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4 Reasons Digital Audiences Don’t Completely Hate Pre-Roll YouTube Ads

By Rory Witt    |    January 30, 2017

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Remember the good old days of Internet advertising, before the rise of ad blockers?

Things sure were easier back then. Nowadays, it seems that pretty much every digital marketing tactic gets blocked by one browser add-on after another.

But before you rip your hair out in frustration, the rise of ad blockers doesn’t mean that all hope is lost for your digital advertising efforts. While these barriers against digital marketing probably aren’t going away anytime soon, there’s still one place where audiences don’t completely despise advertising: YouTube.

Yes, everyone’s favorite online video site is also one of the last bastions for semi-traditional advertising, thanks to the continuing success of pre-roll YouTube ads.

But what is it that keeps audiences from totally hating on this marketing method? There are a few things that stand out:

1) Video = Engagement

First, you can’t ignore the fact that video content—of any kind—continues to be far more engaging than other forms of marketing on the web. This isn’t just us spouting out some wishful thinking based on the fact that the majority of people are visual learners, either.

Nope, we’re going for the hard, cold statistics here. We’re naturally drawn to video content. It’s science!

Video allows you to tap into a wide range of emotionally engaging triggers. Viewers are able to feel an emotional connection to well-crafted video content. We want to be entertained.

Consider the fact that in one survey, 75% of online video consumers reported that they had “interacted” with a video ad during the past month. Or that 80% of consumers were able to remember the content of pre-roll video ads they had seen during that same time frame. That’s good. Actually, much better than other types of content.

There’s no beating around the bush. Pictures and infographics can be interesting. Standalone audio is fine. Text-only content…well, it depends on the audience. But when you put these elements together in a video, you’re taking things a step beyond.

At the end of the day, part of the reason that digital consumers don’t mind YouTube pre-roll ads that much is simply because of what they are—another visually stimulating video.

2) Relevancy

One of the digital age’s greatest boons to marketing in general is the dramatically improved demographic targeting capability offered by Google, Facebook, and other platforms.

YouTube is no different. (It’s owned by Google, so what would you expect)?

YouTube advertisers are able to tap into several key targeting options. Sure, you can use standard demographic information like age, income, or geographic location, but YouTube lets you dig deeper.

Like other Google marketing tools, YouTube actually provides you with audience categories that allow you to place your pre-roll ads based on specific audience interests.

You can focus on keywords. You can target broad or narrowly-defined topics (after all, there’s a difference between “Automotive” and “Pickup Trucks”). You can even go so far as to target specific channels or videos.

With so many targeting options available, you really don’t have any excuse to get it wrong. When you know who your main audience is and target your pre-roll ads appropriately, you’re far more likely to reach the people who are actually interested in your product or service.

People don’t mind being advertised to when your ad is relevant to their needs and interests. Because the general public is at least somewhat aware of targeted advertising, they expect to see pre-roll ads that are actually relevant to them when they watch a YouTube video—one less reason to hate.

3) You Can Skip!

This really shouldn’t come as a surprise, but part of the reason YouTube viewers don’t completely hate pre-roll ads is because they can be skipped after a mere five seconds.

Don’t like what you’re seeing? Just click away, and you can move on to your desired content! It’s much less intrusive than a full-length commercial break that comes on while you’re watching your favorite TV show.

Of course, while this makes the initial exposure to an advertisement feel much less inconvenient than traditional marketing methods, it serves as a double-edged sword. If your pre-roll ad isn’t engaging, your target audience will never stick around to hear what you’re trying to say.

4) A Creative Focus

How are you going to catch your audience’s attention in those crucial five seconds? Here’s a hint: not by simply using the exact same ad you used for TV.

Giving consumers the ability to skip ads has forced YouTube advertisers to get creative—and that’s not a bad thing.

Just take a look at the success Geico found with its “Unskippable” ad campaign. Geico didn’t just try to work around the five-second skip limitation—it made this feature a central focus of its marketing campaign, a quirky move that snagged viewers’ interest and kept them watching for the full 30 seconds.

Because of the potential for funny, creative content like Geico’s, digital audiences have become more willing to engage with YouTube pre-roll ads—but only if they are presented with something catchy and unique during those crucial first five seconds.

Don’t be afraid to try something out of the box. Find creative ways to hook your audience during the first five seconds of your pre-roll ad, and you’ll be well on your way to getting the results you want from your digital marketing efforts.

Don’t ignore technology differences, either. Watching videos on a smartphone isn’t the same as watching on a desktop. By tailoring and targeting your content to different devices, it can be even more impactful.

Show Me the Videos!

Now, just because you’ve managed to create a stellar YouTube pre-roll campaign doesn’t mean that you’re going to reach every person in your target audience. There are some people that wouldn’t turn off their ad blockers even if it meant putting a stop to the zombie apocalypse.

Thankfully, the success of your YouTube campaign pre-roll ads aren’t in their hands. As you produce relevant content that is specifically designed for a YouTube audience, you’ll catch viewers’ attention and drive new business to your brand.

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