Are pre-roll ads too annoying?

Fred Wilson, New York City venture capitalist and noted blogger, would like to sound the death knell for ‘pre-roll’ ads that run before online video clips. It’s true that we’ve been collectively conditioned to expect our content to be both free and instant — and for that, hallelujah! — but in this case, there’s a bit of leeway in terms of context. As one commenter to the post pointed out, “I do not mind sitting through the pre-roll to be able to watch the episode of Jericho or Heroes I missed the night before.”

Heroes Pre-roll Ad from Chase

The few times I’ve encountered pre-roll ads, they’ve been on the sites of commercial broadcasters, and I’ve never navigated away just to avoid them.

Granted, I’d probably sit through five minutes of ads to catch a sneak-peek clip of the next episode of Lost, but I won’t pretend that’s normal.

But just as we’ve been conditioned to expect free and instant from the web, we’ve been conditioned to expect intrusive ads in content from major broadcasters. At least we’ve convinced them to let us watch shows online and on-demand. To reward their progress, I throw them a bone and sit through the pre-rolls.


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