Pre-Roll Advertising & Why Advertisers Use It

Industry InsightsPre-Roll Advertising
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    Pre-roll advertising is one of the most common forms of advertising on social media platforms such as YouTube. Pre-roll ads are adverts that are played prior to the featured video. Pre-roll adverts have different lengths, some are as short as 6 seconds and some are as long as 60. Of course, from a user’s perspective, the shorter the ad, the better.

    Most advertising on platforms like Twitter and Youtube are skippable. However, in some cases, if the ad has caught the attention of the right viewer, they may want to find out more. In which case, they can click on the ad and be directed to the corresponding website or page where they will find out more.

    What are pre-rolls ads?

    In total, there are 3 different types of pre-roll ads for companies to choose from. There will be many factors to consider in order for a business to decide which type will best show off their products.


    The clue is in the name, really. Skippable adverts are adverts that users are able to skip instead of having to watch the whole ad. Typically, these advertisements can last around a minute, but if you wish to skip, you only have to watch a minimum of 5 seconds. For advertisers, these can be great because, in most cases, they only pay for the ad if the user watches over 30 seconds. Each time a user watches 30 seconds or more, the advertiser will pay a fee for that user. Of course, the fee per user will be relatively small.

    If you plan on using an ad type like this, then make sure it is a creative one. You need something that can really grab an audience’s attention before the ad can be skipped. Otherwise, if every user is just skipping the ad, then it’s a waste of time.


    Non-skippable advertising typically tends to frustrate viewers more, especially those that aren’t interested. As the name suggests, you can’t skip these types of advertisements. In some cases, that’s not necessarily a bad thing as they might only be 5 seconds long anyway. But in other cases, they can drag on for too long, leading some impatient viewers to just switch off the video or be so fed up they install an ad blocker, which isn’t beneficial for advertisers at all.

    Reports suggest that around 76% of people will automatically skip advertisements on Twitter, Youtube, etc. This is a significant amount and worrying for some advertisers as there is only a small portion of people that are going to be willing to watch your ad all the way through and potentially close a sale from that viewer. It also begs the question whether non-skippable adverts are a better choice as that way the viewer can’t do anything about them.

    In order for your non-skippable pre-roll ad to really be successful, you need to tap into your creativity massively and really get into the heads of the audience. Viewers will only welcome the idea of a non-skippable ad if it is worth their time. In some cases, they might switch off whilst the ad is playing, and then you are still being charged for the ad, with no end result. All advertising should grasp the attention of the audience.

    With these types of adverts, you can pay per each impression your ad gets. This is good for an advertiser as it means you have a better chance of getting your money’s worth. For example, you might pay per every 1000 views.


    Bumper ads are another popular type of advertisement format that typically last around 6 seconds, so not long at all. These are very effective on both desktop and mobile. They aim to grab the attention of audiences instantly. The goal of these ads is to increase people’s awareness of the brand or product you are promoting.

    As well as these advertisements being optimized for mobile use, they are also unskippable. Advertisers will take into consideration the types of people and situations they are in upon viewing a video on their mobile. For example, they may be in a rush and therefore not willing to watch an ad that is unskippable and lasts over a minute; they need something short.

    Advertisers will target demographics such as millennials as they take up a large portion of the mobile video industry. They are more tech-savvy and tend to be watching Youtube videos on mobile devices as opposed to an older demographic.

    Why choose pre-roll advertising?

    There are many benefits to rolling pre-roll ads, which is why they are so popular. Users are initially clicking on a video based on the content specified in the title and thumbnail; they will therefore be unaware of what ad appears unless they click on it. Pre-roll advertising will mean that the audience is likely to watch your advertisement as they are engaged and ready to watch the original content. The success rate for pre-roll advertising is higher than most.

    For example, let’s say you place an ad at the end of a video, the chances are the user has already switched off during the video or sees it is about to end, so decides not to stay and watch the ad at the end, who would do that?

    Even if it is a skippable ad and they don’t watch the whole thing, getting a glimpse for a few seconds will still be beneficial for you, especially if you are only paying for an advertisement based on viewers watching a set amount of time.

    Pre-roll advertisement campaigns are likely to increase the following:

    • Brand awareness
    • Intent to purchase
    • Brand engagement & more

    As opposed to pre-roll advertising, some advertisers will actually choose a mid-roll ad, which, as you can probably guess, is an advertisement placed during the middle of a video. These can be seen as very disruptive and are only common on videos that are very long.

    Benefits of pre-roll advertising

    Above we have mentioned a variety of benefits that these types of adverts offer. What we haven’t discussed is the flexibility of these advertisements. Thanks to the type of data advertisers can use to create pre-roll ads and also choose which videos to advertise in, they can get a good idea of what their target audience is watching and how to target them with more precision.

