Jan 13, 2017 - Economy

Slow your pre-roll: Short videos becoming less popular

Analytics firm Parse.ly finds that user engagement for posts with short video is significantly less than short-form posts, slideshows and long-form posts.


  1. Auto-play: Visitors are silencing or pausing videos because of the disruption
  2. Slow load times: Videos take longer to load, causing viewers to bounce
  3. Market saturation: Publishers are scrambling to create more pre-roll inventory

Digiday spoke with several publishers who echoed Parse.ly's findings, saying that short-form video views on Facebook have been cut in half, likely due to the fact that video is becoming cheaper to produce.

Smart take: The drive to create scalable video stems from business needs, not reader demand. Publishers can place high premiums on pre-roll ads because they sell out so quickly, particular among larger brands. The New York Times, for example, won't even offer advertisers the ability to geo-target pre-roll because it sells out so quickly at the national level, usually by the end of the summer.

What's next: Publishers will invest in alternative post formats.

  1. Live video: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, AOL and Instagram have all rolled out live video platforms in the past year. Facebook even recommends that users of their live platform run videos for at least ten minutes, in order to be algorithmically favored.
  2. Long-form posts: A 2016 Pew study found that while long-form and short-form posts have similar reach, users engage with long-form content more than twice as much as short-form posts.
  3. Slide shows: The Parse.ly study says slideshows are a cost-effective alternative to video. This is especially true for retail and fashion advertisers looking to display different attributes of products. Case-in-point: Parse.ly tells Axios that this Vogue Magazine slideshow of celebrities' outfits at the Met Gala last year was one of the most trafficked pieces of content on the internet in 2016.
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