Press: Adweek – Weighing up Skip and NonSkip

Written for AdWeek, Thursday 12th May. 

A round-up report from eMarketer, specializing in mobile advertising, recently landed in my inbox. On page three, a table of completion rates for U.S. digital pre-roll caught my eye. It claimed that, on average, completion rates for pre-roll ads on smartphones was 77 percent, rising slightly to 79 percent on tablet.

By themselves these stats seem pretty unremarkable—depending on the creative, 70 percent to 80 percent completion rate is a fairly standard result for a non-skippable pre-roll campaign. But there's the catch: unremarkable for a non-skippable campaign.

The vast majority of brands and advertisers understand the difference between a non-skippable pre-roll, which obliges a user to watch an ad before viewing video content, or a skippable format, which allows the user to decide whether or not to watch the ad. What is perhaps less well understood is the difference in performance across KPIs that these two buying options will deliver. A non-skippable pre-roll can achieve the highs of 80 percent completion pretty easily (after all, how many people abandon watching a video because of a 15-second ad?) whereas a very successful skippable pre-roll would be looking at a 40 percent completion rate.

This does not mean that the skippable pre-roll is delivering poor results, although seeing them side-by-side in an Excel spreadsheet might make a junior planner very nervous.

There are arguments for using both types of advertising—skippable ads are far more user-friendly, and the people who do watch your ad are probably genuinely interested in the message, unlike users who cannot skip and merely want to watch the video content after the trailer. On the other hand, non-skippable ads do mean more people see your message and, on average, this type of advertising tends to be cheaper.

Read the full article on AdWeek here.