Saving the Trees One Ad View at a Time

65% of people skip pre-roll ads. But Busch Beer’s new “Tree-Roll” ad is giving people a compelling reason to watch to the end. For every full completion view, Busch is planting a tree.

They’ve partnered with the National Forest Foundation as part of the foundation’s effort to plant 50 million trees across America by 2023. For every $1 donated, 1 tree is planted.

The campaign ladders up to Anheuser-Busch’s larger effort to become the industry leader in sustainability.

Why It’s Hot

Besides being a creative way to get people to watch ads all the way through, Busch is hitting on a major area of interest for young Americans by taking a stand on climate change.


xfinity’s pre-roll cost calculator…

Xfinity (to promote its mobile carrier service) recently unleashed a suite of 6-second pre-roll ads to show customers of their competitors exactly how much money a YouTube video they watch costs them in data.

The company says it’s tailoring the ads based on users’ carrier (AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon), and the type of video they’ve chosen to watch, making it hyper-relevant to each viewer.

Why It’s Hot:

It’s not just advertising, but utility. If anyone you know can tell you how much it costs them to use data for different applications or purposes, they’re much more clued in than the rest of us. But more importantly, it’s intended to be personalized to each user, further signaling that the future of advertising (and products) are truly individualized.


The Power of Six Reaches YouTube

YouTube released a new pre-roll format this week known as Bumper Ads. These pre-roll ads are similar to traditional TrueView Ads on the channel, except that they last just six seconds. The new format is optimized for mobile, where users have shorter attention spans.

Not only are these ads optimized for mobile viewership, but they also present an opportunity for brands to test which format is most successful and engaging. Recently, Audi and Atlantic Records launched Bumper Ads that featured select shots from its longer TV spots.

YouTube has found from early tests that these short-form pre-roll ads perform best when paired with TrueView ads. They are a great complement to the traditional ads as they are optimized for mobile and drove strong lifts in the upper funnels of ad recall and awareness when targeted towards those who had previously seen TrueView preroll ads. The TrueView ads have been found to perform best in lower funnels.

Why It’s Hot: These shorter pre-roll ads could be a great solve for advertising on mobile, as they cater to the short attention spans of mobile users. It will be interesting to see how brands use these Bumper Ads to retarget their key audience on mobile. There is opportunity with these ads to develop smart re-targeting strategies to reach users effectively and across platforms.


Friskies Long Form Commercial Kills

I don’t know if anyone else has seen this ad, but Friskies has been running this ad on YouTube and is not only hilarious (well, hopefully it’s funny to all of you!) but engaging.  The POV is an older cat giving a kitten advice on different things in life.  The video is almost 4 minutes long, and is skippable very early on (when shown as pre-roll).  My husband, who HATES ads, laughed with me through the whole thing, not ever asking if we could skip.

Why It’s Hot

1.) Smart way to put a brand message out.  The video doesn’t push the brand too much, but you see just enough to know it’s for Friskies

2.) Engaging: Whoever made the ad ensured that it was funny enough to engage people to watch the whole thing.  It was posed one week ago and already has over 2.2MM views.

3.) Interesting use of a YouTube brand channel: Friskies is posting a bunch of “Dear Kitten” videos in this series.  Being part crazy cat lady, I subscribed… the videos are entertaining!

Allstate Makes Trying to Skip an Ad, an Ad…


I’m sure you’re all like me, and rarely make it more than the 5 seconds usually required before skipping a pre-roll ad.

Well, Allstate released a brilliant (subjective judgment, but in my opinion) way to basically keep you from skipping its pre-roll ads last week. As usual, once you get 5 seconds in, you’re offered the option to skip the ad, but if you do, rather than actually skipping the ad, you’re presented with an array of torturous situations – for example, I got nails on a chalkboard. So, naturally, you basically end up watching the ad or closing your browser window.

Why It’s Hot

I haven’t seen any data on point, but I’d imagine the percentage of users who skip pre-roll ads on average is pretty high (and the percentage of users who skip Allstate/insurance company ads even higher, which shows impeccable self-awareness on Allstate’s part I might add). And Allstate actually seems to have found an entertaining/fun (albeit deliberately annoying) way to get you to watch its ad. While some people will probably just close their browser window, even still this is probably something you’ll remember, and all Allstate really needs you to do is remember their name and that they did this. Just an interesting way to use a common user behavior to your advantage, and turning an otherwise negative result (from an advertiser’s standpoint) into a [potentially] positive one.

Unfortunately, you can’t embed the ad itself, but if you want to see what I’m talking about, you can check it out on Allstate’s site.

Volvo Makes Pre-Roll Ads…Wait For It…Interesting By Matching Ads To Videos

It’s estimated that 6 billion hours of video is watched on YouTube every month. And with all that video comes what feels like 12 billion hours of frustrating, irrelevant pre-roll. But what if the pre-roll ad seemed to know what was about to come next? Wouldn’t that be more compelling?

While discussing how to make pre-roll more interesting, Grey Canada and media agency Havas hit upon an idea that did just that while also cleverly showing off the 60 new attributes of Volvo’s new XC60. Rather than great a single—or even a handful of—ads to run on YouTube, the creative and media agencies came up with “6 Billion Hours,” a campaign that matches a video’s theme to a car feature to witty effect.

So, for instance, someone looking for storm-chasing videos would see a pre-roll clip related to the XC60 rain-sensing wipers. Interested in footage of Vine’s most famous twerker, and the pre-roll would encourage you to stop shaking the junk in your trunk (literally) with its grocery bag holder. And if you were one of the 40-plus million to take in what it’s like to walk through NYC as a woman, you’d be met with a video that touts the XC60’s Rear Park Assist Camera with the line “See what’s creeping behind you.” Watching the increasingly unstable antics of Justin Beiber? The car’s City-Safety Auto Braking was accompanied by “Make him stop.”

