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4 Data-Backed Video Advertising Best Practices

This post previously appeared in MarketingLand. 

Video has caught on with performance advertisers across industries, but as the ad format becomes much more prevalent, it’s arguably harder to break through to users themselves. Digital marketers need to be keenly aware of what gets attention and generates conversions.

Here are several video advertising best practices, with some of our latest data to back them up:

1. Don’t Neglect The Thumbnail

To capture user attention within the context of a social media news feed, it’s imperative that your video thumbnail be a compelling one.

What makes for a great thumbnail? Think visually rich or action-packed images such as the examples below:

Video ad thumbnailsThe impact of an appealing image can pay substantial dividends. One advertiser in our study found that, regardless of the varying underlying creative, video ads featuring a particularly colorful and action-oriented thumbnail performed significantly better than other units:

  • Costs per action — 26% lower
  • Conversion rates — 8% higher

2. Experiment With In-Video CTAs

Mobile gaming video ad cta

A video ad is a unique opportunity to better introduce potential customers to your brand or re-engage acquired users. In either case, it’s worth using proper testing methodologies to investigate the effectiveness of different call-to-action options for different user groups:

  • In-video CTA
    • These are part of the video itself. They may include a clickable URL or a screen within the video (e.g., a picture of the product with a 25-percent-off promotion).
  • Verbal CTA
    • A subset of the in-video CTA, a verbal CTA is spoken by a single narrator or host, prompting users to take an action.
  • End card CTA
    • These are the CTAs you see on the final portion of a video. Your approach could include a written CTA (e.g., “download now”), and/or links to older videos or social media pages.

Some advertisers have had success using a combination of CTAs within a single video. Looking to re-engage previous customers, one company’s in-house marketing team used both a verbal and end-card CTA for a specific creative set and saw better click rates as opposed to similarly targeted creative using just one CTA method:

  • Click-through rate — 26% higher

In another instance, one gaming advertiser paired its new user campaigns with a video incorporating a variety of three-second clips of game play — capping the video with a simple call to action for downloading the game. The results turned out to be very favorable compared with other prospecting-focused creative from the advertiser that showcased just one lengthy clip or placed the CTA closer to the beginning of the video:

  • Conversion rate — 22% higher
  • Click-through rate — 12% higher

3. Feature Compelling Content And Images Within The First 3 Seconds

With autoplay, users are likely to see your ad on mute — so it’s imperative you catch their attention before they scroll right past your video.

In a 2015 study from Locowise, the average Facebook video view totaled just 18.2 seconds, despite the average video length being 55.3 seconds. That same study underscored how much harder it is for the average paid video to keep users’ attention as compared to organic content — most notably in a 39% lower rate of video completion.

Along the same lines as why an eye-catching thumbnail image is important, for videos using autoplay, we’ve found that those first three seconds are the only way you can hope to really capture a user’s attention. Additionally, if you’re able to condense your message down to a 15-second video, it’s much more likely to be viewed all the way to your end CTA.

Video advertising example

We’ve seen that video ads employing fast cuts, close-ups or action shots typically perform best in this environment. One e-commerce site used a rapid succession of detailed, naturally lit shots of its products in use to draw viewers in. This creative helped capture customers at much better rates than other creative options:

  • Cost-per-acquisition — 36% lower
  • Conversion rate — 249% higher

4. Get Testing!

On Facebook, the largest social media advertising platform around, the video format is no longer new. Prospective customers are likely to see several video ad placements in their news feeds per day, at the very least.

For some context, in Q4 2015 advertiser spending on Facebook video ad units went up by more than 40 percent from the previous quarter.

These tips should help springboard your tactical considerations, but remember to test and confirm what works best for your business and target market.

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