Trendspotting: YouTube's 'skip' icon on pre-roll ads poses big challenge for brands

While brands today are rigorously using video sites like YouTube to advertise, they haven't been able to prevent viewers from altogether skip-ing these ads. We explore how something so widely despised by audiences can be useful to marketers

e4m by Ankur Singh
Updated: Jun 10, 2015 8:09 AM
Trendspotting: YouTube's 'skip' icon on pre-roll ads poses big challenge for brands

For every netizen, disruptive pre-roll clips on YouTube have become a nuisance to the extent that the ‘skip’ option has become their best internet tool. While brands today are rigorously using video sites like YouTube to advertise, they haven’t been able to prevent viewers from altogether skip-ing these ads.

Today, almost every video on YouTube has a pre roll ad, which viewers simply hate. Content creators are increasingly noticing how important YouTube’s pre-roll format is for determining which brands are successfully connecting with their customers and which brands are falling behind.

According to market reports, approximately 94 percent of people skip pre-roll ads after that five-second mark. And, this knowledge has been omnipresent for quite some time now. It makes one wonder how brands are working towards transforming their content to capture the lost attention. How can something so widely despised by audiences be useful to marketers?

Creating relevance

According to an eMarketer report, much of the time audiences spend with digital video in general is not useful for advertisers, such as clips that are either too short to include ads or not brand friendly, and both are attributes of many user-generated YouTube videos that get the most views.

“Brands have been using the data to attach irrelevant ads to the platform’s most popular content. The majority of these commercials hope to catch someone’s attention, but the content rarely connects with the viewer’s actual interests in that moment,” the report said.

Interactive is key

According to an analysis released in March 2015 by Innovid, interactive pre-roll video ads outperformed standard pre-roll across all metrics throughout 2014.

According to Innovid, the average user watched 84.3 per cent of an interactive ad, versus 79.4 per cent for standard video pre-roll. Awareness was also higher for interactive video ads, at 31 per cent, versus 12.5 per cent for pre-roll units. Standard pre-roll was better for one thing, though: clickthroughs. “Overall, online interactive pre-roll video ads worldwide had an average engagement rate of 2.8 per cent last year. This was even higher for longer ads, with 30-second spots seeing an engagement rate of 3 per cent.”

According to data released by Sizmek, based on impressions served worldwide in 2014 via the Sizmek platform, interaction rate for interactive video was 3.6 per cent.

Social video wonder

It is evident that content creators are using technology and social to breathe new life into the pre-roll ad space. The idea that brands can create video content designed to be consumed and shared on the social web has won itself many supporters. Every day more brands move past the interruptive model of pre-roll and toward a broader, more engaging strategy that includes longer clips using units with built-in sharing capabilities - so much so that global spending on social video campaigns is expected to hit $10 billion by 2015.

Rather than hijacking viewers’ content, social video advertising instead puts the emphasis on the advertiser to come up with a piece of content that consumers choose to watch and share with their networks.

According to a study done by research firm MetrixLab, which tested a commercial for a well-known consumer tech brand, social video ad viewers are more likely to buy a product and recall a brand's message than those who viewed the same clip as a pre-roll, resulting in higher purchase intent.

According to the study, there was an uplift of 28 per cent in likelihood to purchase among social video viewers versus those who watched the clip through pre-roll.

Of those who had seen pre-roll ads, 94 per cent had skipped them, and 52 per cent said they did so frequently. 39 per cent more respondents who watched the ad through social video were likely to share the clip than those exposed to pre-roll.

Indian brands Vs Global brands

Indian brands are yet to get a hang of new ways to approach pre-roll ads, but global brands have begun addressing this issue with some gusto.

Foreign brands are already experimenting with technology and creativity to hold consumer attention for long, or send the message across in 5 seconds—before the ‘skip’ feature activates.

Burger King made a mockery of the ‘skip’ option itself and launched a pre-roll ad around consumers irritation around the feature.
Other brands like Geico and Opel have done some creative things around their pre-roll ads too.

However, unless content creators do not think outside the box, pre-roll videos will probably continue to struggle to some degree because of their ‘skip’ feature. Indian brands really need to buckle up and up the ante on skippable ads with a focus on creativity, technology, and relevancy. With digital ad platforms evolving by the day, even that might not be enough in the long run!

For more updates, be socially connected with us on
WhatsApp, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Youtube