From iMedia -
Pre-roll was a bad idea from the start. It was lazy traditional thinking encroaching on an innovative medium. Here's why.
Online pre-roll video is dead. Okay, maybe not dead, but it has checked into a roach motel. Wow, did we screw this one up. All of us. I have received a lot of calls lately from media properties talking about all the extra inventory they have for pre-roll. And the prices dropped again! Wow, isn't that great? I'm reminded of something a friend told me once when we saw a sales sign in a shop window: "2 for 1 Suits." He said: "If they really wanted to screw you, they'd give you three of them."
You see, it's not just about the cost. So what happened? Numerous things, but they boil down to five points:
1. How the client end is managing the buy
2. How it is measured
3. Ad content
4. Ad content plasticity
5. Consumer tolerance
Now, you may be sitting there reading this and thinking I'm insane and that your programs are great, but I'll just tackle those points and let you make up your own mind. Oh hell, no I won't, I'm right, just listen. I can sum up all five points easily.
Who is managing: A lot of companies made their initial foray into pre-roll through the traditional side of their business; their offline agency trying to encroach on digital. They had the commercial assets and weren't giving them up easily. "Hey, we can use the television commercial and just put it in front of content online." Done.
How it's measured: How are you going to measure it? "Oh, it's about branding." Pa-lease. As I've said before, if you are not going to measure, and it exists online, don't do it. At least measure the branding impact if you're going to use that cop-out. Dynamic Logic, ever heard of it? And if not that, then Insight Express? Cookie viewers and measure post-view to your site over a week, and then pop your own survey to those that were cookied -- 'cause trust me, if they didn't come within a week, it didn't do your brand any good. And that's where the shift happened. The buys shifted to those who were controlling the online media plan -- the ROI side of things. Once you remove the "branding" escape clause, for many people it just didn't make sense.
Ad content: Let's face it, the ad content sucked. And for the most part, it never got better. Developing web-specific video content is still expensive. Agencies haven't figured out how to do guerilla production, and they charge too much. The time frames take longer to create, and then you have SAG or some other rights agency sucking out more of the budget. It's fine when you're spending millions in TV but absolutely nightmarish for online. Unless it is going to be a massive ongoing effort, the cost benefit analysis just doesn't work. So what do you? You slap that 15-second spot up and call it a day.