How to Create Video Ads that Get Watched

Video is one of the most effective ways of advertising today. Period.

Video ads offer a more immersive experience for the viewer and allow potential customers to understand better your brand messaging. As marketers, we are always trying to elicit emotions from our messages. Videos allow you to elicit emotions and share them, along with the personality of your brand. They allow you to connect with your audience on a deeper level than any other type of advertisement. Most importantly, when done correctly, video ads can drive incredible amounts of engagement and leads. In today’s post, we will break down how to create video ads that get watched.

Video is not a magic bullet.

Not all videos are created equally. We have all scrolled by tons of video ads, or we have started watching a video only to walk away 5 seconds in because it doesn’t catch our attention. If you’re going to go down the video advertising road, there are a few things you can do to make your video stand out and get noticed.

Below, we have cataloged a collection of some of our proven tricks and techniques that will help your videos stand out and get noticed.

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Make the Intro Instantly Engaging

In most cases, you have only a few seconds to hook a potential viewer. They’re often scrolling their timeline, and the video starts silently in the background, so the first scene needs to be dynamic and eye-catching. You must make the first few seconds count. This short window will determine whether a viewer will continue watching the ad, hit the ‘Skip Ad’ button, or continue scrolling. 

We absolutely love what Poo-Pourri did in their original “Girls Don’t Poop” ad back in 2013. They grabbed your attention quickly with a well-dressed, classy lady flinging open a bathroom door stall to reveal her sitting on a toilet. Within two seconds of the video, you want to see what she’s about to tell you. By second five, she’s already telling you about her latest bowel movement. It’s hard to stop watching at that point.

Girls Don’t Poop –

Dollar Shave Club also did a great job with their original promotional campaign. They used a close-up of their founder going directly into a spiel about precisely what Dollar Shave Club is how “f***ing great” their blades are within the first 15 seconds of their 1:33 second commercial. – Our Blades Are F***ing Great

Make sure you have an excellent hook in these few seconds. Keep it fun, action-packed, enticing, titillating, fascinating, and surprising. Also, make sure that the first few seconds have significant movement so that the viewer knows it’s a video.


Keep Them Interesting

As soon as someone believes they have your video figured out, they will move on to the next shiny object – or worse, skip your ad altogether when given a chance. If you want people to engage with your video and message, design your video in a way that keeps them intrigued and interested until the very end. If you do, they will be willing to watch all the through to see the closing pitch. A video that captures the viewer’s attention but then quickly goes into a boring rehearsed sales pitch won’t keep the viewer tuned in for more than a couple of seconds (unless you take a note from Geico – see below). Your video should be so compelling that someone can’t help but continue watching it.  

Speaking of Geico, take a look at what they did in this ad.


Geico Ad With A Hungry Dog

Going back to our first tip of making the introduction instantly engaging, their scripted line from the beginning doesn’t necessarily make much sense. However, because of the vagueness, you want to see what’s going to happen. They follow the first line of the video with their standard Geico voice-over about saving 15% or more on car insurance. Ahhh…now that first line makes more sense. We’ve all heard this line a thousand times and have seen it in Geico commercials for years and years. We know they sell insurance. We know they make intriguing commercials. In this one, after only a 15-second plug, the video continues to play. Initially, you feel like the commercial should be over. But then, a giant dog comes into the frame, and the commercial continues with the dog jumping on the table and destroying their family dinner. That’s it. The commercial plays until the minute mark while the family is “frozen in time.” There isn’t even a closing pitch – just their logo. But they’ve made the “meat” of the video interesting enough that you want to continue watching to see what the naughty dog is about to do next. All while watching the faces of the actors to see how they will react. 

Does a dog eating spaghetti off of a dinner table relate to car insurance? Nope. But it’s memorable, and it builds brand loyalty by making customers laugh. You get a sense that Geico takes the boring insurance crap out of insurance and maybe, just maybe, makes insurance a little bit more fun.


Solve Your Customer’s Problem

Your video ads must solve a problem for the target viewer. When you are designing the ad, make sure you identify your potential customers’ actual pain points. What are the things that they struggle with? How could you make their lives easier? Your video needs to let them know that you know them. Then, uncover the solution you are offering in a creative and engaging way.

Each year, Google puts together a #YearinSearch video. Everyone knows what Google is, but sometimes we forget that they provide us the service of information. To humanize the brand and speak to their customers, this campaign highlights the past year of search queries typed into Google. With it, stories are shared, movements are watched, and the viewer realizes that Google literally is solving their problem by answering their questions. There’s a high likelihood that these videos will make you laugh and cry at the same time. Google doesn’t have to tell you how they do what they do; they show it and how their service impacts the world.

Google — Year in Search 2020

Instead of merely stating that you have a solution, show them in the video how the particular solution you offer can solve the problem. Get creative and keep the demographics of your target audience in mind.


Make Your Videos On Brand

If you already have a brand image, your video ad must be in sync with that image. For instance, a brand with a sober brand image can’t just go all funky in a video ad. However, an increasingly popular trend is to take a casual approach to video ads with less produced, more “real” videos.

