Seeking to create a better video advertising experience, Minteye has built an ad unit that gives users the option to bypass pre-roll ads—but only after first interacting with an image that complements the ad.
AOL has partnered with Minteye to use its technology for its video inventory. Here's how the unit works: As a brand's pre-roll video begins playing, a slider tool pops up with instructions to "slide to fit and skip the ad." The user slides the scrubber to the right, bringing into focus an image from the advertiser, then clicks to skip the ad (see it in action here).
The unit was created on the belief that users are often met with pre-roll ads they don't want to watch, said Minteye president Dean Margolis. That creates a "lose-lose-lose" scenario for users, publishers and advertisers, he added, explaining that frustrated viewers often click off a site, meaning an advertiser pays for a negative impression.
With the skip option, Margolis said, "the advertiser is never paying to piss off a user," plus it creates a game-like experience for the user.
AOL hasn't used the unit for a brand campaign yet. "We're still pitching this out to buyers," said Shahar Chaskelevitch, director and head of product marketing for AOL Video, adding that the company hopes to launch with an advertiser within the next couple of weeks. The ad unit could be used with any of AOL's video inventory, including AOL-owned and operated sites like TechCrunch and Huffington Post, he added.
But if pre-roll ads are so problematic, why not take them out of the equation altogether and rely solely on the unit's image-fitting tool? "There are people who want to see pre-roll ads," Margolis argued. "This gives the user the choice. I don't see that pre-roll ads are going to go away overnight."
On YouTube's video player, there's often the option to skip an ad after five seconds. That function has essentially trained users to expect skippable ads, Margolis said. But in a case where an ad on YouTube is skipped, YouTube loses out on revenue, he pointed out, adding, "We believe our pre-roll skip ad product is much more engaging, much more interactive."
The technology behind the Minteye unit was developed for use on a captcha product the company rolled out last summer using the same image-fitting concept.