Traffic Cardinal Traffic Cardinal wrote 06.12.2023

Pre-Roll or No Roll? The Pros and Cons of Video Advertising

Traffic Cardinal Traffic Cardinal wrote 06.12.2023
7 min

If you are curious about video advertising, you have probably come across the term pre-roll. This article will give you an overview of pre-rolls, their impact on video advertising and their design. We will also discuss their benefits and drawbacks, their cost and some tips on how to make them stand out.

What is Pre-roll Advertising?

A pre-roll is a brief (up to 30 seconds) video ad that plays before the main content. It is one of the types of in-stream video ads, along with mid-roll (placed in the middle of the content) and post-roll (placed at the end of the content).

The main goal of pre-roll advertising is to increase audience reach and brand awareness by smoothly integrating the promoted product or service into the video viewing experience on an online platform (YouTube, Facebook, streaming services, etc.).

Example of Youtube pre-roll ads
Example of Youtube pre-roll ads

However, it is important to keep in mind that many people find such ads irritating. Therefore, the more creative and engaging your pre-roll ad is, the more likely it is to be watched.

Types of Pre-roll Video Ads

Different platforms may have different requirements for pre-rolls, such as their duration and quality, but the general classification of types is the same for all platforms. The main difference between pre-rolls on different services is how long they last.

To give you a better idea, here are some examples of pre-rolls on YouTube:

  • Skippable — videos that can be skipped after 5 seconds of viewing. These require a quick hook to capture the viewer’s attention and make them want to watch till the end.

  • Unskippable — clips that cannot be skipped. They can vary in length, but on YouTube they are usually 15-20 seconds long. However, don’t assume that an unskippable ad will be watched for sure. The viewer may ignore it, switch tabs or use some software to bypass it. In other words, an ad must be intriguing to keep the viewer engaged.

  • Bumpers — unskippable clips up to 6 seconds long. They are almost always watched till the end, because even if the viewer puts their phone away, they will have to pick it back up after a few seconds. But with bumper-type pre-rolls, the challenge is to convey a clear message. Usually they are used for brand awareness or as a reminder or complement to an existing ad.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Pre-roll Advertising

To better understand what a pre-roll is and why it is useful, we need to weigh the pros and cons of this promo format.

The main advantage of pre-rolls is that they are shown before the main video starts: when the viewer’s brain is ready to watch. This makes the ad more memorable.

Besides, pre-roll videos have the following benefits:

  • High viewability — the shortness of the video and the viewer’s willingness to watch positively affect pre-rolls. However, some viewers may feel that pre-roll is a waste of their time. To avoid creating a negative impression of the brand, the ad should interest them from the first seconds. If this condition is met, more than 90% of the audience will watch it, even if there is a “skip” button.

  • Fast audience response — various interactive tools, such as links and buttons, allow the viewer to act immediately after showing interest. In other words, a person can order a product or service right after watching the ad.

  • Easy comprehension — time limitation forces the information to be presented as simple and clear as possible, unlike other types of promo, where “creatives” often get so complex that the target audience does not understand what they offer.

  • Increased recognition — these ads are ideal for branding campaigns. They are quickly remembered and can be repeated several times if necessary.

  • High relevance — if we talk about YouTube pre-rolls, they also have targeting. GEO, topics, keywords, search queries, user interests, social status, age group — all this can be taken into account. However, targeting is not only on YouTube. These tools allow showing personalised videos that are more likely to be viewed.

Interesting fact: almost one in three marketers (29%) say that pre-roll is the most effective advertising tool on the YouTube platform.

The disadvantages include:

  • Possibility of skipping or simply ignoring the ad;

  • Need to convey the message in a limited amount of time;

  • Risk of being shown next to an ad that is unfavourable for a particular brand (often ads are shown two at a time).

Price of Pre-roll Advertising on YouTube

The price of YouTube pre-rolls depends on GEO, duration and targeting settings. But on average, the rates are as follows:

  • 200+ impressions — $10;

  • 800+ impressions — $40;

  • 2000+ impressions — $100.

Please note that YouTube itself will choose channels for displaying ads based on the parameters you specify. To hit the bullseye, you can buy an ad from a blogger. But here it is important to analyse their audience very carefully, so that the promoted product matches their interests.

Such an ad will not be missed, but it will be skippable. Also, it will not start at the very beginning of the video, but after 5-10 minutes, when casual viewers will leave the channel.

Example of a well-targeted paid ad from a blogger
Example of a well-targeted paid ad from a blogger

And while such an ad can be skipped, the masters of their craft integrate promos in such a way that they are interesting to watch and do not stand out from the rest of the content — even though viewers know it is an ad and not a part of the video.

Tips for Creating a Quality Pre-roll Video

To make the video capture the audience, you need to follow these rules:

  • The information should be concise, but clear;

  • During the first 5 seconds, you need to, at least, convey the message, and ideally, create some curiosity;

  • The format of skippable ads causes less resentment towards the brand;

  • Be sure to include interactive elements for feedback;

  • Smart targeting is the key to efficient budget spending.


With the right approach, pre-rolls are a powerful and relatively affordable promotional tool. If you create them wisely, they will not just flash before your eyes, reminding you of the brand, but will become a full-fledged engagement funnel that will pay for itself.

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