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Online Video Advertising formats – banner video and in banner video vs. pre roll

Carlfred Giles - Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ahh, the great debate. What form of online video advertising is more valuable or effective – pre-roll or video banner/in banner video?

Let’s first define the two formats.:

Sample in-banner video ad

In-banner is an actual banner ad (generally 300×250 pixels) that is a video player, that is, something not unlike an embed YouTube video which requires a push to play (very few publishers will allow auto-play videos to load on a page.)

Pre-roll is the :15 or :30 second video ads that play before a piece of video content. Hulu is making these famous, an example of which we’ve posted below:

Let’s explore the measurable elements of any advertising asset and score points for one or the other.

1. Click-through

Both in-banner video ads and pre-roll require that a viewer push “play” to engage the ad. This presents a unique challenge and/or opportunity for video ads, in that static banner ads require one click to be redirected to the advertisers’ site. With video ads, regardless of format, there is a “two click” conversion required – first, clicking to watch the video, and second, clicking from the ad to the advertisers site.

Rarely are pre-roll ads “interactive”, in that they can actually present a viewer the ability to click to a website being advertised in the ad. In-banner video ads, on the other hand, can easily use interactive elements to allow for real time clicking to a third party site.

1 point for in-banner ads

2. Impression value

Pre-roll ads are the first thing a viewer sees when they push play on a video player. They are priced higher then standard banner ads because there really is no waste – an impression is delivered and odds are the viewer sees the ad every time.

In-banner video ads, on the other hand, are charge on an impression basis just like standard banner ads – meaning each time the page is loaded, an impression is delivered. The banner could be below the fold and never displayed to the viewer, and an impression will be cannibalized. This creates waste and potentially a lot fewer views relative to impressions.

1 point for pre-roll

3. Engagement

A video banner can be highly engaging but can also be poorly executed – it really depends on the content. Most studies (including one by Forrester Research) show that pre-roll ads are generally annoying to viewers, and most would rather not have to sit through them. They didn’t “choose” to view the ad (they choose to view the video content) whereas a viewer would actually “choose” to view an in-banner ad simply by pressing play. Click-thru rates on pre-roll ads are down, suggesting that viewers are perhaps tiring of them and they way they are used.

Another intangible is the notion that viewers clicking on in-banner video ads don’t actually realize what they are clicking is in fact an advertisement. Using this line of thinking, in-banner video ads actually “sneak up” on the viewer, and could wow them if done well, or really upset them.

We call a tie on this one – 1 point to each

4. Pricing

We’ve seen pre-roll ad CPMs as high as $50. In-banner video ads can be delivered at the same rates as traditional banner ads. They don’t require a publisher to be set up with an ad network that delivers pre-roll; in most cases you could even just use a YouTube player as your in-banner asset (though not recommended for branding purposes.)

Compare an average pre-roll CPM of around $20-$25 to a in-banner of around $5-$10, and clearly there’s an affordability factor at play. Again, you have the potential waste of impressions with in-banner vs almost all pre-roll ads being seen for at least a few seconds (great return on your per-impression spend), so we’ll give the edge to pre-roll on this one.

1 point pre-roll

Final score: Pre-roll 3, in-banner video 2.

At Zpop Media, we work only with in banner video ads, so there’s no stuffing the box here. Our perspective on this subject may change, but perhaps this is why, in a study done by YuMe video advertising network, 96.2% of all online video ads served from Jan-Nov 2009 were pre-roll, while only 0.1% were in banner.

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