What is pre roll advertising? Tips for improving

What is pre roll advertising?

If you’re like most people, the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “pre-roll” is an ad before a video. But what exactly does it mean and how can it help your business?

To understand what pre-roll advertising means and why it’s effective for your business, we need to follow this blog and take a look at the history of this marketing strategy.

What is pre roll advertising?

A pre-roll advertisement is a video ad that plays before whatever video you are about to watch. For instance, if I wanted to watch a clip from The Colbert Report on Comedy Central’s site , I would have to sit through a commercial first.

Pre-roll advertisements can also be known as “pre-roll video ads,” “pre-roll commercials,” and “pre-roll video commercials.”

Why should I run a pre-roll advertisement?

Online preroll advertisements are a video ad that starts playing before the content of a website. These videos allow viewers to click away from it or watch before they can get to your competitor’s site.

Because there is a compulsory 2-3 minute delay for viewers, this advertisement enables advertisers to communicate effectively with their potential customers, increasing brand awareness and maximizing conversions.

In addition, companies that invest in online prerolling ads get direct access to high quality traffic which has been broken up into relevant segments based on behavior.

Common platform options for pre-roll advertisements


The use of pre-roll advertisements on YouTube is sporadic. But some companies are using the platform as their main form of advertisement. They are using YouTube because it brings them the targeted audience they want.

Common platform options for pre-roll advertisements
Common platform options for pre-roll advertisements

Advertising on YouTube is very easy to put in place. However, companies should be wary of using advertising that is too long or too short. Companies must use an ad that fits with their platform and does not drive away viewers for being too long or abrupt in advertisement placement.

The optimal length for a video pre-roll advertisement is 15 seconds. This will allow enough time for viewer engagement while still delivering the message companies are trying to get across.


Twitter allows advertisers to put their ads at the start of a video on Twitter, as soon as it begins playing. The pre-roll advertisement can be up to six seconds long. This is a perfect place to advertise what is coming up next on your channel and you can even include an ad at the end of the video as well.


Facebook has a similar type of advertising that is geared towards social media. Facebook’s push into monetizing its platform along with a more native style of video, have created more opportunities for advertisers and publishers alike. A six-second pre-roll advertises opportunity is also available on Facebook.


Vimeo offers a cost per view model for pre roll advertising, which means the advertiser only pays when the ad is clicked. Vimeo automatically puts in place video and monetization settings to match what you’ve selected (for example, age-restricted versus non-age restricted).

Pre roll ads on Vimeo are tagged with your brand name and logo by default, but if you’d prefer not to have this branding included we can discuss that too. There’s no minimum for pre roll ads either: you could run one video as a pre roll or 1 million videos—the choice is up to you. You also decide how long the ad will play before your video starts playing.

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What do the best pre-roll ads have in common?

Pack the first 5 seconds – Be Mindful of Your Consumer’s Attention

Pack the first 5 seconds with valuable information.

The goal of a video ad is to get someone interested in watching more, or buying your product.

Trying to sell too quickly will result in the viewer either closing out of the ad, or skipping ahead to try and find something that interests them. Instead, allow them five seconds to see what you’re selling, then explain why they need it, and provide some proof.

They’ve mastered targeting and retargeting

Retargeting allows advertisers to reach the specific audiences who have already engaged with their content. For example, if you’ve watched an ad or visited a brand’s website, then that brand can retarget you to reengage with your interest.

What is pre roll advertising? Tips for improving
What is pre roll advertising? Tips for improving

If the appeal of these ads is enough to compel viewers to engage initially, then it makes sense for brands to continue delivering messaging until they are sure the viewer is convinced.

They focus on providing value

A lot of people are turned off by ads because they want to be entertained, not marketed. You can provide real value without mentioning your product or service – just think about how many videos on Facebook have gone viral for their humorous nature rather than having any actual correlation with what the company is trying sell!

They direct prospects to a corresponding post-click landing page

If you want to make sure your prospective customers don’t leave before they’ve signed up, provide them with a free trial offer.

