To draw the parallels and differences between In-feed Native Video and Pre-Roll, we ought to look at the fundamentals -- what do either of these distribution channels promote, and what are the goals of each one of the formats?
For pre-roll, the goals are largely aligned with the direct response type of message -- to drive sales. However, seeing how native advertising's main tactics are to build brand affinity and generate purchase intent, video content it promotes is typically a long form video that delivers value (educational, entertainment, inspirational etc.) outside the core value proposition of the product. This video content sits higher up in the purchase funnel and its goal is to connect with consumers on a deeper level that just transactional. With video content, brands want to show their human side.
What does it promote?
In this case, a short video worth a thousand words, so let's just take a look at both a pre-roll ad and a video content piece. Watch:
How is the message delivered?
Pre-roll is a literal copy of its father - TV advertising. In order to watch the content you are forced to sit through the advertiser's message. Unlike TV ads however, pre-roll is often skippable. If you've been on Youtube today, you have likely already seen a pre-roll ad! Here is what it looks like:
The fundamental premise of Native Advertising (and in turn in-feed native video) is to deliver advertiser's message in a non-interruptive manner. So instead of interrupting the user experience like in the case of pre-roll, interstitial or pop-up ads, native advertising gives consumers an option to engage with the message. As a result, advertisers are more motivated to produce high quality content that educates, entertains or moves people. In-feed native video is almost always click-to-play, and here is an example of how a choice to engage can be given:
- Pre-roll: short form (15 or 30-second long) video. Delivered before the online video. Often has a strong call-to-action. Largely used for direct response efforts - generating purchase intent and driving sales.
- In-feed Native Video: long form (longer than 30 seconds) video content. Delivered next to the other content a user is engaging with. Presented as an option for engagement. Promotes content that delivers value beyond just the core product by being educational, entertaining, inspiring. Used in content marketing efforts as part of awareness, brand affinity, purchase intent efforts.