We don’t talk an awful lot about ad campaigns on the blog. We’re more about the delivery of them.

Where they work? What formats work best? What the heck does programmatic mean? It’s mostly ‘measurable ROI’ rather than the actual content of the ad itself.

However, just like when the excellent BLAH Airlines campaign from Virgin came along, every so often you have to take advantage of your blogging power, sit back and share something you love purely because it’s really clever.  

So here’s the new campaign from Geico, which gloriously subverts everything you thought you knew about YouTube pre-roll ads. 

It sounds like a simple remit, create an advert that manages to deliver its message within a tight five second timeframe - essentially before a viewer is allowed to skip past it to the actual video they wanted to watch – however the difficulty lies in convincing them to watch longer.

The team behind the ‘Unskippable’ campaign has achieved this perfectly. Heck I could watch that dog slobber around the dinner table all day long, hooked to see what destruction it causes next.

The same goes for the other ads in the campaign…

In fact it’s a very clever repeatable format, which of course is the ultimate goal of ad campaigns wishing to achieve longevity with limited budget or resources.

The following is compulsive viewing for its sheer awkwardness…

Whilst others just work as short, deftly delivered visual gags. 

Of course there is a precedent. If you remember Police Squad, the televised precursor to the Naked Gun movies, then you’ll probably realise that Geico has essentially swiped the structure of the visual gag from here…

However what stops it from appearing like a blatant rip-off is how the gag has been adapted perfectly for the medium of online video. It’s an ad that simply wouldn’t work on television.

It’s also fully aware of the inherent problems in YouTube pre-roll ads. Research from 2013 indicates that 94% of people skip pre-roll ads. There are many reasons why they’re so loathed, and frankly it’s a wonder that two years later they still exist.

Adverts on television are expected as part of the overall experience, you know that 15 minutes into a programme you can expect an ad-break. Online though, where you’re looking for an instant hit of content (and if you’re on YouTube this may only be a few minutes or even less) it’s all the more irritating to be held up by a pre-roll. There are even scenarios where the pre-roll ad is longer than the video.

Pre-rolls are as obtrusive as pop-ups and just as reviled, but then again, if pre-rolls were of a similar, highly entertaining quality as the Geico ads, maybe things would be different.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 10 March, 2015 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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