Pre-Roll Advertising: Small Businesses Do It Better / Branding / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Pre-roll ads on their own are pretty efficient, but when you combine them with hyperlocal targeting, you can reach marketing nirvana.

When it comes to video marketing, the question for marketers is no longer “Should I be doing this?” Now, it’s “How do I do this the right way?” According to Syndacast, almost three-fourths of internet traffic in 2017 will be video. This means that if you’re not reaching consumers with video, you’re probably not reaching them at all.

But how about that second question?

Right now, video marketing starts with pre-roll. Advertisers favor pre-roll ads three times as much as the next most preferred video format. That makes sense because consumers seem to like them, too. Three out of four people will watch a short ad, from start to finish, that runs before their video.

Pre-roll ads on their own are pretty efficient, but when you combine them with hyperlocal targeting, you can reach marketing nirvana.

How to Unleash the Power of Targeted Pre-Roll

In discussions about online advertising (I have lots of these), I often hear people say, “I always skip those ads.” I ask them what types of ads they’re referring to, and they usually mention a video from Progressive, Geico, or another major brand.

But then I start digging.

I ask something like “What would you do if the video were your favorite local restaurant or clothing shop instead? What if they were offering a discount?” They almost always tell me they’d be interested in learning more if the video were from a local establishment that they recognized.

This is the power of pre-roll advertising combined with local targeting. Average click-through rates skyrocket!

However, if you want to harness this immense power, there are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Viewers want quality and creativity.

There are so many video ads out there, but that doesn’t mean we have to watch them all. A recent survey by Verizon Digital Media Services found that consumers won’t watch low-quality videos. Nobody has time for that.

This means that if you’re thinking about making a commercial, put away your iPhone. You need to be willing to invest in production quality. But don’t just put money into it; put some serious thought into it as well. After all, your video is an extension of your brand.

German carmaker Opel took the road less traveled in its video marketing campaign for its compact SUV, the Mokka. Instead of wishing the “Skip Ad” button that typically appears on pre-roll ads on YouTube would just go away, Opel made the button a part of its campaign. Miniature Mokkas ran over it, swerved around it, and even crashed into it. About 2.5 million people found the ads unskippable.

2. Stay focused, and test, test, test.

When thinking about what to include in your video, focus on one key element of your business and target a specific audience. For example, if you own a gym, you might create a commercial that features a yoga class and target yogis. Test that against a commercial that focuses on your weightlifting options and targets men and women who are health-conscious and purchase workout supplements.

Recently, my company, Lemonlight Media, made a video for a local restaurant, Chicago Oyster House. It was a brand-awareness effort and focused on one thing that everyone loves: happy hour. We were able to hypertarget audiences that were looking for seafood recipes and restaurants nearby, and we were thrilled with the results.

The video had a view-through rate of about 63 percent on skippable ads. Plus, our client was able to link a significant increase in happy hour attendees to the video ads.

Be open-minded, and test a number of different campaigns. I’ve found that we’re always surprised by the way viewers respond to ads. Sometimes, the ads we’re less confident in perform the best and vice versa. You should have goals for a variety of metrics, such as impressions, views, clicks, click-through rate and view-through rate. Keeping track of these numbers will give you an idea of what to expect the next time you try video marketing.

3. Know what you’re trying to accomplish.

Before you make your video, be sure you understand what the objective is. Is your ultimate business goal more achievable through a direct response campaign (focused on clicks) or a brand awareness campaign (focused on views)?

If you’re giving away a free pizza, for example, you may have a lot of success with a direct response campaign. This is because people are willing to buy and eat pizza at pretty much any time. However, if you’re an interior designer, you may want to focus on generating brand awareness. Your goal should be to run your ads as much as possible in front of your target audience so when the time comes to hire an interior designer, you’re top of mind.

You could also use a combination strategy. For instance, you could invest most of your budget in creating video ads that generate conversions but continue to reserve some for brand awareness messages that you can place in front of your target audiences on Facebook and Instagram.

At the end of the day, you have to know where you want to go in order to get there. Keep track of the metrics, make adjustments based on the feedback you get from audiences and keep improving. One day, you’ll be making video ads that people can’t get enough of.

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