Pre-rolls that rock

A Yahoo! survey recently showed that, of all the ad formats, pre-rolls were the most tolerable. But a 22% acceptance rate is hardly the stuff of a marketer’s dreams, especially when (estimates seem to vary, but) up to 94% of people skip them altogether.

What’s a video advertiser to do?

In our Ads We Didn’t Skip series, we’re exploring pre-roll ads we actually watched — and why. So far, what’s intrigued us is any number of random things: interesting music, a distinctive look, the promise of a tear-jerker, or a Mature 17+ ESRB rating.

Lately though, we’ve noticed more advertisers having more fun with pre-rolls, to great effect. They’re playing with the format, subverting it, getting all meta on it, making the most of the technology, even embracing the hate. Also: kittens.

Here are a few examples of some pre-roll ads that have kept people watching, and buzzing.

Using geo-targeting to find missing persons

The Australian Federal Police used geo-targeting in “The Missing Persons Pre-roll” campaign. A missing person alert ran in the location the person was last seen, asking the viewer “Have you seen this person?” The skip button was modified to “Yes I have” and “No I haven’t.” In five days, the campaign got 1.2 million views and 238 “Yes I have” clicks, which took people to a form they could complete to provide details.

“This video has been removed by the user.”

A divorce law firm reminds people “Divorce happens” by enticing you with what appears to be a couple’s wedding/honeymoon/anniversary video, only to be met with the rude awakening that, on YouTube, as in life, shit happens. But keep watching …

See all three.

Burger King hates pre-rolls too

What happens when your target is young guys, and you know YouTube ads are a great way to reach your target, but your target hates them? Burger King went for it, unleashing 64 pre-rolls starring two actors who hate pre-rolls as much as the guy just trying to watch his screaming goat video.

Let us skip our ad for you

The Beetle introduced in Brazil had two important new features: it automatically changed gears, and it skipped the ad for you. In a merciful 5 seconds, viewers got the message, then were moved along to the video they’d come for, without even having to click.

Or we encourage you to skip it yourself

Eat24, a food-delivery app, actually urged people to skip its ad. To its surprise, 91% of viewers completed the ad, with a 7.1% click-through rate, and 75% more downloads while the campaign ran.


UK job site Reed lures you with the oldest trick in the book: a box full of kittens. Well played, Reed.

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