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Facebook Video Ads: The Five Golden Rules

Written by: Shane O'Neill, Director of Content

Facebook receives about 8 billion daily video views and its users watch 100 million hours of video on Facebook every day.

The sheer volume of news feed videos certainly makes it a challenge for any video ad to stand out. With human attention spans peaking at 8 seconds, videos must be short, fast, and visually compelling.

That means that slickly-produced, 30-second TV commercials that take 10 seconds to get to the point will struggle for attention in crowded Facebook newsfeeds.

However, dwindling attention spans can be an asset for budget-conscious brands. If videos need only be 10-15 seconds, they don’t need to be shot with a $5,000 digital camera. They don’t need elaborate editing using Final Cut Pro. They don’t need a famous spokesperson. The fact is, Facebook video ads can be produced quickly and cheaply and still be very effective.

Here some best practices for standing out in a crowded field.

Embrace brevity

This year, three-quarters of all Facebook users will access the site on a mobile phone. This makes brevity more critical if you want to stop the thumbs of distracted mobile users.

To this end, Facebook recently published research on how quickly people stop watching different video ad types. Stories video ads have the quickest drop off, followed by newsfeed video ads. Facebook’s recommended length for standalone newsfeed ads is 15 seconds or shorter. But the company has also stated that 6-second ads showed “higher brand metrics across the board.”

We recommend following this advice and communicating your message in 5-6 seconds. And be sure to have clear, very brief copy (less than 20% of the ad) that enhances the message without getting in the way.

This video ad from Lysol communicates a lot of information quickly and efficiently.

Use humor to grab attention

When you’re competing with so many videos, humor can set you apart. It doesn’t matter if it’s an animated video, stop motion or live video. What matters most is that it gets to the funny fast.

Personally, this ad from American Standard made me chuckle. It’s a good example of using fast humor to get attention.

Show ‘em how to do something

Providing instructions on how to play a mobile game, prepare a meal, or assemble a chair doesn’t have to be time-consuming. A quick three-step visual teaser on how to do something can jump out at users and entice them to click/tap for more information.

Below is a classic example of a simple but effective instructional ad. The Lords Mobile ad provides quick previews of how to play the game. It made me want to know more (and play!).

Give it color, make it move

Sometimes the best way to stand out is with bright lights and flashiness. This approach is better suited for industries such as beauty, apparel, and sportswear where products personify vibrancy and action.

Here’s a fairly easy-to-produce ad from Sephora. It would make me stop my thumbs and watch just based on the frenetic visuals.

Make the ad look like it belongs

Facebook newsfeeds are now chock full of different videos, depending on the people, brands and news outlets you follow. But most videos are not produced on Madison Ave. or by a Hollywood studio. They’re likely to be grounded in reality, whether it’s a news story from the field or your cousin nailing a ski jump.

Facebook video ads should strive for the same low budget, spur-of-the-moment aesthetic.

This video ad from Bonobos gets it right. Its man-on-the-street style mashes up with a clear message: Bonobos suits are comfortable and stain repellent enough that you could wear them playing soccer.

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