WFA News

Pre-rolls: Discovering Best Practice

Brands that simply re-use their TV ads online are missing out on a major communications opportunity. Mathias Giloth reports.

Few marketers would think that using a press ad on an outdoor site would be truly effective but many are still serving up old TV copy as part of their pre-roll strategy.

Such strategies could be costly because, according to a survey by Specific Media, pre-rolls can increase consumers purchase intention by up to 25%. So, no surprise that demand for pre-rolls is strong and the good news for marketers is that they deliver what many have been looking for, the chance to target consumers with relevant content.

Pre-rolls are typically shown in advance of consumer-selected reports, news, interviews or entertaining online videos, and hence need in most cases to be viewed from start to finish. Additionally they can be frequency capped. Within the pre-roll ad the spot and any respective banner can be dynamic and linked to more related information. In fact, a full variety of adjustments up to personalisation are possible to optimise effectiveness of the pre-roll concept.

While marketers have long been looking for the means to optimise their messages in just these ways, the reality is that few are actually doing so. Ebiquity research carried out in November 2011 has found that pre-rolls are still an underestimated and underdeveloped concept.

More than 40% of those questioned who used pre-rolls alongside TV simply reused the existing TV spot. Additionally more than 90% only launched the major element of the pre-rolls campaign after the TV had begun. Only 3.9% went live digitally first.

We did also discover some good practice. More than 45% used pre-roll creative that was a variation on the TV ad with differences in spot length, sequences and content. Examples included special product shots, shorter spots, different storyboards or more interactive opportunities.

Nevertheless only 9.5 % really used interactive elements such as link to product tests, user blogs, brand-related videos, vouchers or simply further product-related information to really enrich their spot.

What this data shows is that many companies are still struggling to fully utilise the opportunities of both the pre-roll format specifically and online media generally.

To manage the challenges marketers need a better understanding of what’s possible. The first step is often detailed monitoring of ongoing activities and trends in the marketplace.

Next, brands need to ensure detailed analysis of the outcome and impact of pre rolls, both individually and on the rest of the marketing mix. This is the key for a process of learning and optimization – it’s essential that pre-rolls are an integrated part of ad campaigns, not just an added extra.

There is great potential to increase the effectiveness of pre-rolls, if marketers take the time to understand them.