In 2021, advertising with video online is king. You can stream video ads almost anywhere, including company websites. There is educational video, mobile video, video carousel ads, interactive video, explainer video, etc. The digital video inventory gets bigger every year, and the average video ad spend does too.
Marketers should consider best practices for the entire lifecycle of a video ad campaign. The Creative, Storytelling, Production and Distribution of digital video ads have best practices that take an idea and turn it into a dazzling video that exceeds client and ROI expectations.
Creative Best Practices
- Align your stakeholders: Digital video is booming but hypercompetitive. Innovative ways to stand out and the machinations of the primary digital video advertising platforms continue to develop. Whether a brand is making one video or saturating the waves, a new level of marketing expertise is required to guide stakeholders through the many options they have. One size does not fit all. Each channel has its language and culture, and the most effective video ads are customized to thrive in each specific environment. Align your stakeholders on a creative video strategy.
- Know your target audiences: Never before has the personalization of ad campaigns been so easy. Traditional demographic data along with real-time online analytics allow marketers to know their prospects better than their mothers. Each audience responds to a different creative approach.
- Hold well-managed brainstorming sessions: Assemble your top creative talent, put them in a room (or Zoom, if you must), and hold inclusive, open, and documented brainstorming meetings that are a free-flow exchange of ideas.
- Write an alluring logline and synopsis: The material goal of your brainstorming sessions should be to produce a pitch sheet with a great logline and detailed synopsis of the story your video tells. The logline and synopsis are the foundation of the following two stages – Storytelling and Production.
- Conduct due diligence on how to create a real-world video production budget: At the end of the Creative stage, make a production budget. You and your production partners will revise the initial budget multiple times as the video campaign progresses. Familiarize yourself with the equipment and language of scriptwriting, video production, and, to the most significant degree possible, the tricks of the trade to keep your project budget from spinning out of control. If you hire a video production company, they will have their budget to reconcile with yours.
Video Storytelling Best Practices
- Hire professional writers: To maximize the success of your video, partner with people whose expertise is words. Many people listen to video ads without watching them, so every word counts. Prospects should be able to understand your product and brand message even if they’re listening to it from the next room. The screenwriter and the production crew speak a common language.
- Use the “Rule of Three” to tell the hero’s journey: Your hero is your customer. Tell their story in three acts: The Separation (beginning), Initiation (middle), and Return (end). The brand is the guide that helps the hero “Slay the Monster” or accompanies them on “The Quest.”
- Create “silent” visual stories: Many people watch videos without sound. Your video storytelling should be easy to understand with no sound and have an emotional impact without voices and music, both accelerators of engagement. The video content should stand on its own.
- Hook the viewer early: In the case of a digital video ad, hook the viewer in the first five seconds. We’ve all waited impatiently to click past an ad after a five-second countdown to get to the main content. Not every ad has a countdown clock, but marketers should proceed as if they are. A Facebook analysis of video marketing shows an almost 25% increase in brand awareness retention in videos that feature the brand in the first five seconds. Even if the viewer skips the ad, it still has enormous power.
- 30-second videos are the sweet spot: Once again, each advertising channel is different, but digital video ads that are 30 seconds or less are the most effective and have the highest completion rate as a general rule. Yes, videos of other lengths are important, and some have greater engagement on specific platforms, but 30-second video ads are the most popular.
Video Production Best Practices
- Hire a professional video production company: Video production is like getting your arm caught in a threshing machine. A video campaign can end in ruin if the quality of the ad doesn’t meet audience satisfaction. In addition, advancements in technology allow production professionals to create more for less money.
- Listen to the pros: Video directors, editors, production designers, and other above-the-line talent are professional visual storytellers and know how to convert your 30-second script into an eye-grabbing brand bonanza.
- Make sure your video has professional high-quality pictures and sound that is in sync with the video: Shooting video and syncing it with audio is complex, and many video productions end in disaster because the content lacks technical proficiency. Your target audiences may tune out if a viewer hears background noise or air conditioner noise instead of the brand’s advertising objective.
- The higher the shooting ratio, the better: The shooting ratio is the amount of video footage you shoot vs. the amount you use. Your video ad will be many ads cut from the same footage, or, if you have a large budget, multiple ads cut into many versions. Strive to have as high of a shooting ratio as your budget, time, and talent allows. Give editors as many hours of video as possible to assemble an unforgettable brand message.
- Almost anything can happen in an editing room: Once your footage is “in the can”, the creative process begins again. Yes, the editors cut and splice to client expectations, but as professional storytellers they can produce brand new spots not previously conceived, solve technical failures that may have occurred during shooting, and are masters of accommodating last minute client changes and additions. “Fix it in the editing room” is an expression for a reason.
Digital Video Distribution Best Practices
- Hook the viewer with more than the story: You want your video’s story to hook the viewer in the first five seconds. Bolster those chances and enhance the user experience and increase retention by adding product photos, brand logos, other eye-catching graphics, and captions.
- Optimize your video’s length and format for whichever social media platform on which it will/ run: All of the social media networks have different, ever-evolving technical specifications and algorithms. Analysis of video ads proves video ad formats, and other video ad specs impact the success of an online video. It takes extra effort to customize video advertising campaigns but your average conversion rate increases when video content fits with the channel and its regular users.
- Mobile video ads are different: Keep in mind that a social network’s technical specifications may differ between “desktop” and “mobile/tablet” versions. Users’ viewing patterns vary as well. Mobile users have an average attention span that is short, so they respond to shorter videos. Most mobile users prefer vertical videos to landscape videos. While “mobile-first” ad spending is not as dedicated as overall video ad spends, mobile use and mobile-preferred user-generated video content platforms like TikTok are rising. Knowledge of the mobile ad space is critical to leverage video’s power entirely.
- Test, Test, Test! Digital advertising platforms such as Google AdWords allow you to place different types and lengths of video ads on multiple platforms/sites. After a test run, analytics provided by the advertising platforms show which ads perform the best and on which channels. Marketers can adjust campaigns to maximize ROI.
- Get the data: The most nerve-wracking part of any ad campaign is waiting to get the data that will tell you whether or not you’ve struck gold or struck out. Not only can you test your ads as described above, but the volume and depth of online analytics guarantee that no guesswork will be necessary to determine success or not. Get the data. Analyze it. Synthesize it. Then make course corrections as necessary.