Check out the video here:

Why it’s hot:

In all, the campaign was so successful for Volvo that Scissons says the agency is now looking for other car nameplates within Volvo with which to replicate the concept. While the content will change for any new iteration, one thing is likely certain based on Scisson’s experience with “6 Billion Hours”: we’ll probably see more of the Biebs. “Justin Bieber was an easy target.”

Geico Makes Clever Pre-Roll Ads That Are Basically Unskippable

Viewership rates for YouTube preroll ads are generally abysmal. According to some research, 94 percent of preroll gets skipped immediately after the first five seconds (which are unskippable). And in fact, that number seems low.

Part of the problem is, very few marketers specifically tailor ads to pre-roll—they prefer simply to run their TV spots unchanged. But that ignores the fact that those first five seconds are crucial. If you don’t hook people then, you’ll lose them.

Geico understands this, though, and is rolling out some fun new digital ads on March 2nd—from The Martin Agency—that really put the emphasis on those first five seconds. Absurdly and comically so. The ads will run as :15s, :30s and even longer spots, but what happens after the first five seconds is part of the humor.

Two executions, “Family” and “High Five,” rolled out 3/2 in various lengths. Two more are coming soon.

Why It’s Hot

It’s a constant challenge to get the message of your video ad across in the first few seconds of a pre-roll spot.  Many times, ads have a 5 second skip, where users can move on to what they planned to watch after 5 seconds.  If users watch for a longer period of time, it’s great… but not many people watch the whole commercial.  This is a great example of a cheeky way to 1.) get your message across quickly and 2.) get people to watch your full video (note that they had the Geico logo across the screen in the entire video).  I’m interested to see how their completion rates turn out!

YouTube To Block “Middleman” Video Sponsorship

Google has revised its YouTube advertising policy in a move that tries to centralize all ad messaging through Google—shifting the power to solicit content sponsorship away from creators, YouTube stars and publishers.

The tactic in question is the use of “graphical title cards,” which can be persistent or temporary visual overlays to the video content, displaying a sponsor’s brand/product logo throughout the length of the video. Moving forward, the only way to get that type of message in a video will be to buy it directly through Google as part of a larger media plan purchase. Note: according to Google, text-only title cards are still allowed.


Google says the policy change is meant to moderate the number of ads that users see in a given visit, but critics say the move is intended to be more of a revenue “land grab” that takes a slice of content creators’ revenue.

Playing into the trend towards short-form video advertisements, Google has introduced a new six-second pre-roll ad unit that enables brands to insert quick messages before the intended video is viewed.

Why It’s Hot

YouTube has become a critical component of how social media stars and vloggers have gained their internet stardom. Google is making a bold statement on who controls sponsored messages on its platform, at the expense of the content creators themselves. Only time will tell if publishers curb to these new demands, or whether video starlets try to migrate away from the all-mighty video platform.

Source: DigiDay

Virgin America’s New Video Asks: If You Can’t Watch the Film, Why Do This in Real Life?

Virgin America has released a new online campaign centering around a six-hour pre-roll video. No, that wasn’t a typo. It wasn’t supposed to say “six-minute.” That’s six hours.

The six hour video is meant to depict – in “real time” – the experience of flying on a typical competitor airline for a 5 hour and 45 minute flight from Newark to San Francisco. Here, that airline is called BLAH Airlines (a fake airline with a real website!), but we can all imagine at least one or two actual airlines they’re referring to. The seats are cramped, the lighting is harsh, there’s no great entertainment, and no real food.

Read more on Adweek.

Why It’s Hot | Many of our clients fear being ‘too negative’ or focusing too much on their competition. Virgin takes an interesting approach to avoiding both of things, by still actually doing them. The “real time” look into a BLAH Airlines experience doesn’t actually talk badly about Virgin competitors, but the message is obvious enough to anyone who has flied recently.

It’s also interesting because here, they’re using a typically short and easily-digestible channel (YouTube video, pre-roll specifically), in a completely new (and quite frankly, bonkers) way. But the ridiculous and “ineffective” use of the short-form video placement actually hammers home the message it’s meant to –  “Just trying to watch the video is downright painful—and that’s the point. If you wouldn’t sit through the entire film, why would you pay money to experience it in real life?”

“TV viewing” Shifts to Streaming & Media Spends are Sure to Follow

In a Harris Poll Survey of 2,300 Americans, 23% said they are watching more TV via streaming than they did 1 year ago, while 37% say they are watching the same amount as last year, and 7% say they are watching less. Streaming continues to grow, though a bit slower than in past years. Millenials lead the trend, with 47% preferring to stream TV shows vs. watch them via traditional TV. As they mature and become a dominant force within the population, so will their preferences, but do we have to wait that long?

Consumers have ideas about what might be offered via streaming, which would increase their viewing via streaming. For example, 60% of survey respondents indicated that they’d like to be able to view pilots online and then vote on those that should be selected to run during the regular season.

Why It’s Hot: Three reasons: 1.) Pre-roll/mid-roll spot-buying is far more efficient (especially for long-form commercials – e.g., :60s, :90s) than TV-buying. 2.) A large-scale study by Nielsen & the IAB indicated that TV spots that are delivered digitally are also 2x more effective in increasing ad recall. 3.) 40% of media budgets still spent on TV, with many large brands’ budgets in excess of $100MM.

Ad Spending Trends

In summary, digital delivery has the potential to greatly increase clients’ TV spot efficiency and effectiveness, and as digital video scale increases (i.e., consumer viewing), this will drive a major shift in spending that will benefit the agencies who are most skilled in the area of digital video distribution.