YouTube Pre-Roll Ads – Why They’re Great For Your Brand (And Here’re The Best Tricks)

YouTube Pre-Roll Ads – Why They’re Great For Your Brand (And Here’re The Best Tricks)


We live in a time when there are thousands of ways to get your company seen. From traditional media to emerging online trends, there is, if anything, too much choice. But the savvy businessman will always end up finding the best platform for his advertising. And in our years as a professional video production company, we’ve determined that YouTube pre-roll ads are one of the most effective means to an advertising end.

Why does Flagship think YouTube pre-roll ads are great, and what even is a YouTube pre-roll ad? Those are two important questions, which need answers. We’ve done exactly this below:

What Is A YouTube Pre-Roll Ad?

You know what this is. It’s those video ads that play at the beginning of a YouTube video. Five seconds will play before you get the option to skip. The ads usually last longer than this though and tend to be around 20-30 seconds. They can include clickthroughs to your site and have all manner of customizations in terms of audience selection.

Many YouTube videos and yet to be uploaded video productions can be turned into pre-roll ads. The place to activate your video into an ad is in YouTube TrueView, which is in Google AdWords, where they’re technically called in stream ads (most people call them pre-roll though.)

YouTube has some video requirements that the video ads must meet, such as videos being of a certain quality, being free of adult content, being a clear promotion of your product and being free of copyright infringement. There’s no limit on an ad’s length, but realistically speaking you want your video ad to not last for an undue amount of time – the people watching your ad are there for the thing that plays afterward.

What Makes YouTube Pre-Roll Ads So Great?

There’s no one thing, per se, that makes a YouTube pre-roll video ad incredible. There are many. If you’re smart, you can make them heavily promote your product for next to no ad spend (more info on this later.) And they’re hugely customizable. Large companies are only just jumping on the bandwagon as far as pre-roll video ads are concerned, meaning that it’s still cheap.

One of the most effective demonstrations of how pre-roll ads are so good is by just thinking of your own experience with it. When someone clicks on a YouTube video, they really want to see it. It’s not like TV, where the viewer is looking at their phone most of the time. Very often your ad is playing on that phone! So you’ve got a five second window where your audience is glued to the screen, desperate for that video to start. Five seconds may not sound like much, but you can sell just about anything in that time. Five seconds lets you get the brand name out, show the product and show a promotion. If you’ve hooked the viewer longer, then you’ll get even more time to elaborate on that five second statement. If not, then you won’t have paid for that ad, as the viewer didn’t click through or watch all of the ad (yes, really!)

So you’re probably convinced that you want to try a pre-roll ad now, and considering that it can be really cheap, who can blame you? But you need to know a few handy tricks that will make a good pre-roll ad great. Yes, there are a few things that can turn your video production from something that’s selling a bit to selling a lot.

Here they are:

1: Make The Video Just Under 30 Seconds To Save Cash

Lots of companies are currently losing money on pre-roll advertising in a really stupid way: by making the video production end too soon after or too late after the skip mark. Say there’s a 10 second ad (which is actually a fairly common length for an ad), and the skip option comes up after five seconds. Many people will probably ignore that skip button and stick around for something as brief as an extra five seconds, meaning that you pay for the ad. But you could be saving tons on money by extending it to 29 seconds. The reason is simple: You only pay for the ad if the audience clicks or watches the whole thing (or more than 30 seconds, if it’s a long ad.) And people are much less likely to watch an ad for the whole 29+ seconds, so they’ll skip. That means you just got a free ad! That’s something that would costs tens of thousands of dollars on TV. Making your professional video ad just under 30 seconds to encourage skipping sounds like you’re cheating the system, but it really isn’t. Plenty of companies have taken advantage of this trick. One example is Eat 24, that based the entire visuals of its pre-roll video production around encouraging the audience to skip the ad. The result? A hugely successful and cost effective campaign!

2. Make A Great Video

Obvious, right? Wrong. You won’t believe how many companies skip this vital step. While you can make almost any video production on your YouTube page into a pre-roll ad, you should only select the right videos. Professional video is an art. It takes time to get it right. Even if you just want to produce something that shows your product in 10 seconds (even though Flagship recommends longer,) then you need to put a lot of thought into it. What are the best visuals? How will the editing promote your video in the right way? What aspects of sound design will make an impact? Will the color grade let it down? You need to ask all of these questions before you make your professional video, or it won’t be professional at all!

3. Finally – Experiment

One final note is to experiment! Once you’ve pinned down the right video for your pre-roll ad, it’s a matter of fine tuning the marketing, onscreen text, demographic targeting and much more. The good news is that, unlike other platforms, you can experiment without losing much money. Remember, you only pay when the audience clicks or doesn’t skip!