Should You Use YouTube Pre-Roll Advertising?

Should You Use YouTube Pre-Roll Advertising?

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This article has been contributed by Seth Winterer.

In the evolving world of digital marketing, video advertising is the trend for 2020. Marketers are including video in their content marketing strategies at an increasing rate.

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I’m hear to tell you whether businesses should shift budgets to YouTube pre-roll advertising.

But what exactly are YouTube pre-roll ads? And, why is this ad type essential to modern marketing strategies?

What Are Pre-Roll Ads?

Odds are, even if you aren’t completely sure what a pre-roll ad is on YouTube, you’ve seen a few of them.

A pre-roll video ad is a promotional clip that plays before a selected video.

Pull up any video that’s getting traction on YouTube, and there’s a commercial at the beginning. You’ll have to watch it for about 5 seconds before the “Skip Ad” button appears.

Pre Roll Ads

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Like many types of advertising, pre-roll ads are interruptive. Businesses insert video ads either before or during a selected clip. This forces the audience to watch the ad before they can view the clip they selected. Abusing this annoys viewers and undermines marketing attempts and thus branding as well.

Marketers avoid this by taking two actions.

  • First, they choose the right target audience after research.
  • Next, they craft a message that answers questions or solves problems.

What Can I Use Pre-Roll Ads For?

We’ve all seen the marketing sales funnel. The end goal is a sale and a satisfied customer.  If you aren’t getting the results you hoped for, the cause could be your attention to the stages in this funnel.

Many businesses opt for marketing they believe will convert “right then”. Especially with complicated products and services, ads should begin at the top of the funnel. These are the ads to raise brand awareness and drive website traffic.

YouTube pre-roll ads make for a great addition to your “top of the funnel” marketing strategy. These short clips are able to raise awareness of your brand. They put the brand in front of potential customers and drive customers to your website.

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We can see in the charts below that pre-roll ads bring a solid lift in ad recall of around 20% after only 10 seconds. Brand awareness also sees a rise after only a few seconds. Purchase intent, however, remains low even after 30 seconds.

You Tube Pre Roll Out

By having a comprehensive marketing strategy in place, the viewer will behave in one of two ways. Either they will re-visit your site or see one of your re-marketing ads, and become a customer.

How to Create An Effective Pre-Roll Ad

You now understand what a pre-roll ad is and why it’s necessary for your marketing strategy. So, why aren’t more companies jumping at this opportunity?

For most companies, creating the video poses the biggest hurdle for pre-roll advertising.

You’ll want to create several videos with the purpose of pre-roll advertising in mind. You don’t have to get carried away with expensive video production. Your audience expects authenticity, but they also expect quality, as well.

Tips For YouTube Pre-Roll Success

Each pre-roll ad variability depends on the specific product or service offered. But, a few consistent benefits include:

  • Keep it short. 6 second bumpers are great, but you can also target 15 seconds or longer. Users want to see short ads so they can continue whatever they’re watching.
  • Highlight the main points of the problem your product or service solves. Inspire them with the benefits of your product or service.
  • Don’t make the kind of commercial that people think of as commercials.
  • Do something interesting and different. Copy other ads’ structure but not content.

You should also build the text ad and upload a 300×60 banner image with your pre-roll ad. This increases your chances of getting web traffic from your pre-roll ad.

Here are all the YouTube Advertising Formats

Targeting with YouTube Pre-Roll

The value of internet advertising is usually dependent on the quality of targeting. What audience would enjoy seeing your ads? And next, how can you get your ads in front of those people? Targeting. And, YouTube’s pre-roll targeting is pretty effective, aside from input user error.

You can target viewers by:

  • Geography
  • Language
  • Demographics
  • Re-targeting previous site visitors

You can select the regional limits, preferred language, age, gender, and income for your target audience. Pretty straightforward, right? The next three options are a little less cut-and-dry

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These include:

  • Keywords
  • Topics
  • Interests

Targeting With Keywords

Keyword targeting on YouTube mimics targeting Google’s search network ads. You have to know what kinds of videos your customers are likely to watch. This requires research. But, having a specific target audience brings big benefits. You’ll waste less money and convert more viewers.

Targeting with Keywords

Targeting With Topics

Think of topic targeting like keyword targeting. The topic range tells YouTube and Google where to place your ads on YouTube and on the Display network.

It’s a great place to narrow down your audience after you’ve established some relevant keywords. This is especially true for YouTube.

Targeting with Topics

For example, let’s assume that your company sells camera lenses. When you target by topic, you’d select Computers & Electronics. Then, select Computers & Electronics, and from there, select Camera and Photo Equipment.

YouTube gives marketers the ability to get super niche results.

Cost of Targeting With Topics

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YouTube bills for pre-roll ads on a cost-per-view bidding system. This billing system is standard, when it comes to Google AdWords.

You set an amount you are willing to pay every time someone views or clicks on your ad. We call this “cost per view” or CPV, for short.

You will only pay more than the second highest bidder, not your entire budget. For instance, if your CPV is $2 and you become the top bidder for that topic, your ad will display on that topic. If the next highest bidder bid $.35, YouTube will bill you for $.36.

Targeting With Interests

YouTube’s “Interests” and “Topics” categories are the same. The difference between the two is ‘now’ verus ‘usually’.  “Topics” represents what viewers are watching right now. “Interests” target viewers who usually watch videos of a certain topic. This happens even if the current video does not fall under the “Topics” section.

Targeting with Key Words

Let’s talk about the company that sells camera lenses, again. If a viewer watches videos or frequents Camera and Photo Equipment sites, they are a “Topic target”.

The same viewer has a friend who tells them to watch this hilarious dog clip they found. Our fictional camera company’s ad may still show. Why? They’ve targeted the viewer by “Interest”.

Targeting Exclusions

Adding exclusions can lower your pre-roll ad costs. If you don’t service a certain region, exclude that region.

Excluding locations or demographics will narrow your potential audience. But, the clicks and views are more likely to convert.

Targeting Exculsions

While traditional advertising outlets die out, pre-roll advertising is gaining traction. YouTube advertising gives marketers the ability to target their audience and save money.

Whilst these online-specific commercials do have the potential to be intrusive, if managed effectively, they’ll help you boost brand awareness and effectively grow the top of your funnel.


About the author: Seth Winterer is the CEO of Digital Logic.