As a marketer, you always want to be ahead of the curve.
The most effective tactics are always the ones that the majority of marketers either haven’t adopted yet or haven’t been successful with yet.
One of the current tactics that fall into that category is the use of video in advertising.
Very few marketers have tried to create video ads, but that will change in the coming years.
The consumption of video in general is growing at a rapid pace. Over half (55 percent) of people watch at least one video a day. Some watch several dozen.
In order to make revenue from the videos they host, video sites (e.g., YouTube, Dailymotion, etc.) have a few options.
They can overlay some text ads. It doesn’t generate much revenue for them, so they don’t do this if they have a better option.
That better option is to play a paid video advertisement before playing the video a user clicked to watch.
Guess how much better these are.
One analysis found that users are 27 times more likely to click on a video ad than a regular ad.
Do I need to say more?
Although video sites are starting to get a wider inventory of video ads to play, they’re not even close to being saturated.
There are still plenty of text ads being shown because the sites have no other option.
On top of that, the video ads that they do have are often shown for unrelated videos (a bad thing) because they’re the best they have right now.
This is your opportunity to learn how to create effective video ads and reap the rewards while you still can.
I’ve created a full guide to creating YouTube video ads in the past.
But today, I want to take it further. If you understand the basics of video ads, it’s time to create video ads that perform even better than you thought they could.
We’re going to look at 6 different ways that you can make video ads that convert better than you ever thought possible.
A quick look at where video ads are most effective: Before we dive in, you need to understand where video ads are used best.
The biggest key component of an effective video ad network is the size of its audience. Some of the tips in this post require a large potential audience so that you can narrow your targeting down and still have an audience left.
There are two main video advertising networks that fulfill this condition: YouTube and Facebook.
I’ll be writing the rest of this post mostly with Facebook and YouTube video advertising in mind although most of the information will apply to other networks as well.
Don’t be afraid to try out video advertising on other networks, but I recommend starting on one of these two.
They are big enough to have just about every audience you can imagine, including yours.
Let’s look at the 6 tips now.
1. Take full advantage of custom audience options
Like I mentioned before, many video ads are being shown to users who are not actively interested in the advertised product.
While some of those advertisements are purely for brand recognition, the mismatch between the ad and the viewer interest highlights a bigger issue.
Say you were running an advertisement for a new car. In which situation do you think the ad would perform better?
Shown before a video about home decorating.
Shown before a video clip from Top Gear (a show about cars).
It’s pretty clear that the second option is better.
You’ll have a targeted audience of car buyers, who are expecting to watch a video about cars. That’s doubly good!
When someone is planning to watch a video about home decorating and on comes a video about a new car, they’re not happy—understandably—and skip it as soon as possible.
The first major thing that you can do to lower your ad prices and improve your click-through rate is to improve your targeting.
Not only should you use targeting to make sure your ads are being shown to your actual target audience, but you should segment your audience further so that different parts of your audience see different ads.
Let’s look at some common effective examples of segmenting audiences.
Possible group #1 – Potential customers who are aware of brand or product: Your highest conversion rates when selling a product will always be from people who have heard of your brand or product.
Many in this audience just need a little nudge to get them to make a purchase.
You can target these people if you’re active on the platforms you’re advertising on.
For example, you can target people who have already “liked” your Facebook page:
If someone’s done that, they probably have a good idea of what your products are and why someone might want them.
To advertise effectively to this segment, you need to create video ads that show your product doing something great for them.
If you were selling a personal finance tool, you would show in your ad how someone saved hundreds of dollars using the tool.
That will give your viewers the nudge they need to make a purchase.
Possible group #2 – No brand recognition, but interest in your type of product: This group refers to people who don’t know you, your brand, or your products.
However, they have an interest in your industry.
If I was selling a link building tool, I could target people with an interest in SEO.
Facebook and YouTube both have this type of targeting, and most other video advertising platforms do as well.
But remember that targeting is just one part of the equation. You also have to choose what to show your audience.
Since they don’t know you or your products, your first goal with these types of ads shouldn’t be to get the viewers to buy your products right away.
Instead, create a short, interesting video that teaches them something about your niche.
Going back to my SEO example…I wouldn’t even mention a link building tool, but I could create a video that showed that someone was able to rank #1 using a technique I created in the past.
