GTM Dictionary

The Go-to-Market Dictionary: Pre-Roll Ad

Learn everything you need to know about pre-roll ads with our comprehensive Go-to-Market Dictionary.

If you're involved in digital marketing, you've probably come across the term "pre-roll ad." While this form of online advertising has been around for over a decade, it continues to be a popular choice for marketers looking to grab the attention of their target audience. In this article, we'll explore pre-roll ads in detail, covering everything from their definition and purpose to their benefits and best practices.

Understanding Pre-Roll Ads

A pre-roll ad refers to an advertisement that appears before the main content of an online video. These ads typically run for a few seconds to a couple of minutes, depending on the video's length. Pre-roll ads are often skippable, which means that viewers have the option to bypass the ad and proceed to the main content. However, some pre-roll ads are non-skippable, which means that viewers are required to watch the ad in its entirety before accessing the content they originally intended to watch.

Definition and Purpose

The main purpose of pre-roll ads is to promote a product, service, or brand to a targeted audience. These ads are a form of interruptive marketing, which means that they seek to capture the viewer's attention and promote a specific message during their online viewing experience. Pre-roll ads are typically used in conjunction with video content, which is why they have become an essential part of the digital marketing landscape.

Pre-roll ads are a valuable tool for businesses looking to increase brand awareness and drive sales. By targeting specific demographics, pre-roll ads can help businesses reach new audiences and generate leads. Pre-roll ads can also be used to promote new products or services, build brand recognition, and establish a strong online presence.

Types of Pre-Roll Ads

There are two main types of pre-roll ads: in-stream and in-banner. In-stream pre-roll ads appear before video content, while in-banner pre-roll ads appear in a banner format, usually alongside the video player. In-stream pre-roll ads are the most common form of pre-roll advertising, as they offer a more immersive experience for the user.

In-stream pre-roll ads can be further broken down into two categories: skippable and non-skippable. Skippable pre-roll ads allow viewers to skip the ad after a few seconds, while non-skippable pre-roll ads require viewers to watch the entire ad before accessing the main content. Skippable pre-roll ads are generally more user-friendly, as they give viewers the option to bypass the ad if they're not interested.

Key Metrics and Performance Indicators

When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of pre-roll ads, marketers use a variety of metrics and performance indicators, including viewability, completion rate, click-through rate, and engagement rate. These metrics help marketers to determine how well their ads are performing and make adjustments accordingly.

Viewability refers to the number of times an ad is viewed by a user. Completion rate measures the percentage of viewers who watched the entire ad. Click-through rate measures the number of clicks an ad receives, while engagement rate measures the number of interactions an ad receives, such as likes, shares, and comments.

By analyzing these metrics, marketers can determine which ads are performing well and which ones need improvement. They can also use this information to optimize their ad campaigns and improve their overall ROI.

The Benefits of Pre-Roll Advertising

Increased Brand Awareness

Pre-roll advertising has become a popular marketing strategy for businesses looking to increase their brand awareness. By appearing before relevant video content, pre-roll ads help to establish brand recognition and credibility, making it more likely for viewers to recall the brand name or message later on.

For example, a company that sells fitness equipment could create a pre-roll ad that appears before a workout video on YouTube. By doing so, the company can target an audience that is interested in fitness and increase the chances of viewers remembering their brand when they are in the market for fitness equipment.

Targeted Audience Reach

One of the biggest advantages of pre-roll advertising is the ability to target specific demographics and interests. By utilizing targeting options, such as location, age, and interests, brands can optimize their pre-roll ads to reach their desired audience.

For instance, a company that sells luxury watches could target individuals who have shown an interest in high-end fashion and accessories. By doing so, the company can ensure that their pre-roll ad is reaching an audience that is more likely to be interested in their product.

Higher Engagement Rates

Pre-roll ads have a higher engagement rate than other forms of online advertising, such as banner ads. This is due to the immersive nature of the ad, which allows marketers to tell their brand story in a more compelling way.

For example, a company that sells outdoor gear could create a pre-roll ad that showcases people using their products in beautiful outdoor locations. By doing so, the company can create an emotional connection with viewers and increase the chances of them engaging with the ad.

Better Conversion Potential

Pre-roll ads have been shown to have a positive impact on conversion rates, as they allow marketers to showcase their product or service in action. By demonstrating the value of their offering, pre-roll ads can drive viewers to take action and convert into customers.

For instance, a company that sells skincare products could create a pre-roll ad that shows the before and after effects of using their products. By doing so, the company can demonstrate the effectiveness of their products and encourage viewers to make a purchase.

In conclusion, pre-roll advertising offers businesses a range of benefits, including increased brand awareness, targeted audience reach, higher engagement rates, and better conversion potential. By using pre-roll ads strategically, businesses can effectively reach their target audience and achieve their marketing goals.

