Sharethrough  (a native advertising platform), with the help of Nielsen and Nielsen's advertising metrics company Vizu, have conducted a study that shows native ads beat out pre-roll ads when it comes to brand lift.  A native ad is one that "marries" itself to the content that is already present on a page, blending seamlessly with content that may or may not originate with the publisher, such as promoted video.  Such ads have no limitations of length and are chosen by the user to watch, rather than being forced to watch it.  No surprise, the power of choice generally brings better brand lift than the forced-down-your-throat variety.

Sharethrough's Study on Native Ads Versus Pre-Roll

The study was conducted using 5 leading advertisers.  They took an ad and played it natively and took the same (only shorter) ad and played it on pre-rolls.  They found that the native ads outperformed the pre-roll with all 5 brands.

Native Video Ads Outperform Pre Roll Ads [Study] Nielsen Sharethrough native video infographic FINAL 606x606

As you can see from the infographic, native ads generated 82% brand lift (using Jarritos Mexican soda as the case study) among users exposed to them, compared to only 2.1% brand lift for pre-roll ads.  People exposed to pre-roll ads were also 29.3% more likely to respond to the brand "unfavorably" or "very unfavorably."  In another case study using a consumer packaged goods brand, native ads showed 42.2% brand lift compared to absolutely none using pre-roll ads, with 18.9% giving an "unfavorable" response.

What it all comes down to is choice.  No one likes things forced on them, and I would venture to say that the only way a forced ad is going to get anyone's attention is if it's entertaining immediately, which is hard to accomplish.  And when a video looks like a natural part of the website, with the promise of relevant content, and the viewer making a choice to watch it, then well, no kidding there's more brand favorability under those circumstances.

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We'd like to thank Sharethrough, Nielsen, and Vizu for their research!

  • Anna

    This may be a naive question, but what exactly is "brand lift" and how does one measure it?

    • David Childress


      I believe they are referring to an improvement in company name or product recognition by existing or potential customers after an event occurs (news, promo, or campaign). Measurement could be from survey style data (phone, focus, or interview) or from new, or an increase, in actions taken (views, likes, or buys).

      • Mark Robertson

        Is this THE David Hatcher Childress

  • Simon Crompton-Reid

    I tried to tell someone from Brightcove this 3 years ago, and was told that "most of our customers prefer pre-roll" To which I replied that their customers were mostly wrong.