Note: A version of this article was originally posted on Marketing Land.
Video advertising creative is perhaps the most painstaking for advertisers to deal with during the planning and production stages. While there’s no magic formula to creating the “best” video ad, direct response-focused advertisers are inherently test-oriented, and will eventually find creative that works well within their target audiences against their larger objective.
One thing we can learn from looking at aggregate advertiser data is that the best performing video ads for a given vertical generally fall within a narrow duration, and typically share a few commonalities.
As a note, the sample for this study consists of Facebook video advertising activity originating from 10 of the respective highest spending gaming and ecommerce video advertisers using Nanigans. Ads studied were those run by the sampled advertisers at any point from September 1, 2016 through February 28, 2017.
What’s the ideal length for gaming video ads?
Let’s first focus on the gaming vertical, which are collectively the largest spenders on video advertising within the direct response ecosystem.
Video ad length for these advertisers is most frequently 11 to 20 seconds long, with 62% of all studied gaming video ad creative within this 10-second range. An additional 10% of video creative for gaming advertisers comes in at 31 to 35 seconds long.
While the above graph outlines how gaming advertisers structure the length of the creative, marketers care most about conversion rates. In the case of gaming, this relates to installs. To quantify this metric by video length, aggregated click-to-install conversion rates were calculated for each length of video, and then weighted by total spend for that video length across the studied advertisers.
The result pointed to some interesting findings. Despite 16- to 20-second videos being the most popular length for gaming advertisers by more than 150%, conversion rates were only moderately higher than 21- to 25-second, or 31 to 35-second ads.
Of course, these insights are correlative, not causative. Just making a poor-performing 14-second gaming ad a 20-second ad isn’t likely to increase your conversion rate by itself. However, in the course of the analysis, there were a few similar characteristics of the best performing video gaming ads.
- Focus creative on the game’s “greatest hits” – ads that simply showed gameplay in a continuous fashion, or as a kind of tutorial weren’t as well received. Focusing on a series of exciting, colorful, or dramatic sequences tended to be associated with increased conversion rates
- Minimal in-ad CTAs – ads relying on the CTAs present within the Facebook ad unit itself tended to perform better
- In-market creative testing and segmentation – Better identify what creative resonates with different target user segments
Do longer video ads drive sales?
Unlike their gaming counterparts, the length of ecommerce video ads tends to be much more widely distributed, and comparatively weights more toward longer lengths. The 16- to 20-second range is still popular, but only accounts for 20% of ecommerce video creative. Meanwhile, 42% of ad creative in this group was between 21- and 35-seconds in length. This may be due to more complex value propositions, in convincing someone to purchase or subscribe to a service, as compared to simply downloading a game.
For ecommerce advertisers, the 16- to 20-second length boasted the best conversion rate, but longer video ads weren’t far behind. 26- to 35-second lengths lagged behind the top conversion rate by moderate, but not significant amounts in aggregate.
With a wider variance in target markets and value propositions, the differences between ads were larger within ecommerce as compared to gaming. Regardless, there were a few qualitative aspects to the best performing creative that were represented across a few advertisers in the sample.
- Unique visuals – Some of the best performing creative for ecommerce advertisers had a unique look and feel. This included a static image with a video playing within, or some dramatically sped up product usage
- Consider testing silent versions – A number of advertisers experimented with the same creative featuring sound and without, and the silent editions tended to perform better
- Experiential rather than descriptive – Videos visualizing the experience of using the product were generally well received from a conversion standpoint
These data points should help shape the direction of your video creative, particularly as you look to test against different audience segments. Just like any ad type, be sure to test a few variations on length and format, as the effectiveness is likely to differ across your various user segments.
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