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.