Cisco recently predicted that 80 percent of all consumer traffic online will consist of video downloads and video streaming by 2019. This has got brands falling over themselves to invest in the next big thing in video marketing. However, not all video ads are created equal.
Video advertising is no longer seen as a disruptive method of digital marketing, but it does need to be deployed in the right way. Content publishers are still struggling to find the right time and places in which to advertise and to establish best practices for publishing ads alongside video content. As more and more advertising windows become available, there has never been a better time to test out various ad strategies to see which of your video ads will deliver the best ROI. Once you find the right formula for your ads it is a strategy you can repeat again and again.
It's All About Placement
One of the biggest points of concern for video marketers is that of ad placement. Ads can be placed before, in the middle of or after a piece of video content. Otherwise known as pre-, mid- or post-roll ads, these methods of video advertising are shown when an audience is actively viewing content and in a somewhat captive state.
Get it wrong, however, and there is a good chance that your ad will be skipped and ignored completely. That could be a lot of marketing dollars down the drain. Get it right and you could experience your best viewing figures and conversion streak yet. Fortunately, there is no reason to take a hit-or-miss approach as there is enough research to guide you in making the right placement decision.
Whether you are placing ads alongside YouTube content via the Google Display Network or within gaming content, there are a number of ways to place your ads that will raise brand awareness, drive consideration and reach a wide audience. What's more, you have more advertising channels and devices at your disposal than ever before. It makes sense to use them to your best advantage in meaningful and effective ways.
Pre-Roll – Catching Them Before the Big Event
Running your video ads before video content starts may sound like the most obvious strategy, and it is one that has worked very well for many years. Think back to the last time you went to the movies. No doubt there was a large chunk of your time dedicated to trailers and ads before the movie started. Many of these will have been geared to a relevant audience in terms of age, gender or interests. While some people may have timed their arrival so that they missed out on the ad reel, the majority would have already been in their seats when it started.
Pre-roll advertising can work very well, but there are some caveats to be aware of when using pre-roll ads alongside video content. For example, there is still a risk of abandonment with pre-roll ads just as there is for any other type of video advertising. Most viewers pay more attention to the skip button and how many seconds they have left before they can click it. Viewers may even decide not to watch the main piece of content if they are bombarded with ads beforehand and switch off. For this reason, it is extremely important to target your ad to the right audience and also make it as brief as possible.
Viewers want to get to the main content as quickly as possible, so hit them with just a few seconds of high-impact advertising. For the best results, pre-roll ads need to be super-targeted, and actually take a best guess at what the viewer wants to happen next. Take this preroll from Volkswagen. Not only did they mention the skip button in their ad, but they also clicked it for the user. Helpful, unique and likely to make the viewer see Volkswagen as a brand on their wavelength.
Mid-Roll – Less Disruptive Than You Might Think
Mid-roll advertising is one of the most effective means of advertising, and has worked very well within the television industry for many decades. In fact, mid-roll advertising enjoys a higher completion rate to that of pre-roll and post-roll ads, and can bring solid returns. Your viewers are looking forward to the rest of their content and will be more patient and receptive to viewing mid-roll advertising as a result. Research shows that mid-roll completion rates can be 20-25% higher than pre-roll ads.
Don't forget that the majority of your viewers will have been brought up on a diet of mid-roll ads, and will be well-accustomed with the format. This doesn't mean you have to focus less on relevancy or placement. You should still build the same amount of targeting and accuracy into your mid-roll efforts.
Post-Roll - Place Them Well and They Will Deliver
Who is going to watch an ad after the credits roll? It's a good question, and one that is very relevant. What's in it for the viewer? Ever heard of FOMO? It's fear-of-missing-out, and it's something all consumers have in abundance. When post-roll ads are placed intelligently after content they can work extremely well. For example, a branded call-to-action ad following branded video content can guide the viewer to get in touch, find out more or to watch the next video in the series. Give them a reason not to miss the post-roll content and they will watch right to the very end.
Choosing the Best Placement Type
So, which placement strategy is best? Well, as any seasoned advertiser knows when it comes to running ads in general, there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution. Ideal ad placement will be determined on a case-by-case basis, taking your target audience demographics and behavior into account, as well as your end goals.
However, if you are looking for a silver bullet answer that applies to all types of video content ads, shorter entertaining ads tend to have higher completion and conversion rates.