February 27 2018 // Strategy

6 Ways to Make a Great Pre-Roll Video

Recycling. Good for Environment, Terrible for YouTube Ads

6 Ways to Make a Great Pre-Roll Video

You’re about to watch your daily dose of funny cat fail videos on YouTube. As you choose a clip, you get slammed with a local mattress store ad yelling about their ‘BIG BIG SAVINGS’. You have no interest in mattresses, cringe, and quickly scramble for the skip button. This is how some marketers are attempting to use pre-roll video. And it is a massive waste of time.

A large percentage of pre-roll videos are just recycled broadcast spots that a company reuses from other placement campaigns. For viewers, it is painfully obvious and pushes them to click the skip button immediately. Recycling is good for the environment, not so much for YouTube pre-roll.

Consider a more strategic approach with messaging tailored to your exact demographic. 

Unique and engaging ads created specifically for the platform they will be placed on is key. 

So how do you achieve greatness in your pre-roll ad?

The Hook 

The first 5 seconds is the short window you have to convince viewers your video is worth their time. So don’t blow it. After the first 5 seconds, a viewer can click to ‘Skip this Ad’ and continue on to the video they intended to watch. Strong hooks grab attention quickly using a bizarre situation, suspense, or curiosity for what’s to come.

Keep it quick, entertaining or informative, and give the viewer a reason to keep watching.

Make It Relevant

If the video isn’t relevant, viewers will skip every time. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, allowing you to target very specific search terms or content that connects well with your viewer. Don’t be afraid to turn away non-ideal watchers. It will actually save you money in ad dollars and appeal to more qualified viewers.

Leverage the fact that you know exactly what someone is searching for and craft a message that gets their attention.

Tell A Story

Typical ‘salesy’ videos rarely deliver results. A well-told story can connect with the target audience in a variety of ways. Overcoming the odds, lending a hand to those in need, staring adversity in the face... you get the idea. Instead of creating an ad, tell a story.

Keep It Moving

Most successful ads have some type of movement meant to grab attention quickly. This can include talent moving through a scene, camera movements, or varying angles to keep the viewer locked in. And don’t forget, after the first 5 seconds the video must keep viewers interested, so continue the movement throughout the video.

Build Curiosity 

Keeping a viewer engaged is easier to do by first peaking their curiosity. If the video foreshadows interesting information or a special offering later in the runtime, a viewer is more likely to stick around to get what they are looking for. Get them anxious to hear more.

Call to Action

Contrary to most marketers’ understanding, pre-roll videos can be longer-form if done properly. Regardless of the length of time, the message should be clear. Do you want people to visit your site, download a free offering, subscribe to your newsletter, or something else?

Be clear on your call to action and make it extremely easy for the viewer to follow through with your ask.


Pre-roll ads may look like broadcast ads, but they’re wildly different.

From the way they look and the way they are built to the way they are consumed by your viewer. Using traditional ad placement on non-traditional platforms simply doesn’t work. Think quality over quantity and peak the interest of your exact target demographic.

Developing a pre-roll campaign on your own can be daunting. Luckily for you, we are here to help. If you are curious about using pre-roll in your next marketing campaign, let’s chat. We love a good challenge!


Written By

Ryan Snaadt

Published In