Send them directly from their browser window or mobile device onto an exclusive landing page where only leads can complete the form and receive access for life-time value of money spent on this website!

Be creative by using social media channels like Facebook Messenger as another option – it will reach more people who may have already seen ads elsewhere but not clicked through yet because these apps show no popups that way.

Add pre-roll to your marketing strategy

Are you looking to increase your ad recall, brand awareness and purchase intent? Increase the effectiveness of pre-roll ads by leveraging short content that is engaging.

Refer Instapage’s Digital Advertising Ad Specs Guide for up to date information on targeting options with all sorts of formats like banners or videos.

To optimize post click stage it’s best practice complete this part in tandem through their powerful platform – I called them “the most robust” because they offer dedicated landing pages at scale!

Ready to turn more ad clicks into conversions?

Pre-roll video ads give you an edge by putting your message in front of customers as soon as they hit play on a video — before the clip’s main content starts to play. Compared with mid-roll or post-roll advertising, pre-roll is proven to offer better view rates and completion rates.

Plus, it allows for more brand recall with viewers who don’t make it all the way through the content before clicking away.

What’s The Best Way to Leverage Pre-Roll Ads?

Get Your Brand’s Message In Early

Since pre-roll ads are at the beginning of your video, there’s an effortless way to get their message in early: utilize the first 5-10 seconds.

If you do this, not only will it make it easier for users to keep watching but you’ll likely be reaching viewers who aren’t yet committed to your brand.

This means they’re not already vested enough to pay attention through your entire ad (which can be up to 30 seconds), which makes them easier targets for conversion.

Even if the viewer only watches the first 10% of your ad or trailer, that’s still enough time to spark intrigue and deliver your message effectively.

When you create a hook at the very beginning of your ad, any positive emotions that viewers experience will be associated with your brand.

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This means they’ll carry those feelings along with them for the rest of their day, which can give you a significant edge over competitors right out of the gate.

Utilize Hooks

Sweeney advised pre-roll ads should be focused on raising brand awareness, but depending on the context it may be appropriate to include a call to action. However Chmouni suggested that when doing so one needs “to make your ad valuable and actionable.”

With limited time in front of viewer you must focus more heavily then ever before if trying get them interested enough with content designed specifically for this purpose; using hooks such as special offers or teasers are great ways accomplish just this goal

What to Avoid When Implementing Pre-Roll Ads?

There are some simple guidelines to follow to ensure that your pre-roll ads are effective. If you don’t follow these guidelines, you will make the video less useful for the viewer and may ultimately scare them away from watching any more of your videos.

For instance, don’t run excessive pre-roll ads on a particular page/video or for a certain period of time. This may make you money right away, but it is likely to reduce overall views and discourage viewers from watching more videos.

You should also avoid using deceptive language when promoting pre-roll ads. For example, saying that the video/page “includes no pre-rolls” or “no annoying commercials” when, in fact, it does contain pre-rolls is illegal. It’s not just unethical; it’s also illegal and can result in serious penalties for your business.

How to engage users with pre-roll ads on mobile

Pre-roll ads don’t perform as well on mobile as they do on desktop because of user behavior differences. On desktop users watch until the first few seconds of an ad unless they find it really interesting or engaging which means many publishers might see close to 100% completions.

How to engage users with pre-roll ads on mobile
How to engage users with pre-roll ads on mobile

But when watching full screen video on a smaller smartphone screen, users tend to engage selectively with the content by advancing through to get to what they were seeking—leaving many pre-roll ads partially watched or not watched at all.

On mobile, you can’t control user behavior in the same way. Everyone has a different approach based on their own needs for that moment in time—definitely another reason why marketers are experimenting with this ad type.

How to avoid users skipping pre-roll ads

Be up front

Skip ads are a bad experience, so it’s crucial to convey your message and include the CTA early on. If you don’t hook someone within 6 seconds of their screen flipping onto yours then they’ll likely forget about what was happening before that point- after all – there is no time like the present!

