Current Pre-Roll Video Ad Format is Irritating for User:
Pre-roll video ad is possibly the most popular video ad-format among advertisers, but also the most irritating format for users. We all have seen the pre-roll video ads on YouTube which can be skipped only after a specific duration (like 5 seconds). Some actually cannot be skipped at all! This is detrimental for both advertisers and video-platforms like YouTube because:
- Negative user experience on video platform: Forcibly makes user watch the ad video. In today’s world of continuously reducing attention spans, and ever-increasing choices for user, this can eventually become the reason for users to switch to other video platform
- False clicks, and hence reduced conversions: Users looking for skip button, often end up clicking on the ad. This takes them to a new page, and away from the desired video they wanted to watch. Such false clicks is wastage of advertisers’ money and reduces the overall campaign performance
- Non-completion of ad-video: Video ads are measured by the length of video seen by users. Quartiles of video ad watched are tracked and reported. In such scenario, pre-roll ads will fail miserably on completion rate
- Once skipped, ad video is gone: Intuitive user reaction is to skip the video. Once skipped, the ad video is gone. These are served programmatically, hence even if user refreshes the page, there is no chance that same ad video will be shown again. Once skipped, users just don’t have the chance to go back to ad video, even if they want to!
- Negative brand perception: If you are going to make your target audience see your brand’s video by force – against their wish – for letting them see their desired video, I think you are doing more bad than any good to your brand. This can create negative brand perception
Considering the above reasons, it’s no wonder that 94% of users are skipping pre-roll ads, and 52% do this frequently! Users find skippable pre-roll ad twice favorable than non-skippable pre-roll ads (source).
Some may argue that given a choice, users will always want to avoid or skip any kind of advertising. This cannot be true. If the advertising is engaging and attractive – and it is shown when user is receptive to see it – advertisements will make the desired impact. After marketer has invested so much in making and attractive and useful video ad, it is very incorrect to deliver such ad when user is least willing to see it. Irrespective of how good or bad the video ad is, pre-roll video ad format makes this ad a villain for user.
MINIMIZE instead of SKIP
Pre-roll video ad format needs innovation – “Change the in-stream pre-roll video ad into overlay, and allow users to MINIMIZE instead of skip”.
Give users a choice to minimize the pre-roll ad into an in-set frame. Something like below:
Characteristics of in-set frame for ad video:
In-set frame should be made as non-intrusive as possible, and also serve the purpose of delivering advertiser’s marketing message to user –
- Minimize button available from the start of the pre-roll video ad
- On minimize, ad video continues to play in in-set frame, with audio muted
- After specified duration (say 5 seconds), in-set frame fades and becomes 50% transparent (transparency setting to be adjusted as required). Frame can become completely transparent as well, if required
- In-set frame becomes opaque and visible on mouse-over or other predetermined triggers (like at the end of the user-requested video or when user-requested video is paused)
- User can drag the in-set frame, and can have option to make it totally transparent
Benefits of Overlay In-Set Frame for Pre-Roll Video:
- Ad video now plays to completion. Metrics can be used to report for what length video played in full-size and in minimized frame
- Avoid false clicks. Users can any time go back to the ad video
- Better user-experience
- Since ad video plays to completion, if it is attractive enough, will get users to engage better and increase brand recall and conversion rates
- Advertisers will be motivated to create more attractive and engaging ad videos which can compete with the user-requested video for user’s attention. This is step forward towards making advertising as engaging as the content itself
Challenges to Implement this In-Set Ad Video Ad-Format:
- Moving from in-stream to overlay video is a fundamental change in technical delivery of user-requested video and ad video. Though for users and advertisers, user-experience is not much different, video players will have to significantly change their architecture
- In-set video ad format needs to be compatible with industry standards like VAST and VPAID
- This will need change in the metrics tracked and reported
- With higher chance of view completion and better impact, advertisers will be bidding higher, and can result in significant change in video ad campaign design and optimization process
Aligned to Users’ Propensity of Respond:
In-set ad video format concept is aligned to the thinking that ads will perform well if they are shown when user has higher “Propensity to Respond”. I wrote about this earlier here. New-age marketers are continuously facing the challenge of reduced attention span of users. Mobile is becoming primary device for users and content consumption is increasingly happening through apps. Marketers need to recognize that users’ 1st priority is the content or app-activity, and not their ads. Hence users will respond to the same ad differently depending on what mind-set they are in, depending on what is their “Propensity to Respond”. This metric needs to be tracked, measured and made mainstream for all advertisement format.
What are your thoughts on the in-set video ad format? Please share your feedback in the comment box below.