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Dance brand Ministry of Sound claims to have been generating clickthrough rates as high as 5-9% after launching pre-roll online video ads - well higher than the industry average for banners of under 1%.

We asked head of digital sales Jim Haysom a few questions about its video advertising, and other ways it plans to monetise its rich media content.

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What video ad formats have you adopted?
 
Ministry of Sound offers both pre-roll advertising opportunities on our video content, as well as other video ad formats such as streaming MPUs and rich media ads - for example, expanded formats that stream video content. 

We have recently run a campaign with streaming trailers for Rush Hour 3 through MPUs and expandable leaderboards, alongside pre-rolls on our Ministry of Sound TV content and vodcasts in iTunes.
 
Our video content, whether it be the latest dance music videos or our own produced features such as Ibiza coverage and interviews, has become another inventory medium that we can look to commercialise. 

Video advertising is increasing, and we are in an advantageous position as we have our own production, filming, producers and post-production team. 

This enables us to continually release new footage every month, alongside the 30 dance videos that Ministry of Sound produce each year. 

We’ve also introduced ad funded videos and sponsorship of our content, with recent campaigns with the COI for Condom Essential Wear, and EMI for an exclusive David Guetta interview in Ibiza.

The advertiser creative is then integrated into the programming, rather than a pre-roll advert.
 
Video advertising formats are still emerging, and we are always keen to investigate and consider new technologies. 

There are video ad serving technologies that target social network sites, where video ad tickers are brought into the UGC video after 3 to 5 seconds, then disappear if there is no interaction, then reappear at the end. 

We also have been looking at offering mid-roll or post-roll videos as alternative solutions, but we must be conscious that is not obtrusive and disrupts the user experience. This is why we’ve opted for pre-rolls at this stage to evaluate the performance.

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What length of pre-roll adverts have you gone for – they seem about 15 seconds? Is this about the acceptable limit for users?

We’ve carried pre-rolls that have ranged from 10, 15 and 20 seconds in length.  With our video content lasting between 3 to 4 minutes for many dance videos, and some features lasting 5 to 30 minutes, we are very conscious of what is an acceptable limit for users. 

From our experience, we would recommend pre-rolls of between 10 and 15 seconds.

However, at this stage in the industry there appear to be few campaigns that are edited specifically for the pre-roll environment. There is an abundance of movie trailers, television programmes and branded commercials; these typically being around 15 to 30 seconds. 

We would consider 30 second pre-rolls if the advert was a very good fit to our audience. However, for longer length ads, clients should look to run with streaming rich media formats, such as the current campaign on Ministryofsound.com for Smirnoff which is a 60 second video. 

I’ve not seen any really short pre-rolls yet, for example 5 seconds, similar to those TV adverts for Big Brother with the “flashing eye” that appears in an ad break. This would be suited to more established brands for a short sharp branding hit, but over the next 6-12 months, I’m certain that creative agencies and advertisers will experiment more with the format.

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How much do they cost and how do you charge for them?

We charge pre-rolls on a CPM basis.  For pre-rolls on Ministryofsound.com/tv (which are clickable) our rate card is £25 CPM up to 10 seconds, £30 CPM up to 20 seconds and £35 CPM up to 30 seconds. For pre-rolls on our vodcasts (non-clickable) our rate card is £25 CPM up to 30 seconds.

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For advertisers, how does the RoI break down between banners and pre-roll video ads?

Drawing comparisons on click through rates between pre-roll video ads and banners, the performance is with the pre-rolls. 

The latest European figures from Adtech show the industry average click through rate for traditional banner ads is 0.18%. 

Most of our traditional format campaigns on Ministry of Sound run between 0.3% to over 1.0%, which is mostly down to the format, relevancy of the advertiser to our site and the quality of the creatives. 

With pre-roll campaigns on our video content we are achieving CTRs as high as 5-9%, demonstrating that pre-rolls are performing 50 times better than industry averages for traditional ad formats.

Measuring ROI on banners and pre-rolls can vary depending on whether the campaign is geared towards branding or direct response. 

There are also many ways in which agencies will measure the success of traditional or rich media formats, for example the reach of impressions served, the number of roll-overs, user initiated actions such as sound, or replay ad, click throughs to the site, brand awareness or recall and much more. 

There is a vast amount of available inventory on websites through display advertising, however there is a relatively lower amount of inventory as pre-rolls. 

For example, 6m impressions on Ministryofsound.com compared to 500,000 approx videos viewed (pre-roll inventory). While the CPM of a 30 second pre-roll may be approximately double that of a leaderboard format, pre-rolls are currently more efficient.

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What feedback have you had from users?

We have not seen any decrease in the number of our videos being watched, which indicate that the advertising campaigns we have executed have not turned away our audience. 

This is partly because the campaigns we’ve run are relevant to the audience. Some people only come to our website and watch a single dance video in a month, while others may watch 4 or 5 feature videos on Ibiza and return a couple of weeks later. 

If we were to carry irrelevant, un-engaging and lengthy pre-rolls, I’m sure our users would be quick to complain. This is not the case.

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Do you see novelty as a factor in the high click through rate?

Not at all, far from it. We make it clear for users to see on Ministryofsound.com/tv that the pre-roll is an advertisement. If you hover over the pre-roll it says “Click to visit website”, as well as the labelling of “Advertisement”. 

With the advent of increased broadband, people are engaging with websites more, for longer periods of time and consuming more rich media such as videos. 

Our audience consists of 18 to 35 year olds, of whom have been brought up with computers and the Internet in their lives. They are savvy and experienced users, and should they go to watch a music video or an interview on our website, and the pre-roll is of interest, they are certain to interact. 

Speaking with other professionals in the industry, they are also seeing click through rates for video pre-rolls over 2%, so it’s clear that this format is not a novelty.

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Any plans to offer more detailed reporting, beyond click-throughs?

Currently we report on the number of views of the pre-roll and the CTR each day.  With the audio already established, there is no need to report on user initiated sound, as seen in rich media campaigns and streaming MPUs. 

Some publishers who offer video pre-rolls do not offer the clickable element, and have to support a campaign with companion ads to initiate the click. We are pleased to report on the visibility/reach and interactivity on our campaigns.

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What can you offer in terms of reporting for mobile video downloads?

For Ministry of Sound video podcasts, we do offer reporting on the number of downloads each day.

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What are you doing to extend the reach of the videos onto other domains - YouTube, Blinkx etc?

Yes, we are already pushing our video content on Joost, Babelgum, Vuze.com, YouTube, Google Videos, etc. 

On Joost.com for example, we have two Channels, a dance music video channel with the hottest tracks, and a features channel, which includes features, interviews, Ibiza coverage and much more. 

We also publish videos on YouTube and on our MySpace page, to name a few sites.

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Any thoughts on offering videos/other content via widgets?

Yes, we launched Ministry of Sound Radio Vista gadget this week. This is the world’s most exclusive dance music Vista gadget offering a direct one click access to the very best in dance music from across the globe, direct from our studio in London, UK.

This official Vista gadget allows users to easily listen online to any of the 13 daily shows from the 24/7 live stream, or select and skip through the On Demand channels where users can pick exactly what they want to hear, when they want to hear it.

The On Demand channels give direct access to the best shows and mixes by genre, including Chill Out, Session’s with underground mixes and a full weekly archive of all the stations specialist shows. Listeners can pause and skip forwards and backwards at their leisure.

You can download the Vista gadget here and more information can be found on our site.

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Published 16 August, 2007 by Richard Maven

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