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What Geico’s New Pre-Roll Ads Tell Us About Video Advertising

Insurance brand Geico’s new :15-second video pre-roll ads are a novel approach to the established pre-roll format. The spots poke fun at the pre-roll format itself, commiserating with consumers who must “sit through” a typical ad-based intro before getting to their chosen content. What does this tactic tell us about the state of pre-roll? And how will advertisers approach this type of advertising in the future?

Because of its longevity, pre-roll advertising sometimes gets a bad rap. Some studies have suggested other video formats like branded and native content are more effective. And consumers have been known to complain in the past about “unskippable” pre-roll campaigns. But as Geico’s innovative, award-winning, approach to pre-roll demonstrates, old ad formats can often evolve in surprising new ways when advertisers approach them with an open mind.

As the Martin Agency, the firm behind the spots explains, the key was making sure their client could add something of value for viewers. Given that some consumers have come to see pre-roll as an obstacle, the Martin Agency worked to rethink pre-roll as something entertaining and engaging. “If we’re going to interrupt someone on their way to watch something they actually sought out, and want to watch, we better make it worth their while,” said Martin group account director Brad Higdon in an interview with Adweek.

The truth is that the Martin Agency isn’t the only ad industry player reinventing this age-old ad format. Whether it’s a growing use of new “interactive” pre-roll tactics, or pairing pre-roll campaigns with TV to improve reach, frequency, and recall, or providing innovative tools to automatically adapt pre-roll for “vertical viewing” situations, there’s plenty of examples of pre-roll gaining new life with advertisers and publishers.

Just like the 15- and 30-second TV spots, pre-roll still exists today because few other ad formats can match its scalability or effectiveness. Advertisers that try and push old ad formats in exciting new directions often find tried-and-true ad solutions, like pre-roll, continue to be the “creative workhorse” of successful digital campaigns.