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Making the most of a mobile video pre-roll

Marketers are increasingly looking to mobile video to add engagement to campaigns. However, with a small window of time to leave a lasting impression, nailing the mobile pre-roll is a must.

Even though there are big opportunities around mobile pre-rolls, there are still challenges around tracking and measurement. For the best results, marketers should tie pre-roll initiatives with other mobile video components.

?In order to make the most of their mobile pre-roll campaigns, marketers should require transparency into which apps and mobile Web sites they are running on and set very clear campaign goals and success metrics prior to campaign launch,? said Matt Young, director of mobile at BrightRoll, San Francisco.

?These success metrics could include view-through rates or brand lift,? he said.

?Pre-roll, whether it?s on mobile or PC Web, is a powerful way for TV brand advertisers to get their messages across to consumers on the devices they are now using the most. In-banner mobile video, or rich media display units that require the extra step of a user to click on an icon or a banner to launch a video, don?t offer the same TV-like engagement as pre-roll.?

Activate on mobile
Compared to other types of mobile advertising, one of the biggest challenges with mobile pre-rolls is that consumers have a small window of time to soak in a brand?s message.

Therefore, making the most of the ad unit with a clear call-to-action is crucial. However, the call-to-action needs to match the campaign?s objective.

In some cases this means including a button that links to a company?s mobile site to learn more. Incorporating an image overlay that uses a handset?s built-in GPS to find a nearby store or links to a brand?s social media site can also be effective, per Mr. Young.

In either case, the key is to offer a call-to-action that ties directly into the pre-roll?s content with an upfront value.

For example, a retailer could leverage mobile video pre-loads to tie in with an offer or deal. On the other hand, a quick-service restaurant would benefit from incorporating a store locator into campaigns to drive foot traffic.

?These interactive opportunities give the user the opportunity to raise his hand and say ?Yes, I'm interested in your brand,? and identify himself as your key target audience,? said Sarah Nagle, Northeast regional sales manager of mobile and connected TV advertising at Tremor Video, New York.

?Unlike other mobile video ads available, pre-roll gives you the opportunity to connect with your consumers when they are primed to consume and absorb video content,? she said. ?You can reach consumers in a full screen, often very personal, environment, before content they love and are excited to watch.? 

?Creating custom ad experiences by adding additional layers of interactivity on the video gives viewers a chance to interact in ways native mobile video players don't support.?

Trackable ads
Another challenge with mobile video pre-rolls is around targeting limitations.

Without a reliable mobile cookie, advertisers might hesitant to test out mobile versions of pre-rolls compared to online units that have better forms of audience measurement and behavioral targeting.

Therefore, savvy marketers look at how pre-roll units fit into a bigger picture of a brand?s mobile advertising strategy.

?Marketers see pre-roll as the holy grail of video inventory, but because of tracking and inventory limitations, marketers should seek out other venues for mobile video,? said Srikanth Kakani, CEO of Vdopia, Fremont, CA.

?Mobile video content consists mostly of movie trailers, TV shows, music videos and tutorials, so it is challenging for marketers to run pre-roll with related content,? he said.

One way to incorporate mobile pre-roll into broader campaigns is with banner ads. Mobile banner ads are often criticized for not being as interactive as other forms of advertising.

By incorporating a video into a banner ad, marketers can not only add some interaction to an ad, and it can be used by marketers to hone in on a specific group of mobile users by interest or demographic.

Additionally, marketers can look beyond only running pre-rolls before video content begins. For example, popping a video ad up when a user opens an app can be an easy way to incorporate a short clip.

?Since mobile rich media ad serving is available on most publisher sites and mobile apps, sometimes this is the quickest and most scalable way to deliver mobile video ads,? said Diaz Nesamoney, CEO/founder of Jivox, Redwood City, CA.

?The advantage with pre-rolls of course is the same as on the Web ? users will definitely see the mobile pre-roll ad as it will have to be viewed before the video content can be viewed,? he said.

Opportunities around video interstitials and tap-to-expand display ads also create compelling opportunities for marketers to think beyond only exclusively using pre-rolls.

With limitations around targeting, building brand awareness is one of the best use cases for mobile video, according to Eric Franchi, co-founder at Undertone, New York.

?Because consumers have a very narrow focus when watching video on a mobile device, pre-roll video is a great way to deliver an immersive ad experience,? he said. ?User-initiated ads elicit more positive emotion from consumers than auto-play ads, so pre-roll presents a much better branding opportunity than interstitial video on a mobile platform.?

?Despite the hockey-stick growth of mobile content adoption, the availability of true mobile video pre-roll is limited.?

The shorter the better
When it comes to mobile video, shorter is always better. Therefore it is critical that marketers pair content down to the bare minimal to most effectively use the channel.

Even though a 30-second clip might work for an online video, 15 seconds suits mobile better because of users? shorter attention spans with smaller screens.

Additionally, brands need to remember that mobile users are more likely than not watching short content, meaning that a device?s bandwidth also needs to be taken into account.

?Folks on limited-data plans may have an issue with ads taking up that precious bandwidth,? Jivox's Mr. Nesamoney said.

?Interactive overlays on the pre-roll help by providing a way to get brand messaging across without using a long video,? he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York