exactly the right time, literally in their hands. Intrusive, yes. But also highly effective. In fact, Advertisers should know that pre-roll ads are 2.5 times more effective than banner ads. (2)

So if pre-roll marketing isn’t part of your current plan, here is a little Pre-Roll 101 to help you determine if it is the right fit for you.

What is Pre-Roll?

A promotional video message that plays before the content that a user has selected. It may vary in length and depending on the type of pre-roll it may have to play in its entirety before the user can watch their content or they may skip it after a short period of time to move on to their content.

Why is it Effective?

The team over at Convince and Convert (2) provide us with some convincing research as to why these video messages are incredibly effective including:

  • Communication Effectiveness: Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in text.
  • Buying Decision: 52 percent of consumers say that watching product videos makes them more confident in online purchase decisions.

Another major benefits of pre-roll advertising is that in most cases you are able to very specifically target your customer by their content habits broken out by:

  • Geography
  • Language
  • Demographics
  • Topics
  • Interests


Since this is an intrusive form of digital communication you should know that there is a good way to do it and an awful way of doing it. In most cases taking your 30-second TV spot and slapping it on pre-roll will not necessarily bring you the results you are looking for. Creating custom videos for this purpose – while it can be pricey – is really the way to go. Otherwise the viewer will see right through it. Also, knowing that many folks can “skip” the video after a set amount of seconds, the opening of your video has never been more important.

Here are some recommended tips for success:

  • Keep it short (30 seconds to three minutes max).
  • Make them feel the pain points of the problem you solve and then inspire them with the benefits of your product or service.
  • Don’t make the kind of commercial that people think of as commercials.
  • Do something interesting and different. Copy structure but not content.

So are you ready to increase your brand awareness using one of the fastest growing digital tactics today? Don’t miss the boat. Do your research and join the other advertisers that will make up the estimated $5.4 billion in US digital video spending by 2016.