    Having an advertisement before the start of a video is seen as less disruptive as the main content hasn’t even begun yet. There are also different types of advertisements you can use, depending on who your audience is and what reports suggest is best when targeting them.

    With it being at the start of the video, there is a greater chance of the audience being engaged and actually taking in the information from the ad campaign, as opposed to being during the middle of the main content or at the end, where customers are less likely to be engaged and have switched off.

    A recent study by IPG Media Lab and YuMe suggest that the most successful way to generate purchases is via pre roll ads. When you consider the factors previously mentioned, it is clear to see why this is the case. If you are an advertiser and these ads are relevant to your industry, then this information needs to be put under serious consideration.

    With all that said, the ad itself needs to be sufficient. Just because the stats are in favor of this ad type working, it only applies if your advertisement reaches the right audience in the right way. A low-effort ad with poor creativity will simply not work.

    The best platforms for pre-roll advertising

    There are many social platforms that facilitate pre-roll ad campaigns now, as they see they are becoming increasingly popular and advertisers are always on the lookout for growing platforms to publish their content on.

    CTV pre-roll ads

    Connected TV (CTV) advertising is a way for advertisers to reach their audience on smart TVs and OTT devices. In order for publishers to do this, they must be on a platform that accepts ads. Smart TVs are growing in popularity as we become more accustomed to new technologies.

    Examples of CTV devices include Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, Playstation and more. Due to some of the exclusive programmes featured on these platforms, it helps bring in a huge audience, an audience that advertisers want to target.

    Pre-roll ads would be highly effective on these platforms, just like they are on other platforms like Youtube. Advertisers will be able to pick which programmes and content to advertise based on various criteria such as demographics, geography, language, interests, etc. For example, let’s say there is an exclusive sports programme on Amazon Fire TV, then sports related products would be a great pre-roll advert feature.

    To succeed in advertising on connected TV, it’s crucial to select the right partner that can offer highly precise targeting and transparent analytics. VlogBox is a platform that gathers all these tools in one place – from powerful marketing features to deep analytics.

    It’s important for advertising companies to keep up to date with the new trends in digital marketing to tap into new audiences and not miss out on any areas with great potential.

    Youtube pre-roll video ads

    Youtube is by far the most popular, which is probably no surprise as you can use many format strategies, which chances are you will have come across one before. A YouTube pre-roll ad will play before the main content and will cover the whole screen, which isn’t always the case with other platforms. The advertisement can be skippable, non-skippable, or a bumper ad. Of course, if you have an ad blocker, you wouldn’t have noticed these advertisements.

    Twitch pre-roll ads

    Twitch is a huge platform filled with video content, which is why you can rightly assume pre-roll video content is massively targeted on Twitch. Similar to how YouTube operates, a Twitch ad will be placed before the main content, and it can come in different forms (skippable/ non-skippable/ bumper). Twitch is a platform that is growing in popularity, mainly known for gaming streams, however, there are many other niches of streams that will appeal to advertisers as a great place to market their brand and spread awareness.

    More platforms

    Twitter is another social media platform with a huge customer base. Twitter itself is a platform that displays a lot of media with what is known as a “tweet”. The only way pre-roll advertising can be featured on Twitter is by appearing on publisher videos. In some cases, the adverts will only cover a small portion of the screen, not affecting you watching the main content of the video. These ads will normally be skippable and can last between 6-30 seconds. Twitter has strict rules in place when it comes to advertisements; if viewers watch even a small amount of the ad (3 seconds) before skipping, the advertiser will be charged.

    Another popular social media platform we have to mention is Facebook. They operate in a similar way to Twitter, not all of their content is video-based, and therefore, pre-roll ads can only apply where necessary. Due to the popularity of these ad types, Facebook actually increased the number of pre-roll ads on their platform, allowing more advertisers to use it to promote products. However, these ad types can only last for 6 seconds, so they may not appeal to some companies.

    Getting the most out of pre-roll ads

    In order to get the most out of pre-roll advertising, you need to find what it is that is stopping viewers from automatically skipping videos. What can you do to ensure a viewer watches your ad and then clicks through and makes a purchase with you? There are many factors to consider.

    Firstly, you need to make sure you are tapping into the right demographic. Companies will have a clear understanding of what their customer base is and what the consumer habits are. For example, if you are targeting fitness enthusiasts, then you will place your advertisement on fitness-related content.

    Once you are targeting the right content, it is then time to make sure you are able to engage the viewers in such little time; how would you do that? Studies suggest that customers don’t like adverts that are “too much” and almost cry out for you to buy their goods or services. They like a more subtle approach, almost showing the customer why they need your product without actually telling them that they need it.

    Use the little amount of time you have to be creative, relevant, and offer a quality ad. Differentiate yourself from other products and find ways to stand out.