How to take video beyond pre-roll

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Pre-rolls are basically the video equivalent of banner ads. Consumers complain about them, marketers agree that they're a necessary evil, yet they still comprise the vast majority of video campaigns. So what gives?

Well, for one thing, pre-roll is generally an inexpensive option for video advertisers. It's also easily measurable, and perhaps most importantly, it's a known entity. In many ways, pre-rolls have become synonymous with video advertising itself, and have become the de facto choice for brands looking to run this kind of ad campaign. Anything outside of this can feel like uncharted territory.

That said, pre-roll campaigns have some pretty significant drawbacks that make it worthwhile to explore other options. Most notably, they rely on an antiquated model of one-way communication, and their interruptive nature impedes the online experience. Then there's the question of brand safety. With a shortage of quality pre-roll inventory and a general lack of consumer engagement on many publisher sites, ad networks and other vendors are routinely forced to run campaigns on pirated sites or other questionable content in order to reach their viewership goals.

As I mentioned before, attempts to categorize anything outside of pre-roll can be problematic, but in this piece, I'm aiming to do just that. My hope is that it will start to shed some light on the vast array of possibilities for video advertisers.

Reward-based ads

Rewards-based video ads flip the traditional advertising paradigm on its head. Instead of foisting unwanted ads on consumers and interrupting their experiences, these ads allow viewers to opt-in to watching a video ad in exchange for a reward, like virtual currency in a casual game or ad-free music on a destination like Spotify or Pandora.

In addition to virtual currency and user control, reward-based ads address issues of relevancy aligned with old-school pre-rolls. Because they are targeted based on social profile data, these opt-in ads generate some of the highest completion and engagement rates in the industry. In fact, because these ads boast such high rates of completion, they're often used to deliver views for traditional pre-roll campaigns that haven't met their goals.

The bottom line is that the days when advertisers could bombard consumers with irrelevant or untimely interruptions are numbered. With reward-based ads, marketers can offer incentivized, well-targeted, non-interruptive videos that are respectful of the online experience.