Video advertising - a guide

Hanh Ha

Online video advertising is no longer just Youtube’s domain, we are getting more familiar with video ads on all digital platforms from social media such as Facebook or Instagram to game apps.  However, obviously not all digital video advertising can be ‘viral’ which begs the question: “How can I make an online video with the success of, say, Gangnam Style?”. Don’t worry darling! You are in the right place!

Stay still.

Absorb and apply the tips that I am gonna reveal...

What are you waiting for? Let’s start!

Storytelling beats sales pitches any day of the week

For real! Most of us want to be ‘told but not sold’ - we all want to buy products or services but darn if we don’t like feeling shoehorned into it... A video ad with a cohesive story is a more effective way to ‘trick’ your audience psychologically than simply convincing them that you are just trying to provide the best for them. 

Aldi’s We Like video ads can be a good example to demonstrate this point. 90% of the grocer’s video ads have stories and special characters which helps Aldi become a chameleon to its customers and resolve scepticism about its product quality. Talking about Aldi, we now don’t just mention it as a budget grocer but also as the home of Kevin the Carrot or our beloved Jean – the iconic gin-lover. How on Earth could we expect people to hunt out the last of the sprouts and tomatoes in Aldi’s Knutsford store at Christmas just to save  Kevin?! Aldi aced it with their own stories without any (obvious)  sales pitch and so could you...

Remember: people love stories relating to them. Thus, you need to understand your customers’ lives, their hopes, frustrations and values before writing down a story and building that story as a solution in what they’re looking for. You don’t need to create a whole universe like Marvel’s! Just keep it down to Earth and basic, yet thoroughly human.

Voice, tone, music, Tinder

Wait! Tinder?. Questioning why I added Tinder to the second tip, aren’t you?. Let me ask you one question. How long does it take you to skip one online video ad on any platform?.

After the lifesaver “Skip Ads” appears (at shortest 5 seconds at longest 10 seconds) you’d be forgiven for hammering that magic button. This is absolutely common as 65% of us skip online video ads. The rest can be because the audience find them interesting, they fall asleep during the ads or they are the ones creating the ads…

       But isn’t it similar to how we swipe others on Tinder?.

Basically, you need to engage people right there and then within the first 5 seconds, or they’ll be gone forever.

For narrative videos, voice and tone are important as they affect viewers’ impression of the ad. Just remember to keep the narrators’ voice appropriate to the message you’re trying to get across. Background music is essential too but it should not be too loud to fight against the narrator’s voice. Sub-titles should be considered in case some viewers may mute the video, and this is much more prevalent on Facebook where we’d consider subtitles a necessity.

In terms of Tinder factor, evoking viewers’ curiosity through teasers and questions based on your customers’ pain points or aspirations can help them stay longer and even end up clicking the hyper-link provided in the video. Bromley House’s ad - I Found it in the Library is a good example to illustrate how we can evoke the viewers’ curiosity with its story about a hidden library. Who wouldn’t want to discover hidden things?. As the video starts with a question and slowly leads viewers to explore the library diminishes the fact that they are watching an ad but making a journey to a hidden place. In other words, the more engaging and intriguing the videos are, the more likely people are to, in Tinder terminology, ‘swipe right’.

Be memorable, be fun and be a USB

The recipe for most viral videos out there is a pinch or two of humour. Watching someone bang on about how their business is ‘so different and special’ is downright dreary if it doesn’t relate to the end customer. 

But guess what, people can spend hours watching ads about the adventure of Kevin the carrot or a fun working environment allowing dogs and kids in Distinct Recruitment’s video. I mean only 8% of the UK employees have their companies allow them to take kids and pets to their workplace. Seeing them appear in that environment seems odd but unexpectedly fun to most of us, doesn’t it?. That’s how Distinct Recruitment seasonings its video with fun. 

Bringing excitement, humour and thrills to your stories will arouse viewers’ interests and boost their journey to your website or stores faster. But remember: Only do the things which come naturally to your brand, otherwise it’ll feel forced and fake.

Your video ads can be educational too, of course. And we would say the best ones are both fun and entertaining whilst answering the audience’s questions about the world in which they live.  The CACI’s Halo effect video is a good example for this when both education and entertainment elements are included in the story through showcasing how CACI can help companies to seek a suitable location for their businesses through fun characters with positive effects. If you have a USB (unique selling benefit) you can include this as part of this video to continue to entice the audience.

SEO on every platform

Never forget that SEO appears in every digital platform, even game apps. Thus, before spreading your video ads on digital platforms, you should take your social media marketing strategies and your campaign’ objectives into the video ad creation.

Each platform has their own preference so make sure you optimise your videos and make them SEO-friendly on all channels.  Eventually, your campaign’s goals and objectives measure how effective and successful your video ads are. Identifying your goals and objectives for higher sales or more online presence will help you determine more SEO-friendly tags, keyword and overall content, for this you need data in the form of metrics/analytics for past performances. Our ViralPixel system can take into account your competitor’s ads and organic content in order to see what’s hot in your niche right now.

To build a strong and engaging video ad, we offer video services from ideation and research all the way to distribution to help you stand out from 5 billion Youtube videos and ads that are currently out there. Just give us a shout :-)

Hanh Ha


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