In the increasingly competitive world of social media, learning and executing the formula for a video ad that works is more powerful than ever before. In 2017, the US had $156 billion in mobile commerce sales. By 2021, experts estimate that US mobile commerce sales will eclipse $420 billion.
My job is to help clients achieve a best case scenario by recommending the right types of video ads for their eCommerce brand. With well over 1 million dollars in ad spend on creative testing alone, I’ve chosen the top 7 lessons I’ve learned.
1. Get Their Attention
Do: Be Bold
Don’t: Take your time
The #1 mistake we see with video ads is a lack of attention to GETTING attention and doing it quickly - and well. The world of high-profile, heavily produced commercials doesn’t always translate into the social media ads of today. We don’t need the shiny close up’s or long beautiful intro’s — intrigue is over — we want to be excited, and we want it ASAP.
Smaller attention spans = Increasing need for instant gratification.
It’s all about the first 3 seconds. This is your hook to bargain for just a few more seconds to then show your product. When both of these are done well, that’s when the magic (aka money) happens.
In the first three seconds: show them something cool, and then show them who you are.
What’s something exciting about your product? What value does it bring to your customer’s life? Can you state it in a sentence?
According to Facebook, when seeing on a video on a mobile phone, the average user is spending as little as 1.5 seconds to make up their minds as to if they’ll keep watching. FB states that “65% of people that watch the first three seconds of your video will watch it for at least 10 more seconds.”
2. Show It Off
Do: Show It “In The Wild”
Don’t: Keep It A Mystery
One big mistake I see often is a lack of “real life” showcasing when it comes to e-commerce ads.
Yes, branding and product packaging are great (who doesn’t love a sleek design), but audiences want to see products in action. They want to see it in the “wild”, not just the faux well-lit worlds we mostly witness on our screens.
Think about when you’ve admired someone else’s shoes, purse, cookware, etc. — were they using it when you noticed it’s value? When we see a product “in the wild”, actively demonstrating it’s real-life benefits, we’re much more likely to want it for ourselves.
Easy hack — get raw footage of your product in action; being eaten, worn, used…. you name it. Include that footage as early, as much, as possible.
Avoid being mysterious. Provide a real picture of how your brand will fit right into their everyday life.
3. Show Some Skin
Do: Include humans!
Don’t: Lose an opportunity to incorporate a face/real use
Faces > Facts.
Use as much “skin” as you can — faces, smiles, hands, people — the more you can express your product has real “life” value (literally), the more likely you are to gain a customer. Too many video ads these days forget to show off with actual humans. They often rely too heavily on just highlighting facts about the product or modeling in a lifeless environment.
Psychologically, we respond to faces. We want to see other humans (especially now!) Include real people (actors count, of course) and watch your customers grow.
4. Focus On What’s Gained
Do: Explain what the consumer will benefit from purchasing the product
Don’t: Simply describe aspects of the product, merely focusing on the facts
At Ascenial, we create a Value Prop matrix for each client at the beginning of the engagement. The purpose is to analyze all the features of a brand or product, and then dive deep into understanding how this feature benefits the customer.
A value prop is what the consumer is gaining from purchasing or using the product. Oftentimes, I find client’s less successful pre-existing ads were focused too heavily on emphasizing brand facts — where it’s from, what it looks like, how much it costs… rather than what it could provide.
Here’s how you understand the difference between a feature and a benefit:
Feature = Low price point
Benefit = You can now afford to have a family vacation this year.
For example, in the video ad below for With Clarity, we capture viewers attention by recognizing that the brand offers a huge benefit — a price point 70% cheaper than the industry standard. Of all our creative iterations on video ads, this one performed the best:
5. Use What You Have
Do: Find fun ways to use assets you already have:
Don’t: Overspend or overwork on your asset creation (like the previously mentioned high-end extensive expensive commercial shoot)
Don’t underestimate what you already have! If you have raw product photos, raw footage, real (good) reviews — even just a video of a customer raving about your product — you have more than enough to make an effective video ad.
There are endless libraries of video ad templates, photo “slideshow” videos, easy-to-incorporate motion graphics that can spice up your pre-existing assets. Take advantage of the designs and formatting that have already been created by professionals and widely available.
Some video ad options to explore:
- downloadable video templates
- fun font animations
- easy motion graphics
- testimonials/real reviews
- stop motion
- carousel video ads
All you have is a solid testimonial or written review about your product? You can make a video ad that converts simply by creating a fun, captivating animated text motion graphic ad (like ours below) that gets attention and displays the real-life value for one customer.
6. Know Your Platform!
Do: Your research.
Don’t: Assume your specs.
All platforms are always changing and updating — MAKE SURE you know what you need and where you want your ads to be shown. There are probably more specs than you realize, and you don’t want to waste your own time or resources crafting or creating an ad that won’t even be able to be published.
Specs are changing constantly. File type, size, dimensions, length, you name it. Decide where you want your ad to be seen before you produce it.
This also helps provide clear guidelines for your editors and creative team which saves everyone time, money, and resources!
Don’t assume all creative assets/video ad types will be able to be published static across platforms easily.
One great example of the importance of specs? Text placement. Every social media platform has its own “posting template” — where the icon, name of “promoter” (person or brand posting), and any standard ad text falls differs across each platform. Depending on where your ad will be displayed, it’s very likely not only will your video need to be formatted correctly, but where the creative copy (text on the visual) appears. Being aware of these specifications during editing saves you the disappointment of exporting a “final version” only to discover your work is not done.
Check out this great visual for remembering to leave space for the “Safe Zone”:
7. Be Playful
Do: Make it fun and make it count!
Don’t: Waste yours, or their, feed time.
Always do something memorable OR eye-pleasing visually or thematically.
Make sure your video is captivating, eye-grabbing, and easy to digest! Find fun ways to incorporate your branding, such as using colored subtitles and gifs that match your product or target audience.
Some relevant things to keep in mind:
- Audience age
- Viral trends
A good example of a viral trend is the use of ASMR-style audio within the soundscape of ads, which has proven to work with audiences.
Again, remind yourself your audience is scrolling faster, and more, than ever. Your #1 priority is getting your product in front of their eyes — use your time wisely! If it’s fun, it provides the stimulation and gratification for audiences to stop and learn just a little bit more.
Our ad below, featuring ASMR elements, is one of Leon & George’s best performing video ads. Why? Because it includes a trendy, relaxing, and visually stimulating element that makes this ad stand out against the many competitors.