Pre-roll video advertising is a controversial topic. Whilst many advertisers deploy them throughout the internet to great effect, others avoid them at all costs, believing them to be ineffective and even potentially damaging to brand image.
These opinions, however, are both oversimplified. The success of pre-roll ads, largely judged on the all-important view through rates, relies entirely on the creativity of the ad in question. Many advertisers have found unconventional, intelligent and unusual ways to utilise the ad format and get their brand seen. In light of this, we have scoured the internet for some of the most effective pre-roll ads that, even given the chance, you wouldn’t want to skip.
GEICO, Unskippable Ads
The video below is one of a collection of pre-rolls ads created by Geico that won the greatest fame and awards. At first, the ad appears to show a quintessential scene of a family eating spaghetti together around the dinner table. Three seconds in, however, and importantly before you have skipped the ad, the actors pretend to be frozen and the voiceover daringly claims - “You can’t skip this ad, because it’s already over.”
"You can’t skip this ad, because it’s already over."
But the ad has actually barely begun. Whilst the actors remain frozen, the family’s pet dog climbs onto the table and slurps its way through the spaghetti. Whilst this ensues, and only 15 seconds into the ad, Geico’s logo has been unashamedly placed in the middle of the screen and the product proposition has been clearly announced. The ad purposefully defies a number of rules in the advertising manual, and its response showed just how important it is to challenge the norm – it won the prestigious Grand Prix in Film at the Cannes Lions Festival 2015 and gained more than 14 million views, according to Geico’s Senior Marketing Director Amy Furman.
Nail Communications, Why are we all doing YouTube Pre-roll wrong?
One of the better-known pre-rolls ads, Nail Communications created a pre-roll ad to experiment with the psychology behind the infamously unpopular ad format.
The premise of the ad is simple. The Nail’s spokesman claims that if you choose to skip the ad, the puppy, seemingly strapped to jumper cables connected to the ‘Skip this Ad’ box, will be electrocuted. If you don’t, the company will donate 50 cents to the ASPCA. Using reverse psychology, shock factor and an adorable puppy, the test was a great success - whilst the typical pre-roll ad achieves view through rates of 6-8%, this ad gained an impressive rate of 26%, and all on a modest budget.
Opel, Skip Test
Research shows that five seconds into a pre-roll ad, 94% of users will skip. Opel Eye, a German compact SUV, decided to play on this by displaying its latest car interacting with the skip button as it would on real obstacles on a road – the connecting being purposefully unsubtle. The ad opens by immediately admitting it is pre-roll and even tells the viewer that it will use the skip button to showcase the mobility and off-road ability of the car.
The ad is a perfect example of how important it is to bring creativity to pre-roll ad formats, generating millions of views and winning a generous handful of awards including Epica 2014 Gold and KIAF 2014 Gold and Bronze.
NETFLIX, The Friendly Pre-roll Campaign
This last example is by Netflix and showcases how to use pre-rolls ads as part of a much broader and longer campaign to great success. Back in 2012, Netflix bought the rights to all 236 episodes of Friends. Many questioned this purchase, wondering how the entertainment company could bring back a TV series that broadcasted its last episode in 2004. The solution? Pre-rolls ads responsive to the video you are about to watch.
When a user watched a video on YouTube, a pre-roll ad of a clip from Friends that was relevant to the video content would be played. Watch a video of cute cats for example, and the user will be played a clip when Rachel bought the vicious $1000 Sphinx cat. Or search for videos on dance moves and you’ll be served an ad of Monica and Ross’ infamous dance routine. Ogilvy Paris, the agency responsible for the campaign, claimed it led to Friends becoming “the it show” in France twelve years after its last broadcast.
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