Trevor Fellows, global head of advertising sales for The Wall Street Journal, spoke with eMarketer’s Danielle Drolet about best practices in digital video advertising.
eMarketer: What have you learned over the years about video advertising that you have developed into a best practice?
Trevor Fellows: The user experience has to be paramount. Interestingly, at the moment, there is significantly more demand for video space than there is inventory.
Everybody’s interests are best served by putting the user experience first. We get better quality impressions. Users trust the video experience that they watch with us, and hopefully they enjoy and trust the video content, too.
Consequently, we ensure that our pre-rolls are relatively short. We’ll run 10- or 15-second pre-rolls. And in some cases there’s video where we won’t place any advertising at all—in very important news stories, for example.
eMarketer: How should advertisers determine video length?
Fellows: It depends on the type of content and the length of the content. There’s a world of difference between long-form and short-form online video. We publish both, but the overwhelming majority of our content is relatively short form, and consequently, we make sure our advertisers know that.
The people willing to sit through 30 minutes are much more likely to watch a 30-second commercial beforehand or to sit through a break at some stage in between. But because most of our video views are coming from clips that are anywhere between 90-seconds and two-and-a-half or 3 minutes, we’re looking at a 10- or 15-second pre-roll.
eMarketer: What creative works well there?
Fellows: What makes good content is hugely subjective. The one thing that we would ask is, “Is this an interruptive experience?” This is classic advertising. We would strongly advise two things: One, the content should be of a very high production quality and interesting; second, the advertisers should provide a significant amount of variety around their commercial messages. When looking at online storytelling, it’s a best practice to look at the propensity of the audiences to watch two, three, four videos in a row. There are some advertisers that make just one creative and expect to repeat that. That’s not good for the advertiser, and it’s not good for the viewer either.
eMarketer: What type of video ads are most effective?
Fellows: Pre-roll is the most effective. There’s an enormous amount of deliberate confusion as to what constitutes a video ad. Some publishers are trying to have videos in-banner and claiming that’s video. To me, that’s not really a video ad. A video ad is when a user has chosen to watch a video on our platforms.