If you play or work in or about the online advertising community you know what pre-roll is. It’s a commercial that appears before a video. There is also post-roll — a commercial that appears after the video. Now there is mid-roll. Mid-roll began when TV channels replayed their episodes online, separating viewing segments by :30 spots, as on TV.
Today, YouTube and Google announced a mid-roll unit that begins 15 seconds into a video, and appears silently on the bottom 20% or so of the screen as an overlay. It is a quiet, see-through video banner ad that clicks through to a longer form selling story. Yahoo and Google have both tested the unit and predict it clicks through at rates 5-10 times higher than banner ads.
To quote Zack de la Rocha “Oh sh*t I got a head rush.” This is a Pandora’s Box that is about to make serious waves in the business of social computing. It seems like an elegant solution, e.g., silent, small, short in duration, but I’m betting there will be user backlash if this approach becomes too ubiquitous — and it’s not going to be pretty for Google. Google, don’t forget from whence you came.