Then, I would link to a detailed case study from the video.
Guess what would be in that case study?
That’s right, a mention of my product—the link building tool. The case study would also give the readers an opportunity to sign up for an email list.
Alternatively, you could link to a landing page from the video, asking viewers to opt in to an email list to receive the full report. Either option could work well.
The point is to establish contact, expose your potential customers to your product and brand, and get them on an email list. Then, you would continue sending them free content, and eventually you can target them like I showed you above in group #1.
Possible group #3 – Target by location: You should only target your video ad to countries and locations that you actually sell to. It sounds like common sense, but many businesses neglect to do it.
On top of that, you can also improve your results by creating videos for specific audiences.
For example, let’s say you sell a lawn care tool.
You wouldn’t want to show the same video ad to Australians, who have warm weather year round, and to Canadians, who have drastically different seasons.
To the Australians, you’d want to emphasize such features as durability and year-round suitability.
To the Canadians, you’d want to emphasize such features as easy storage during the colder months.
Take a second to think about your product and the different locations of your customers (cities, states, provinces, countries, etc.).
Do people in those different locations vary in how much they care about the features you offer?
If so, create specific video ads for each location. You might be able to reuse ads for different locations with a bit of clever editing.
Possible group #4 – Sell to multiple countries? Cover your languages: This type of grouping relates to the last point.
Did you know that you can target users based on language?
If you sell to people in countries that use two or more languages, you should be creating video ads in multiple languages and targeting by language.
If you’re only targeting the main language, you might be missing out on a solid chunk of your potential market.
Recognize the unique properties of your products: The last two groups I showed you won’t apply to every product out there.
But they illustrate an important concept.
Targeting depends on analyzing your potential audience and determining how different parts of that audience think.
Then, you’ll need to find a way to target specific portions of your target audience and create ads specifically for them.
I’ve shown you four possible groups, but there are dozens for all major ad networks. Don’t be afraid to go beyond these four.
2. All good video ads take on an interesting angle: Start with the concept
Some businesses are finally starting to “get it.”
For video ads to be successful, they need to be interesting.
When they’re done right, video ads can actually be shared and go viral. There are many cases that prove this.
While you may not have the budget of any of those companies, that doesn’t mean you can’t reach a large audience with an interesting advertisement.
How do you make an interesting video ad? The first thing you need to do is forget the word “advertisement.”
Yes, you’re paying to display it, but beyond that, your advertisement is just a video.
For some reason, many marketers think an ad needs to shove a product in someone’s face, which just isn’t true.
The vast majority of people on YouTube and Facebook are watching videos for entertainment, so if your video isn’t entertaining, they are going to ignore it or skip it as soon as possible.
And getting pitched a product is not entertaining, so don’t do it.
Instead, create or find an interesting story to tell.
Let me walk you through an example.
Fanpage.it is an Italian news site of sorts, so they focus mainly on current issues.
They were able to create a video, advertise it, and then have it go viral with over 2.3 million views:
They started with a concept. In this case, they thought about a way to make a video about attitudes towards violence against women interesting.
It might seem a little sad that it’s not enough for the subject matter to be important, that it has to be interesting, but the reason I’ve repeated it a few times is because it’s crucial to your success.
There are many ways to make something interesting:
- tell a story
- make it funny
- make it surprising
- make it unusual
In this case, they combined most of these elements.
They introduced a girl to several boys and asked them about her. At the end, they asked them to slap the girl. The boys, of course, innocently said that they would never do that.
I was glued to my screen for the entire 3 minutes, and it took me from smiling to thinking about the issue at hand.
The biggest concern marketers have is whether this approach is effective or not. How does an engaging story translate into page views and revenue?
If you’re able to tell a story, with your product being at the center of it, people will want it and seek it out.
Although Fanpage.it wasn’t constantly saying, “We have the best content on social issues out there; visit us now!”—viewers still made that connection.
They understand that if they want clever, entertaining, and thought-provoking content, they should click through to the site.
Telling an interesting story is not easy. That’s why the people who are great at it are paid well.
However, it’s a skill like any other that can be developed. I’ve written extensively about it in the past:
- How to Leverage Storytelling to Increase Your Conversions
- How to Engage and Persuade People Through Storytelling
- Tell Your Brand’s Story
3. Know when you need professional help
The thing that scares most marketers away from video advertising is that they can’t do it themselves.
