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Why You Should Be Investing in Youtube Pre-roll Ads

Why You Should Be Investing in Youtube Pre-roll Ads


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In a digital world filled with constant change and disruption, it’s essential to diversify your advertising strategy and keep ahead of the trend. Youtube pre-roll ads are the unlikely social/PPC cross-over swooping in to save the day from iOS14.

What are they?

Falling into the Google ads platform family, you might think of Youtube pre-roll ads as the attention-grabbing cousin who likes to make their voice heard as soon as they enter the room.

These short video advertising clips play before the Youtube content selected by the viewer. Monetisation must be enabled on the channel for the ad to be shown.

Two important recognisable features of Youtube pre-roll ads are:

  • A 5-second countdown before the ad becomes skippable, in the bottom left of the video player.
  • A call to action button on the bottom left-hand side of the video player. When this is clicked on, it opens up a landing page in another tab.

Youtube pre-roll ads represent the more ‘social’ side of Google advertising, as they stray away from a solely search-led strategy.

How do they work?

You can target Youtube pre-roll ads based on recent Google searches. For example, you might target people who have recently searched for ‘vegan-friendly recipes’ with your plant-based cheese substitute brand. However, that isn’t the limit to Youtube pre-roll ads’ application.

You can also target by demographic and location. Layer these with interests to create custom affinity audiences and in-market audiences. This feature makes the Youtube pre-roll format one of the most flexible in digital marketing.

By allowing you to choose specific types of videos to show your ads on, the format achieves maximum relevancy. For example, say your brand sells sportswear, you may choose to show your ads on fitness and workout videos.

Three Types

There are three types of Youtube pre-roll ads to be aware of. The first is skippable, which, as you probably guessed, the viewer can choose to skip on to the main content after the first five seconds of the ad. They tend to be around 30 seconds long in total.

Non-skippable ads tend to be a little shorter in total, around 15 to 20 seconds, but are not skippable. Both of these types of pre-roll ad operate on a pay-per-view model, counting on the viewer either watching the whole ad, at least 30 seconds, or clicking through to the landing page.

The final form, bumper ads, are 6 seconds in length and non-skippable. These are on a pay-per-1000-views model and are also usually used by national advertisers.

An example of an in-stream pre-roll ad.

Why use them?

Here are some quickfire stats to demonstrate the value of diversifying your digital marketing campaign into Youtube pre-roll ads.

  • According to Google themselves, paid YouTube mobile advertising is 84% more likely to receive viewers’ attention than TV advertising. (source)
  • Video performs well as an informative tool, educating an audience about the product or service you are providing. This helps to increase familiarity and trust. Amazon and eBay report that video ads increase the chances of a shopper buying that item by up to 35%.
  • Youtube is a multigenerational platform. We all know that kids and teens spend a lot of their time plugged in, but did you also know that 1 in 3 baby boomers go on YouTube to learn more about a product or service?

The Ingredients For Success:


Start small and scale up to optimise. Be patient with slow-starting performance. Test new audiences, ad creative, and matching landing pages. Be strategic about choosing your audiences; it’s important to remember that smaller audiences have a higher cost per view and

reach creative fatigue quicker than larger ones, in general.

An example of a discovery ad.

You should be separating your campaigns into in-stream and discovery ads, just as you would separate your Google AdWords campaigns into search and display. In-stream ads play before, during, or after a video while discovery ads appear alongside the video, in search results, or alongside recommended content. As a result, they have different kinds of impact.


Grab people’s attention in the first five seconds with catchy music, engaging visuals, and a strong value proposition. Do everything you can to prevent the viewer from skipping in the first five seconds.

Choose your format wisely; do your research and think about the specific purpose of your ad. Don’t be afraid to experiment in order to find your brand’s sweet spot.

With so much video content available and the option to skip, it’s essential to focus on producing high-quality video. Quality means engaging content that doesn’t feel like too much of a disruption to the consumer’s regular viewing, and may even enrich it. Appeal to their emotions, be that through comedy, pulling at their heartstrings, or introducing a relatable problem or experience.

Track the success of your creative by looking at these goals:

  • Attention – aim for a view rate of 25% or higher.
  • Interruption –  give the viewer a reason to pause and divert their attention.
  • Interest – aim for an average watch time of 20 sec. per impression.
  • Desire – aim for a CTR of +0.80% for prospecting.
  • Action – aim for a ROAS of 1.0 or greater for prospecting

Get in Early

Following the changes and volatility that iOS 14 caused for Facebook advertising, strategic marketing diversification is more important than ever.

Youtube’s potential to be a part of this is huge. Longer video format hosted by a channel that provides potential for engagement with an entirely new prospecting audience will pay dividends. Get in before it’s old news.

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