Blog Post

Videoplaza Rolls its Eyes at Pre-Rolls (but Still Serves Them)

videoplazaIt’s about this time of year in Sweden when the days get longer — a lot longer since it is so far north. Too bad the folks at startup Videoplaza will miss most of that sunshine, since they appear to be spending all their time working. The small, Stockholm-based company creates ad server technology and has implemented two video ad innovations it says lets publishers better monetize time rather than just views.

Videoplaza CEO Sorosh Tavakoli told us that when he started the company 18 months ago, he and his team hated pre-rolls and were looking for a way to replace them. But the company held sobering talks with content publishers who, Tavakoli said, told his team “to stop reading the blogs — we need pre-rolls.” (We’re sure they meant stop reading all the blogs except NewTeeVee.)

Faced with that staunch reliance on pre-rolls, Videoplaza set out to try to at least make the format more palatable. Two problems the company identified with pre-rolls were the fact that they just disappeared once the pre-roll ran, and that viewers were seeing the same pre-roll too often. In response, the team implemented the iRoll and frequency capping.

With the iRoll, a shortened pre-roll runs and then rolls up to the top of the video player where it can be accessed for further watching. For example, a site could show the first bit of a movie trailer as a pre-roll. If users are interested in more, they can choose to access the full clip.

But even choosing to interact with an ad will get old quickly if you keep seeing the same spot over and over again. While frequency is up to the publisher, Videoplaza also encourages the use of a 24-hour cap so a user only sees a spot once a day on that site. If the pre-roll comes back up for the user, there is a skip ad button.

Videoplaza does its ad serving through a simple plug-in. Tavakoli says this plug-in approach makes Videoplaza more flexible because it can be cut-and-pasted into any video player, and since it is loaded dynamically from the Videoplaza servers, publishers don’t need to upgrade their player as new standards and formats are created. Videoplaza can also connect to an ad network if a publisher does not sell its own ads.

There is certainly a lot of competition in the video ad serving space from companies such as LiveRail and Tremor Media, which just announced its own decision-based video pre-roll this week. Videoplaza is focused only on European premium content publishers, like newspapers and broadcasters, and Tavakoli says there are no plans to try to enter the North American market in the next year.

Videoplaza raised 420,000 euros (roughly $667,802 in July of 2008) from Creandum and angel investors.

5 Responses to “Videoplaza Rolls its Eyes at Pre-Rolls (but Still Serves Them)”

  1. Ad_Guy

    Dear The Marketing Intern,

    We know you’re an intern and therefore cannot afford to buy anything. When you are older and have more money we’ll deliver ads that actually compel you to act. Until then we would rather annoy you since any press is good press.


    The Advertisers

  2. The Marketing Intern

    Pre-rolls are just awful. If I may be permitted to lodge an opinion, whenever I see a pre-roll, I automatically resent the company who is advertising and the website that allows it. If I have to watch that Shaq-Ben Stein ad on Hulu one more time, I’m going to explode. Does Icy-Hot work on headaches?

    The problem is that when I’m watching old episodes of The Family Guy, I’m not in the mood to consume. When matched up against the wit of Seth MacFarlane, “Shaqenstein” just isn’t funny, so I tune it out. Now, if I was watching, say, a National Geographic special on the plight of the common dolphin, and if I suddenly tried to navigate away from the video ten minutes into it, I would be pleasantly surprised to be confronted with a video advertising Citizens for the Health and Safety of the Common Dolphin, with a link to their website.

    Maybe that’s it: don’t get their attention going in, get it coming out. At least then we’ve been entertained and are in a better mood.

  3. Mark,
    I totally agree with you on all points. New ‘cool formats’ will not make online video proftable. It’s more important to solve the basic and core issues around making video ad serving work.

    This article is quite focused on how we, without any extra efforts from the advertisers, can turn the preroll into a better experience for both users and advertisers.

    This is however not the core part of our product which is more about solving the more critical ad serving issues around video such as targeting, inventory management, capping, managing ad serving on embedded sites, managing ad insertions into commercial breaks, video specific reporting, easier implementations etc.

    Sorosh Tavakoli

  4. What so many start-ups fail to recognize is that the evolution of video advertising will be dictated by what the agencies and advertisers actually want to buy… Which is driven primarily by what is simple, cost effective and able to generate a reliable, measurable ROI.

    Publishers need to focus first on delivering the core functionality and data that makes buying video simpler and more predictable for their advertisers. Providing core services like more granular targeting or richer reporting helps drive advertiser ROI and confidence in a medium that is still confusing and complex. Addressing these key advertiser concerns first will drive revenue for publishers today, providing the groundwork for growing our industry tomorrow. Until we solve these core underlying issues, no amount of exotic ad units will help turn online video into a profitable industry.