We know users these days not only have high skepticism but also fast reaction times; which means making an impression with something unexpected can be just what’s needed for success today more than ever before.

So strike while those clocks tick by giving them something memorable instead— nobody wants one long advertisement where nothing happens other than sound (well maybe some background music).

Behavioural Targeting

Pre-roll ads are a great way to target potential customers and convince them that your product is worth buying. When someone watches an ad, it can be hard for other companies or products in the same space because viewers will compare what they see with their own preferences which gives you more of an advantage if done right!

With cookies and other tracking methods available these days it’s easy enough to retarget pre roll videos based on how receptive people were when shown one earlier at any given time: just remember not overdo things by showing too many repetitive clips otherwise this could reflect poorly upon both brand loyalty as well as profits made off advertising income generated from said.

Make exciting creatives

It’s hard to compete with all of the other pre-roll ads on YouTube, but you can be more successful by focusing your attention span early.

The first few seconds are what make or break whether viewers will remain engaged for any length of time; it is crucial that we capture this window as much like an entertainment show would do before diving into content people want (in this case whatever video was selected).

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Studies have shown surprise factor increases one’s retention rate when compared against regular adverts–so if someone else has popped up unexpectedly while watching their favourite TV series then there’ll probably at least some spontaneity left behind in both voiceover lines and visuals!

Be emotional

If a user is in a good mood, pre-roll ads will have a positive effect on click-through rates. If the user is in a bad mood, then it’s just going to be annoying and their click-through rates are going to be low. But if you can use an advertisement that elicits an emotional response from the consumer in a good way, then they’re going to be more interested in what you have to say.

Experiment with different lengths and offers

Keep your pre-roll videos short. The vast majority of consumers prefer not to watch long ads, and this is especially true for online video ads where you can’t control the viewing environment like you can in a living room.

According to Millward Brown Digital’s annual Video Ad Effectiveness Study , 79% of viewers who watched a pre-roll ad would rather wait until it’s over than view another one.


How do pre-roll ads work?

A pre-roll ad is a digital video advertisement that appears before the main content of a web page or internet stream. The Pre-roll ad can also appear at the front of a video podcast on YouTube, for example.

In many cases, the pre-roll ad appears before viewer has finished loading the main content. It may take as long as 30 seconds for some users to load a website. That’s an eternity in online time and it gives advertisers plenty of time to capture your attention with their message.

Unlike mid roll ads which only appear every 20 minutes on average, you can’t skip pre roll ads! Once those 10 or 15 seconds are up, you have to watch the ad whether you like it or not unless you leave the site or close your browser.

What is Midroll advertising?

Midroll is an advertising company that allows advertisers to buy airtime on popular podcasts. Midroll represents hundreds of partners who produce podcasts, and negotiates ad sales on their behalf. Midroll currently has relationships with more than 300 advertiser brands including many direct response advertisers like, Harry’s razors, Casper, TripAdvisor, and ZipRecruiter.

What is pre-roll and mid-roll ads?

Pre-roll ads play the moment you go to a particular website and is standard for most websites with videos. A mid-roll ad, on the other hand, plays in the middle of a video.

However, if viewers click on it by accident, they are taken to another page where they can watch more videos until they return voluntarily or not to complete watching the 50 second pre-roll ad.

Mid-roll ads have better engagement rates compared to pre-roll ads because people get annoyed when they get interrupted by an ad while watching a long form content so naturally these kinds of advertisements have low view through time rates.

Also it gives marketers an opportunity to monetize content over multiple platforms which allows them to increase the number of advertisements they show.


Pre-roll ads are short video advertisements that play before the start of a full length online video. They can be seen on many websites, including YouTube and Facebook.

The pre-roll advertising format has grown in popularity because it is an effective way to reach consumers who would otherwise never see your ad or content due to skipping past them quickly with the help of what’s called “ad blindness.”

This means viewers have become so used to scrolling through these smaller videos without paying attention, they don’t notice when one starts playing.

These types of ads also allow you to create more personalized messages for specific audiences since advertisers know exactly which demographic will be viewing their message at any given time.

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