Solve Media Debuts Pre-Roll Tool to Boost Online Video Ad Engagement

This week, advertising company Solve Media unveiled its latest product, which it calls “Pre-Roll Insurance.” The ad delivery mechanism offers viewers of online video the chance to quickly skip pre-roll ads – so long as they enter the phrase, word, or slogan of the advertiser or publisher’s choosing.

The addition is an extension of NYC-based Solve’s original product, its Type-In CAPTCHA replacement which substitutes a digital display ad for the standard warped-text entry field websites use to prove its visitors are human. Solve’s Type-In ads allow the company to charge its advertiser partners based on a cost-per-engagement metric, rather than the more standard cost-per-click or cost-per-impression models, since viewers have to actually register and take in the ad’s content, and then provide it back in a supplied input field.

Solve CEO and co-founder Ari Jacoby described the idea behind Solve’s Type-In ads as a response to talking to media buyers and finding that they’d much rather buy television than display ads, despite the potentially larger audiences often available online. Jacoby said that a lot of the reason that was true was because people had little reason to engage with online display ads – you can talk about a commercial with friends, he pointed out, but nobody discusses banner ads around the water cooler.

“What [advertisers] care about is memorability, because they have to differentiate their products on the shelves,” Jacoby said. “Recall is the biggest thing, and television does that for ads. Banners don’t, because they’re immediately forgotten.” Leveraging the need for CAPTCHA’s, which are omnipresent on the web to guard against misuse from bot programs, and the need for an advertising method that includes a mechanism to boost recall, Solve create the Type-In.

Jacoby said the company saw a similar weakness when it came to pre-roll advertising for online video. The problem was two-fold, Jacoby told us: first, Google’s use of the ads in YouTube content trains viewers to expect to be able to skip pre-roll ads. Second, viewers will do anything to ignore pre-roll ads that aren’t skippable, including navigating to a different browser tab while the ad plays through, temporarily muting their system or just not viewing the content at all.

To provide viewers with a third option, while delivering the same kind of engagement for advertisers and brands that its Type-In CAPTCHAs aim to provide, Solve came up with Pre-Roll Insurance, which requests that a user input a simple phrase or word of the advertiser’s choosing to bypass the pre-roll ad entirely and get right to the content. Competitors like SpotXchange include interactivity in pre-roll video advertisements and have claimed that such measures increase engagement, but Solve’s offering of a way to skip pre-roll ads altogether does seem like it’ll be more appealing to the average viewer.

Out of the gate, Solve already has some high-profile customers for the new product, including Toyota, AOL, Expedia and General Motors. But long-term, the company will have to prove to potential partners that its technique of convincing users to look at, digest and then reproduce a specific piece of pertinent information really does have more to offer than traditional internet advertising. And with primetime viewing increasingly shifting online, the need for a form of online marketing that can match TV ads in terms of effectiveness is more urgent than ever.

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