Pre-Roll Video Ads Scare Viewers Away. Get Used To It.

There’s a good reason anyone who spends any amount of time watching TV ends up watching the “Head-On, apply directly to the forehead” ads. They work — and even when they don’t there’s no evidence that they force anyone to change the channel.

But the same isn’t true for pre-roll video ads. One survey by Burst Media says that more than half of all Internet users that call up a video bail out when they see an ad start to roll, and that a significant percentage leave the site entirely. The one bit of good news for video advertisers and publishers: Younger viewers seem most tolerant of the spots. Burst says 35% of 18-24-year-olds flee at the sight of pre-roll video, compared to 49.6% of 25 to 24-year-olds. But oldsters above the age of 55 have no interest: Nearly 60% bail out.

So should we expect to see pre-roll disappear? Not a chance. The ad buyers we talk to love pre-roll spots, insisting that they’re even more effective than 30-second TV spots, and they say they’re going to buy as many as they can. The challenge for both publishers and advertisers: Finding compelling video, and compelling video ads, that will generate enough inventory for the buyers to purchase.

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