Creating Effective Pre-Roll Ads

Pre-roll ads are a powerful tool for marketers to reach their target audience and promote their brand or product. However, creating an effective pre-roll ad requires careful planning and execution. In this article, we will explore some key strategies for creating pre-roll ads that engage and convert viewers.

Defining Your Objectives

Before creating a pre-roll ad, it's important to define your objectives and target audience. What message do you want to convey, and who do you want to reach? Having a clear understanding of your objectives will help you create an effective pre-roll ad that resonates with your audience.

For example, if you are promoting a new product, your objective may be to increase awareness and drive sales. In this case, your pre-roll ad should focus on highlighting the unique features and benefits of your product, and how it can solve a problem or meet a need for your target audience.

Crafting a Compelling Message

Your pre-roll ad should tell a story that is relevant, engaging, and memorable. Focus on creating a message that speaks to your target audience, highlighting the unique value that your brand or product provides.

One effective strategy is to use humor or emotion to capture viewers' attention and make your brand more relatable. For example, a pre-roll ad for a pet food brand might feature a cute and funny video of dogs and cats eating their food, with a message that emphasizes the importance of high-quality ingredients for a pet's health and happiness.

Choosing the Right Video Length

The length of your pre-roll ad will depend on several factors, including the platform hosting the ad and your target audience. While shorter ads can be more convenient for viewers, longer ads can provide more opportunities to communicate your message effectively. Aim to strike a balance between length and content that is relevant to your target audience.

For example, if you are targeting a younger audience on social media, a shorter pre-roll ad of 15-20 seconds may be more effective. However, if you are targeting an older audience on a news website, a longer pre-roll ad of 30-60 seconds may be more appropriate.

Incorporating a Strong Call-to-Action

Your pre-roll ad should end with a clear and concise call-to-action (CTA) that drives viewer engagement and conversion. Whether it's directing viewers to a website or social media account, make sure your CTA is clear and actionable.

For example, if you are promoting a new product, your CTA might be to visit your website to learn more and make a purchase. Make sure your website is easy to navigate and provides a seamless user experience to encourage viewers to take action.

In conclusion, creating an effective pre-roll ad requires careful planning and execution. By defining your objectives, crafting a compelling message, choosing the right video length, and incorporating a strong call-to-action, you can create pre-roll ads that engage and convert your target audience.

Pre-Roll Ad Best Practices

Pre-roll ads have become an integral part of online video advertising. They are short, skippable ads that play before the main video content. Pre-roll ads are an effective way to reach a large audience and increase brand awareness. However, creating a successful pre-roll ad campaign requires careful planning and execution. Here are some best practices to follow:

Optimize for Mobile Viewing

With the majority of online video views now happening on mobile devices, it's essential to optimize your pre-roll ads for mobile viewing. This includes making sure that your ad is responsive and easy to navigate on smaller screens. The ad should also load quickly, as slow loading times can lead to viewer frustration and high bounce rates.

Additionally, consider the placement of your ad on the screen. Placing it in the middle of the video content can be disruptive and may lead to viewers skipping the ad. Instead, consider placing it at the beginning or end of the video for a less intrusive experience.

Use High-Quality Video and Audio

The quality of your pre-roll ad can have a significant impact on its engagement and conversion rates. Use high-quality video and audio to create a polished and professional ad that resonates with your target audience. Poor quality visuals or audio can lead to viewers quickly skipping the ad and negatively impact your campaign's performance.

It's also important to ensure that your ad's message is clear and concise. Avoid using jargon or complex language that may confuse viewers. Instead, use simple and straightforward language that clearly communicates your brand's message.

Test Different Creative Approaches

By testing different creative approaches, such as using humor or storytelling, you can determine what resonates best with your target audience. Experiment with different variations until you find the approach that works best for your brand and message. A successful pre-roll ad campaign requires creativity and innovation, so don't be afraid to think outside the box.

Consider using data and analytics to track the performance of your pre-roll ads. This can help you identify which creative approaches are most effective and which ones need improvement.

Monitor and Adjust Campaigns Regularly

Finally, it's essential to monitor and adjust your pre-roll ad campaigns regularly. This includes tracking the performance metrics we discussed earlier, such as completion and engagement rates, and making changes as needed to optimize your campaigns over time.

It's also important to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices in pre-roll advertising. As technology and consumer behavior continue to evolve, so too will the strategies and tactics used in pre-roll ad campaigns.

By following these best practices and staying adaptable, you can create a successful pre-roll ad campaign that effectively reaches your target audience and achieves your marketing goals.


In conclusion, pre-roll ads are a powerful tool for marketers looking to increase brand visibility, engagement, and conversion rates online. By crafting a compelling message, targeting the right audience, and following best practices, you can create effective pre-roll ads that drive real results for your brand. Remember to test and adjust your campaigns over time and strive to maintain a high level of quality in your ads to maximize their impact.