Any Way You Roll It, Native Wins

On 24/10/2018 by Araceli Almada

As media consumption habits change, so does the way we advertise. The decline in television ad sales - a previous go-to for big brands - is the latest example, as over 9 in 10 users today watch video content on their mobiles, tablets, or desktops. Unlike television advertising, companies on the web are looking to find innovative mediums to best reach hyper-connected consumers. While predicting the future may be impossible, there is one thing to hedge your bet on: if you want to boost sales, you need online video storytelling.

Video advertising comes in different shapes and sizes, with distinctive features and options. A main point of discussion, however, is determining the best placement to deliver online video ads. Two mediums taking center stage in that discussion are pre-roll and native video. 

Which one best improves your branding and performance objectives in a world where consumers increasingly want to avoid interruption? 

Pre-Roll - The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Pre-roll video generally takes form as 30-second commercials, akin to TV ads. In similar function, they play before the viewer can watch their intended content. While designed to build awareness for leads, pre-rolls are limited in inventory to streaming sites and video players. With that said, not all pre-rolls are the same. YouTube give users the option to skip pre-roll ads after 5 seconds in order to limit its disruptive form and allow faster access to intended content. In observing the YouTube model as a classic example for pre-roll, the good news for advertisers is that they don’t pay for their ad until a user watches its entirety. The ‘good’ news for users is that they must only endure those 5 seconds until they can skip ahead. It may seem practical to run a pre-roll because either type (skippable or unskippable) will generate an impression for brand recall, and to that effect, be effective as it mirrors the television experience.

Pre-roll has its place, but it comes with several fallouts as it forces itself onto Internet users. The bad news for users is that pre-roll’s disruptive nature makes them feel captive before being able to take action. By extension, the bad news for advertisers is a negative brand image and more. This format doesn’t consider the user’s online experience nor interest, given that 65% of people skip pre-rolls, according to IPG. Skipping has become such a part of online culture that it’s sometimes used as a punchline by brands within their pre-roll, asking the viewer to hold off from clicking on that notorious ‘skip’ button. Brands can become so preoccupied with trying to not disturb the user experience that their message loses association and impact. Rather than elicit a positive emotional response, the interruption of pre-roll has led to ad avoidance and low emotional appeal, and a drastic increase in adblock installs

Then, the ugly: these in-stream ads are a big liability to brand safety. Just take note of Mars, Adidas, and Deutsche Bank (among many others) that suspended their YouTube campaigns because their ads were served within controversial or inappropriate content. 

Native Makes It Worth Watching 

Native ads have become a very influential trend in recent years, and is deservingly gaining momentum with video solutions. Whereas pre-roll mirrors the television experience, native matches the form and function of the user experience. This medium drives brand awareness, but more importantly, is not openly promotional. It harnesses the power of informative, entertaining, and interactive content to engage with audiences and elicit action. In being truly native, the length of video is short to better capture user attention given the average user attention span of 8 seconds. Rather than play out like TV commercials - interjecting themselves between the user and their intended content - native videos blend seamlessly with the look and feel of their environment to be similar to organic content. 

Native video offers numerous ways of flexibility compared to pre-roll. There is the freedom to be creative in presenting a story as opposed to being product or sales-oriented. The combination of informative and entertaining storytelling makes native more engaging and shareable among viewers, expanding your reach across video platforms, social media and content recommendation networks. In a digital world full of distraction and endless noise, native ads are non-intrusive by giving users the control, not the ad. In turn, native preserves publisher credibility among users while protecting brand reputation

Case in Point

Both native and pre-roll options are effective in promoting brand awareness, but the difference is that native tends to do it better. According to Giant Media, the general cost-per-view for native video is between 20-25 cents, whereas the cost-per-view for pre-roll is between 10-12 cents. As the cost is essentially twice as more, native would have to drive twice the ROI for it to maintain its value - and that it does. Native video generates a substantially larger click-through rate (5-8%) than its rival pre-roll (0.5-1%). Pre-roll may be better for its frequency to generate top-of-funnel leads, but native is superior for its reach and keeps those funnel leads flowing to be converted into consumers. A Nielsen study shows pre-roll generates roughly 2.1% brand lift for advertisers, whereas native video measures at an astounding 82%. It shows the dominance of one format over the other, harnessing the power of the user experience

Today’s advertising isn’t about forcing customers to buy a product, but rather about how to find meaningful ways to engage with them. Pre-roll simply no longer fits the bill of the modern consumer, and as native video continues to excel, it’s time brands fit themselves within today’s digital video marketplace to realize branding and performance results. 

Our short-form native ads provide a powerful and interactive way to boost the longer story with your audience and spur action. Contact us to find out how we can help you use Ligatus Motion to tell your story with video.