Although you could try to make one with your iPhone (or whatever you use), chances are the video would suck.
And that’s just a basic video. When you consider animation, editing, and voiceovers, it’s just too much for a marketer to learn how to do.
That’s what scares marketers.
We love to do everything, including marketing, sales, product development, and just about anything else that needs to be done.
But creating a high quality video isn’t something that you can learn in a few days or even months.
And if you want to be successful with video advertising, quality has to come first.
People expect almost television-like quality for any video they watch:
This means that your video must have:
- no blurriness
- good lighting
- no background noises or echoes
- no stuttering or unclear speech
You need to recognize when you are out of your depth and bring in professionals to supplement your marketing expertise.
Putting together a high quality video: A video ad might only be 15 seconds long, but it can often take hours to make.
It will depend on the kind of video you are creating, of course, but a ton of work goes into creating even short videos.
The first step is to decide what type of video you’d like to create.
There are two main types of video ads.
The most common is a standard video with actors in it.
However, animated videos are really popular, particularly if you’re creating a tutorial or an educational video:
Your next step is to hire a professional to help you. This will include:
- freelance animators
- video creators (videographers)
- video editors
As a marketer, you can probably handle the script writing yourself, but that’s another area you could potentially get some help with.
Video editors and animators are very easy to find online. Just browse for them (or post a job ad) on any of the following freelance job boards:
However, if you’re looking to include actors in the video, you’ll have to find local videographers.
Unfortunately, you can’t effectively narrow down the location of videographers on those freelance sites.
Instead, I recommend going to LinkedIn.
Search for “videographer” or “freelance videographer” in the search bar, and narrow down the results using the “people” filter in the sidebar.
Finally, choose “Add” under the location filter, and type in your city:
Not only will you find local professionals, but you will also find people who have worked with some of your existing connections. That’ll allow you to ask your connections about their experiences with the professionals you are considering to hire.
After you’ve found someone to work with, you need to develop a video outline and script. Again, you can probably handle this if you have some experience with storytelling.
Once you’ve gone over these details with your freelancer(s), they will create the video for you. Make it clear that you’re happy to get involved when necessary and answer any questions.
The last thing you want is to be unhappy with the final video because it’s a pain (and expensive) to reshoot.
For the most part, trust your freelancers. If you’ve hired experienced professionals, they will know how to bring your vision to life.
Ideally, you want to establish a relationship with freelancers so that they can continue to create videos for you in the future. It will save you the time of having to find someone new every time you need a video created.
4. Shorter is usually better
You need to be careful, especially if you embrace the tips I’ve shown you so far.
It’s common to get excited about producing a video, aiming for the best, and end up with a video that’s 3, 5, or even 10 minutes long.
Keep in mind that when users see your ads, they see them before the content they actually want to see.
Even if your video is fairly entertaining, most will pick the “skip” option that comes up shortly after your video starts—especially if they see that there’s another 3 minutes to go.
As a general rule, keep your video ads under 1 minute long. Under 30 seconds is better.
This forces you to focus on the most important parts of your message.
According to one analysis, only 36 percent of video ads are longer than 30 seconds.
Further, 13 percent are shorter than 15 seconds, which means that 51 percent of ads are between 15 and 30 seconds long. Aim for that range whenever possible.
The good news is that if you are able to keep your ad within that range, people will usually watch your full video.
The same research found that 79 percent of video ads are watched to their middle points, and 72 percent are watched to the very end. This means that if you can intrigue your viewers in the first half of your ad, almost all of them will stick with you to the end.
5. Videos may be different, but you can (and should) split test them
To edit a landing page, you need to click only a few buttons.
To edit an image, you need to do a bit more.
Video is far more complicated to edit than images or landing pages.
That’s why most marketers produce a video ad, put it out there, and hope for the best.
But you know me—I like to measure and improve everything. And I hope that you have a similar attitude.
When it comes to ads of any kind, including video ads, you must split test.
What’s split testing? A quick answer: If you’ve never done split testing, it’s a simple but powerful concept.
Most things are not optimized when you first create them.
What you can do is create two versions of something and then send visitors to both versions.
By measuring the results, you can see which version performs better.
