Why Pre-Roll Advertising Should Be More Interactive

This is a post from guest blogger, Zvika Netter, CEO of Innovid.

As video content has moved online, advertisers have adopted many of the same methods with online video as they have utilized for years with television. Pre-roll advertising functions like a television ad; viewers must watch the ad for either fifteen or thirty seconds before accessing the video. Pre-roll advertising dominates online video inventory, since advertisers have repurposed TV ads for online presentation and it is a relatively simple form of advertising.

If pre-roll advertising is so dominant, why should it change? Because pre-roll advertising blocks viewers online habits. The viewer does not want to passively sit back and watch an ad; they want to be able to engage with the content they see. Although pre-roll advertising currently dominates, approximately 45% of viewers abandon the content they intend to view if it is accompanied by pre-roll. With a 0.1% click-through rate, pre-roll engagement is low. The discrepancy between advertisers high use of pre-roll and the actual consumer engagement suggests that a change with the status quo is necessary.

Even television advertising is changing to adhere to rapidly increasing consumer demand for interactivity and engagement. DirecTV, Comcast, and Time Warner, have all invested in this new type of advertising. The expectation is that viewers will be able to purchase products directly via the television. Interactive television advertising that will allow viewers to click on ads will dramatically transform the way viewers experience television. Online advertising needs to follow suit. Its silly for the Internet to just imitate TV, when the consumer has become accustomed to a far richer viewing experience.

Online pre-roll advertising will be far more effective if it becomes more personalized and more interactive. One way to introduce interactivity into the pre-roll is to embed components with which the viewer can engage. Not only will viewers be able to satisfy their need for interaction, they will also be able to more deeply connect with the product by receiving more information in a concentrated form — within the video player itself.

For instance, a shampoo commercial in pre-roll form would describe how the viewer can achieve a certain hairstyle. The embedded interactive ad for this shampoo brand would include detailed instructions on how to achieve the advertised look. Similarly, the embedded ad in a pre-roll food commercial could include recipes using that food. This way the embedded material highly complements the pre-roll by making it more interactive as well as more informative.

More interactive pre-roll advertising will also save consumers time. The embedded ad can display information about where the consumer can purchase the product and provide a direct link to the website. Currently, with no embedded ability to interact, a viewer would have to take the extra step to go to a companys website to purchase the product after watching the pre-roll. But since the video they want to watch actually follows the ad, it is unlikely that they will return to the products website after the viewing.

Although pre-roll advertising may seem like an easy solution to reach viewers, it will not satisfy advertisers need for engagement. If consumers respond negatively to the static nature of pre-roll ads, increased interactivity will retain viewer interest. Fifteen- or thirty-second ads are simply not long enough to engage the viewer or to provide the same depth of information that an embedded ad with detailed descriptions can.

Consumers will be willing to watch advertisements in exchange for free video content, however, they will be less likely to respond to ads without a dynamic element. Pre-roll currently saturates the online advertising market. If advertisers rejuvenate the existing model with interactive ads, they will appeal to savvy viewers who desire rich engagement. Interactive-roll should define the future way of attracting viewers.

Innovid's interactive pre-roll.