Blog Post

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.

5 Responses to “Are pre-roll ads too annoying?”

  1. we launched our site to experiment with opt-in object related advertising models. We think pre-roll is a very blunt instrument and wanted to find a way to make the ad experience (necessary business model!) more contextual and personalised. After all in one frame of video you will find a number of object advertising options. We havnt got it right yet but as alan posted above we are after all 2 years ahead of the US!!!

  2. Depends on the length of the feature.

    • 10 seconds of pre-roll for a 3 minute sing?
    • 30 secs of pre-roll for a 3 minute song?
    • 5 minutes for a 30 minute show?

    Now, how would it change if they were (fairly well) targeted. Different story.

    Intrusive ads on the net (pop-ups) by and large failed, but we accept intrusive ads on TV over longer periods – though I do think the US overdoes it compared to other countries.

    However, in the digital age it will probably be possible to block even these pre-rolls (see what happened to pop ups) fairly fast.

    In a few days time we are due to release our annual update of our broadband media advertising trends, so sign in here if you want a (free) copy of the summary paper. After all, London is supposedly 2 years ahead of the US now according to Terry Semel (plug plug :)

  3. “I’ve never navigated away just to avoid them.”

    That’s the beauty of multi-tabbed browsing. Hop over to another tab (say Yahoo Mail) for the minute or so these things run, and then come back when the real content starts.

  4. I don’t think it is a problem for MSM to be running pre-rolls on their shows broadcast on the internet. The problem in my opinion, sits with having to watch a pre-roll on a clip that you clicked a link for and have no idea what you are going to watch. I will never mind watching a web series like Something to be Desired with a pre-roll prior to the show. It is content that I want and don’t want to personally pay for. I understand they need to make money to keep producing.