Typically, you’ll use A/B split testing, which helps you learn about which elements work and don’t work.
With A/B testing, both versions are exactly the same, except for one change.
That way, you know that any difference in the results is caused by that one change. Then, you keep the better performing version and do a new test with a different element.
I’ve written a complete guide to split testing if you’d like a detailed guide; otherwise, let’s move on to how you would do split testing for your video ads.
Step #1 – Identify major elements: The reason why most marketers don’t split test video ads is because they know that editing a video is a pain.
But most split testing doesn’t even need to involve editing the video.
Start by looking at how your video ad will show up:
Then, make a list of the most important elements.
From the above, the most visible elements are:
- the description
- the video
- the brand name
You can’t change the brand name, and you probably don’t want to edit the video (although that’s an option), but you can change the description.
Let half of the audience view one version of the description, and let the other half view the other version.
Alternatively, you can also split test different targeting options.
For example, you could show the exact same ad to two different groups of people. You could divide them based on interests, behaviors, or demographic options.
This will tell you which audiences are best to target, and that information will help you create more effective video ads in the future.
Step #2 – Create different versions of the ad based on those elements: Once you know which element you will be changing (e.g., description or targeting options), all you need to do is create the two different ads and buy a similar number of views for each.
Step #3 – Decide which metrics are most important, and compare: Finally, the most important thing you need to do is decide what your goals for the video ad are.
Usually, it’s going to be cost per click-through. Sometimes, you’ll have to use your click-through rate percentage instead.
Once you have a valid sample size, you can compare the results and determine the winner.
A neat little tool to help you figure out the significance of your test is Isvalid.org.
Enter the number of samples for both the original and experiment videos as well as the conversions (clicks or whatever metric you’re using):
The tool will calculate the conversion rate of each test. More importantly, it will give you a significance rate (how often your conclusion will be correct) and a measure of how much better the winning test is:
Aim for a significance of at least 95%.
Remember that split testing typically gives you small improvements. However, those small improvements add up over time, so keep iterating and making changes until you’ve optimized your video ad.
6. Studies have shown that music impacts emotion—use it wisely
The final tip I have for you is to use music in your videos, but use it intelligently.
To begin with, always remember that videos are mainly focused on visual content. That should remain the main focus of your video ads.
However, music in the background can make your message more powerful.
The effect of music on mood: One study recruited subjects to determine what effect music has on our moods.
They found that both happy and sad music affects our perception. When subjects heard the happy music and then were shown a person with a neutral expression, they were more likely to say that the person was happy.
Conversely, the other subjects who heard sad music thought that the exact same person was sad.
Basically, we match our perception with the tone of music we hear.
The takeaway is simple:
If you want your viewers to feel a certain way during parts of your video, use music that corresponds to that feeling (e.g., sad music for a sad feeling).
You can use this to nudge viewers to feel happy, then sad, to make your video more impactful.
Music improves focus: You want your viewers to be glued to the screen while your ad is playing.
But if the ad has no sound, no matter how good your video is, most viewers will get bored and zone out.
A study looked at how listening to different sounds affects focus.
The researchers found that listening to either classical music, white noise, or silence improved visual attention. The greatest effect, however, was produced by classical music, followed by white noise. Silence produced the least effect.
Play some sort of music in the background throughout most of your ads to help your viewers pay attention to your video. If classical music suits the tone of your video, it’s probably the optimal choice.
Music should accent, not distract: Finally, there’s one more study about music and focus that you need to know about.
The researchers tested how music affected the rate of driving mistakes in teenagers.
The bottom line was that when the drivers got to pick their own music, they drove more aggressively and made more mistakes. It makes sense as they were more focused on the music than their environment.
On the other hand, when they listened to “safe” music that was picked by the researchers, they drove better.
Use music in your ads, but make sure it’s not so loud or catchy that your viewers focus more on the music than your video’s images.
Video advertising is one of the most exciting advertising opportunities that is still maturing.
If you take action right now, you will learn how to profit from video ads before the rest of marketers catch on.
I’ve shown you 6 key principles and tips of effective video ads that you can use to reach profitability quickly.
Once you have a profitable campaign, scale it up and enjoy the results.
I understand that creating video ads isn’t easy. So, if you have any questions, leave me a comment below, and I’ll try to clear things up.