Every day, there are over 4 billion video views on YouTube.  Further, 300 hours of video footage are uploaded to YouTube every minute making it one of the top websites worldwide. YouTube is a great platform for advertising, however, most advertisers fail to use it effectively because they wait till the end of the ad before mentioning their brand at all.

YouTube displays video advertisements in the form of “pre-rolls”. These are advertisements that play before videos on YouTube. There are two types of YouTube pre-rolls ads, skippable and non-skippable. Skippable ads can be skipped after 5 seconds of the ad has played, while, as the name suggests, non-skippable ads play in their entirety (generally 30 seconds).

The best thing about YouTube pre-rolls is that advertisers only pay when a viewer has viewed the ad for at least 30 seconds or until completion. This means minimal media waste because advertisers only pay for FULL views, which translates to large reach for a relatively low cost.

Video ads are extremely effective at communicating information quickly and efficiently. Video ads are also brilliant at building brand awareness because advertisers can display multiple distinctive assets at once (visual and audible). In most cases advertisers only have 5 seconds before a viewers can skip the ad (and generally 70% of viewers click “Skip Ad”), so how do we make the most of YouTube creative?

In the first 5 seconds of a YouTube Advertisement:

  1. Show the logo
  2. Mention the brand name
  3. Display the product
  4. Use a jingle / other distinctive audio brand asset
  5. Use an overlay / annotation to create a strong call to action

This seems so obvious, however, most advertising agencies waste clients money by treating creative like an elaborate joke, with an anatomy of: Unbranded Setup, Unbranded Story Development, Unbranded Punchline, followed by 1 Second of Brand. YouTube Pre-Rolls should be constructed by inverting the pyramid, the same way in which news is inverted: Tell the whole brand story in five seconds, then spend the next 25 seconds reinforcing and fleshing out the brand story. The vast majority of planners, creatives and sadly, advertisers, would never dream of “spoiling” their creative with such a blatant brand plug, however PENSO exists to drive brand growth with distinctive, memorable and heavily branded advertising.

To explain our point, the majority of YouTube pre-roll ads don’t mention the brand until the last few seconds (see below). A great example of how YouTube ads should be done is GEICO’s most recent series of pre-rolls. The brand is announced and seen from the beginning: “You can’t skip [the] ad because it’s already over”.

Never leave your brand until last.


David Jones Christmas 2014 (A terrible advertisement)

Qantas (Almost completely unbranded)

Budweiser (lovely film, but it’s meant to be an ad, not a short film festival entry)

Budget Direct








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