For advertisers who make use of YouTube’s TrueView service, watch time is both a vital and rare resource. The latest company gaming the pre-roll system in search of viewer engagement is Nail Communications, an ad agency that has seen strong returns with a deceptive pre-roll ad.
Research suggests that viewers are more likely to remember an ad if they view it to completion, so advertisers have figured out a number of anti-skipping strategies. Some pre-roll ads front-load content into the first five seconds in order to reel in viewers before they have the option to skip. Other advertisers, such as Burger King and ESPN, create custom pre-roll ads catered to specific YouTube categories. A recent pre-roll ad from Beachbody took the most deceptive path of all by dressing up relevant links to make them look like parts of YouTube’s pre-roll user interface.
Nail’s ad uses all three of those strategies. It opens by showing a cute puppy that has been strapped to jumper cables, drawing in the viewer. It then proceeds with a self-aware monologue about pre-roll ads. In the bottom right corner, the jumper cables attach to a “Skip This Ad” box, thus making the line between the video and YouTube’s ad interface unclear. It also features a charity appeal: If we don’t skip the ad, Nail’s spokesman tells us, the company will donate 50 cents to the ASPCA.
Pre-roll playfulness is fun and refreshing, but does it actually cause more viewers to stick around to the end of the ad? Nail thinks so. It told Adweek that the video got a view rate of 18%, which is three times the 6% view rate cited as average. [Editor’s Note: Nail got in touch with us via Twitter since this story posted to say the completion rate for the pre-roll ad was 26% by the end of the campaign.] At the same time, other reports have placed the average view rate between 15 and 20%, which would put Nail’s ad right in line with the average.
No matter which of these conflicting metrics is accurate, Nail’s ad is certainly performing adequately, and by demonstrating a savvy approach to pre-roll advertising, it makes a compelling case for Nail’s skills, too.