With every new innovation in media technology, marketers must develop new advertising formats that align with the latest ways people consume news and entertainment.

Indeed, as consumers started moving from television to desktop video in the mid 2000s, advertisers quickly learned that the traditional 30-second ad spot was far too long for the short form video people were watching online. In response, they developed the 15-second pre-roll ad. While this format has served advertisers well for some time, the rise of mobile video means that it is time for the format to evolve once more.

After all, today’s mobile users generally find 15-second ads to be too long. At a time when consumers are watching more mobile video with each passing quarter, it’s simply untenable for marketers to continue serving them ads that they don’t like seeing on the screen they use most.

But what should come next? In order to find out, we asked 305 online video viewers and 300 marketing executives about where pre-roll stands today and how it could improve in the years to come. Here’s what we learned:

Users hate pre-roll, but marketers still use it.
One of our most interesting findings was the sharp division between how brands and consumers view pre-roll. 80% of users said they don’t like pre-roll ads, but 86% of marketers have indicated that they use them today and 84% will continue to use them in two years time.

In essence, many marketers are still holding on to a remnant of the TV era, even as consumers are saying they’d like something better. For some, it may be the case that they’re simply reluctant to deviate from what they’ve been doing for several decades. Others likely have the desire to deliver a better advertising experience, but they might not know of a superior alternative to the pre-roll unit.

Marketers still think that 15-second spots are more effective.
In terms of length, 56% of marketers said 15-second pre-roll ads are most effective, with just 26% giving the edge to 6-second ads. This may change over time, as 46% of marketers said 6-second ads will become more effective two years from now, with 38% saying 15-second spots would remain the better option.

While many marketers would like to satisfy consumer demand for shorter ads, our survey results prove that many of them are still holding on to outdated 15-second spots because they believe them to be more effective.

The In-Image :06 Canvas Video is a serious threat to 15-second pre-roll.
In recent months, we’ve been working to bridge the gap between the mobile consumers who  overwhelmingly prefer 6-second video ads and the advertisers who think that 15-second pre-rolls are still the best way to achieve their goals. What we came up with is something we call the In-Image :06 Canvas Video. 

The In-Image :06 Canvas Video ad uses GumGum’s computer vision technology to scan editorial images and their surrounding content, and then places a brand’s video ad within relevant editorial image.

We put this format head-to-head with 15-second pre-roll ads by showing 305 users the two units back-to-back and asked them to rate the experience. What we found is that In-Image :06 Canvas Video came out on top in every single metric.

Consumers rated In-Image :06 Canvas Video as follows over 15 second pre-roll video:

  • 23% more interesting
  • 36% more trustworthy
  • 16% more engaging

Crucially, our survey respondents told us that they liked seeing our new units much more than they did 15-second pre-rolls. Here’s what else they said about the In-Image :06 Canvas Video ads:

  • 22% less interruptive
  • 28% less irritating

Since marketers care most about the bottom line, we also asked about purchase intent. To this end, consumers were 45% more likely to purchase the product described in the video ad when they were served the In-Image :06 Canvas Video than  when they were served a 15-second pre-roll video.

For marketers, the evidence couldn’t be clearer: The era of the pre-roll video ads is coming to a close. With the In-Image :06 Canvas Video, brands have a perfect solution for capturing viewer attention in the mobile age. Our new ads ads are more effective than the 15-second pre-roll and consumers like seeing them a whole lot better.

In short, the In-Image :06 Canvas Video ad is a win for both marketers and consumers, and an important step forward in our industry’s evolution for the mobile era.

To read the full report of our findings click here.