Five Ways to Treat a Pre-Roll Ad Different from TV

November 25, 2015 | blog | By Mike Sullivan

As the digital world expands, consumers are spending more time online. Early trends among Millennials show that media habits are changing and online streaming is gaining momentum.

Pre-roll, the ads that run before online content, such as YouTube, represent a new frontier and can capture the attention of users in new ways. But it’s nothing like traditional TV advertising, and here are the five things you need to know about pre-roll versus TV.

It doesn’t go both ways. It might seem like an efficient use of media buying dollars to run your commercial unedited for pre-roll or vice versa, but that doesn’t take into account the vast differences between the two forms of media. Television is a more stationary experience with a generally captive audience for live programming; digital is more active experience allowing the user to cut the ad short with a simple click.

Get ‘em hooked. You have roughly five seconds to hook your viewer. After that, they can usually skip the ad altogether and move on to their content. It’s important to hook them within the first few seconds or it’s over.

In Geico’s series of pre-roll ads, they featured their key message in an un-skippable ad, then offered up some humor for those who stayed around to see the rest.


Vary your media buy. The industry standard suggests the ad should be viewed for at least two second and 50% of the ad’s pixels are viewable in browser for it to be reported as viewership. Your media buying partner can tell you the typical view through completion (VCR) that is expected for your industry. Based on that, you can determine a cost-effective mix of the lowest-cost pre-roll ads that allow the user to skip after five seconds or more expensive ads that require the viewer to watch for :15-:30 seconds.

Brand it right. Imagine viewers completely disengaged with the ad, tapping their fingers waiting for the video to start. Add a static logo and maybe even a call-to-action in the corner so at the very least, they’ve been exposed to your brand.

Target your spot. TV is great for gaining mass appeal and also delivers excellent targeting opportunities through network and program selection, but pre-roll is an excellent option for pinpointing your target with laser-like precision.


Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


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