Why Use YouTube Preroll Ads in Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Why Use YouTube Preroll Ads in Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Video is one of the most heavily searched topics on the internet. Searches for “how to” and “what is” yield a carousel of videos near the top of search results. 

As much as a third of all online activity involves watching video. Depending on the study you look at, up to 55% of people watch video online every day1 – and as of 2021, the average person is predicted to spend 100 minutes per day watching online videos.2 That makes online video marketing an integral part of any automotive digital marketing strategy.

So let’s talk about the main source of video consumed online: YouTube.

YouTube has become more popular than any broadcast TV network. An AdWeek study said by 2025, 50 percent of adults under 32 won’t pay for traditional cable.3 More than two-thirds of these same users in this age group are visiting YouTube daily. And more than 50 percent of older generations – including those over 60 years old – also watch videos online regularly.4

YouTube is the #2 search engine in the world (behind Google, which owns YouTube). Just look at the some of these stats:

  • YouTube sees more than 3 billion searches per month.
  • 37% of all mobile internet traffic belongs to YouTube.
  • 83% of consumers worldwide prefer YouTube to watch video content.

If you aren’t already advertising on YouTube, you should think about it. It can be an effective part of your Google Ads marketing strategy. One of the least intrusive (and most effective) ways is with preroll ads.

What Are YouTube Preroll Ads?

While “pre-roll” may make you think of ads that appear before a video, YouTube preroll ads are more than that.

On YouTube, preroll ads are non-skippable and can play before, in the middle of or after the video a viewer wants to watch. (These types of ads are also popular on Facebook, Twitter and Vimeo, but we’re going to focus on YouTube right now.)

These ads can be 15 to 20 seconds long. Here’s a screenshot of one example of a non-skippable video ad:

YouTube preroll ad example (screenshot)

These ads may also appear in midway through a YouTube video that is 8 minutes or longer in length.

Aren’t These Ads Annoying?

Some people may dislike preroll ads – especially when they appear in the middle of a video they’re watching. Generally, when they appear before the video, they’re considered to be the least intrusive of these types of ads. They also have a higher ad recall and engagement than other types of in-stream ads.5 

Think about it. The audience watching your ad is invested and willing to sit through a brief ad to get to the content they want to see. That means they’re likely engaged, since they’re waiting for something specific, and there’s a higher chance they’ll engage with your ad. 

Even when your ad appears in the middle of a video, it’s still worth it, comparatively.

  • For people watching standard TV on basic cable, in a typical 30 minute show, you generally get around 22 minutes of show and 8 minutes of ad breaks. That usually means between 2 to 3 minutes per ad break.
  • On Hulu (if you don’t pay for the ad-free premium subscription) a 30-minute show will play an ad beforehand and have two or three ad breaks during the show. It adds up to about 5 minutes of total ad time.5
  • On YouTube, on a 30-minute video, even if there is an ad before the video and an ad break every 5 minutes, if each non-skippable ad is 15 to 20 seconds long, that is about 2 minutes of total ad time (plus or minus a few seconds). 

Benefits of YouTube Preroll Ads

You can easily target YouTube ads.

You can target and manage these ads along with your other Google Ads. You can target your audience by: 

  • Location
  • Demographics
  • Language
  • Keywords
  • Topic (the type of video they’re watching right now)
  • Interest (the type of videos they tend to watch, even if they’re watching something else right now)

This makes preroll ads extremely practical, especially if you target interests and topics that make sense to the consumer. Since they’re waiting for something specific related to that topic, there’s a higher chance they’ll watch your ad. And you can use analytics to see how many people watched your ad and how long they watched it. 

For example, if the person watching your ad is watching or had recently watched a video about the new RAM 1500, and you show them an ad about your dealership with new RAM trucks in it, they’re more likely to be engaged with your ad. 

Most of us can’t afford to run Super Bowl commercials on TV, but YouTube ads are an affordable way to reach people.   

With YouTube, you basically choose where you want your ads to be shown, how much you are willing to pay, and who you want to see those ads. You can’t do that anywhere else.

And they’re very effective on mobile devices. The average CTR of video ads in mobile apps is 7.5 times higher than for display ads.6 

Treat YouTube Ads Differently

It’s important to treat YouTube ads as a separate platform. You don’t want to just upload your regular TV commercial. Users don’t want to see commercials. Effective pre-roll ads are 1) targeted well and 2) different and entertaining.

A simple, fun example (to help you think outside the box) is this Burger King preroll ad

So think creatively for your ad! Here are some ideas of preroll ads you could do for your dealership:

  • Find users searching for videos of new Ford vehicles and display a walk-around video ad about your Ford dealership.
  • Target users searching for videos about travel destinations within the U.S. and market a new vehicle to take them on the road. 
  • Show a good review or a quick walk through of your service center to users searching for how to repair something on their vehicle or how to change their own oil.
  • Create an ad that’s a quick tour of a specific model of vehicle users might be searching for, and tell them how to find other walkthroughs of vehicles available at your dealership. 

With YouTube preroll ads, it’s important to give your audience a reason to keep watching. Tell a story with the video. These ads are a source of entertainment for the viewers, so make your brand memorable, engaging and entertaining. 

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