How To Optimize Your Social Video Ads

August 17, 2017 - 10:43am
Brittany Ruiz

How To Optimize Your Social Video Ads
(with user experience in mind)

Advertising dollars are increasingly shifting from traditional to digital, and with good reason. Did you know that digital has surpassed traditional (TV, radio, print) as the most consumed media per day? And, within digital, video ad spending is growing at a faster pace than search and display? With this shift happening in media consumption and buying, it’s important to shift your creative processes as well.

Working in the digital space, specifically with social media, for the last five years has taught me the importance of putting the consumer first. Every strategy decision and piece of content that I make is driven by consumer experience. The way viewers consume your video on TV is going to be completely different than how they consume it on Facebook or YouTube, so why wouldn’t your creative be different as well? Each platform has different format requirements and limitations, and that will guide your video making efforts to an extent, but there are other important considerations for making the most effective video ads for social media. For the sake of time, and all of our attention spans, my tips will only pertain to the top social media players; Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

But First, Let Me Watch On Mobile

First and foremost, no matter which social platform your videos are going on, be sure to design them ‘mobile-first.’ This requires considering a small screen. It might be tempting to use your TV commercial or YouTube ad, both horizontally formatted videos, as is for all of your social ads and call it a day, but I would caution to do otherwise.

While the horizontal format is undoubtedly the most appealing creatively and timewise, it shouldn’t be your go-to for Facebook or Instagram. Horizontal videos take up the least amount of screen space on your phone, leaving valuable real estate to be occupied by others. The square video, on the other hand, takes up 78% more screen space. Just look at all of that real estate you could be wasting! Vertical video, while taking up the most space, is a more recent and unconventional option that users aren’t used to just yet, so I wouldn’t put all of your eggs in that basket. As with most creative, it’s best to test what works best with your target audience and campaign.

You Have ‘Til The Count Of Three

Or five, in YouTube’s case. It’s all too easy to skip video ads, or any ads for that matter, on social media. It can be done with an involuntary scroll or after the mandatory, daunting five seconds for pre-roll. This is why it’s of utmost importance that you frontload your videos with branding and key messaging. Or you can do the extreme, like Geico did with their ‘Unskippable’ campaign, and make your entire ad fit in the first five seconds.

It’s likely you’ve seen this campaign. It was Ad Age’s 2016 ‘Campaign of the Year.’ Let that sink in for a second, a pre-roll campaign was named ‘Campaign of the Year.’ What made this campaign so special? It’s ingenious creativity, which was fueled by putting the consumer first. While I am not advocating that you take the same route, as it would be a clear copy of Geico’s campaign, I am advocating that you take the same mindset.

I Can’t Hear You

For a long time, Facebook videos were automatically muted, contributing to why 85% of video views were without sound. Now that they are moving toward auto-play with sound (as long as your device’s volume is turned on), that percentage is likely to decrease. It’s still too early to tell by how much, but my hunch is that it won’t change drastically. On the contrary, 96% of YouTube ads are played with sound, which makes sense knowing that people go to the platform specifically to watch videos. So we won’t worry about YouTube.

However, for Facebook and Instagram, before I traffic any video I make sure it makes sense without sound since that is how most consumers will be watching it. Yes, Facebook has captions, but I have seen many videos where they are inaccurate or clash with the video creative. My suggestion would be, if your video needs captions, create the video to where they are integrated. This will rid of any chances of the aforementioned issues, and it gives you a chance to be more creative with the production.

There are countless considerations for creating the best digital video ads for your campaign. These are just, in my opinion, the most critical. It is also worth noting that, while I chose to focus on social media, these considerations are applicable to all platforms as they are rooted in user experience.

Comment below with your considerations for making more effective video ads. I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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