Typically, if you’re going to go through creating a campaign and incorporating video into it, you have a few things already decided. You know your goal, and you know your target audience. Now, you have to create content that will be appealing to that audience and satisfy your goal while keeping the core values of your company in mind. Customers become brand loyalists because of the kind of company you are and the values you represent. You don’t want to create an ad that will go against why they fell in love with you in the first place.

Many companies do this by creating their ad so it looks less like an ad and more like a very interesting video that the viewer would want to see. Nike is notorious for creating ads that speak to their target demographic while pushing their brand through storytelling. Their ads are often captivating, inspirational, and high-end. More and more brands are taking similar approaches by using stories as the foundation of their ads while tying the main concepts back to who they are as a company.  

Nike: What will they say about you?

You can use different approaches to achieving videos that capture your brand. Sometimes, a viewer may be more piqued with a video made on a smartphone than one shot with a professional camera, only because it looks more authentic. Neither of these approaches is right or wrong; they just have to stay in line with the original goal, audience, and brand.


Use Text Strategically

Most platforms, such as Instagram, mute videos by default. Many viewers tend to view the muted video for a second or so before determining whether it would interest them. To make the most of this tiny timeframe, you can use in-ad text.

Colgate did this with a super short 7-second Facebook ad. It gets the point across with no audio needed.


In 2018, remember to turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth. You waste up to 4 gallons of water each time you brush with the faucet running. #EveryDropCounts

Posted by Colgate on Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Dynamic text within the video can effectively put across your message, especially while the video is muted. However, make sure that the text is not overdone. If you are having trouble determining what text to include, simply focus on the details you wouldn’t want your audience to miss out on. Then, shortlist the most essential of these and turn them into text for use within the video. This text may also help connect with the first few seconds as a hook to get people to engage. 

Speaking of a different type of text, be sure that your videos also have optional closed captions enabled and are captioned correctly. You don’t want to leave out any audience that may want to watch your video, including the hard-of-hearing and deaf communities. Plus, closed captioning can also be useful for anyone who doesn’t want audio playing on their video but prefer to watch with subtitles.


End With a Call to Action

The ending of your video is as important as the beginning. A viewer will typically decide whether or not to take the desired action at the end of watching a video. For many videos, this is done in the form of a call-to-action. On some videos, it is as simple as a logo. For others, the video tells you what to do next – possibly to buy a product, visit a website, or some other hook to keep you engaged.

In another creative ad from Google, they insert a clear CTA at the end of the video by directing you to a specific URL to try out Google Chrome.

Google Chrome Speed Tests

If nothing else, you can simply display a hashtag for your ad. Any call-to-action is better than none – and the clearer and enticing your CTA is, the more it is likely to get you the desired results.


Choose Attention-Grabbing Thumbnails

While this isn’t a specific video production technique, this is a useful tip for getting video views once you launch it online. For any video you upload, you want to choose the right thumbnail. 

Thumbnails are the tiny images that show on your video before it starts and once it finishes. Facebook and YouTube let you customize the thumbnails. Instagram, however, lets you use only an image from the actual video.

GoPro does a great job of this, and where you can quickly see an example of their thumbnails is on their YouTube channel. Right from the get-go, you realize that they will be showcasing content of people being active and doing cool things in cool places.

Thumbnails are important because they are the first glimpse of your video. This first impression often determines whether or not a viewer will unmute the video and watch it. Make sure you use the best thumbnails that are sure to interest potential viewers and draw them in.

Bonus Tips:

Use the Correct Video Dimensions

Different platforms use different dimensions for videos. A video ad optimized for Facebook, for instance, may not look as great on Instagram. It’s essential to choose the right dimensions because it dramatically affects the viewing experience. An ad with awkward dimensions may put off the viewers, causing them to click away within seconds. The key is to make sure that your video advertising looks 100% native to the platform where it displays. Making your videos the correct dimensions will often mean editing multiple versions in different sizes, so each platform you’re posting them to will look great. You may end up with a vertical version, a square version, a horizontal version, and resized versions of these versions by the time you are done. Keep this in mind when coming up with your video concepts, as well. Since you’ll likely need to edit the video for multiple purposes, make sure your footage and overall theme will allow you to do that. If you are not sure what dimensions to use, take a look at this comprehensive guide to social media video specs.

Use A/B Testing

Create multiple versions of your video ads and then test them. See which versions and which headlines work best with your target audience. You can use video analytics to check which video advertisement proves more popular and converts viewers into website visitors or customers.

Making A/B video versions might mean that you have a longer format video to post to your YouTube channel, but multiple smaller versions you post to other social media networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. Perhaps the video, in its entirety, is 3:00, but you have multiple :30-second and : 15-second mini-videos that you run on various social networks.

In conclusion, video ads are one of the most powerful advertising mediums available to businesses today. That being said, you have to put in a significant effort to make video ads work. In most cases, you will have to test and tinker with various ads and strategies before you finally learn what works well for your target audience. That is when you start getting real results from your video ad campaigns.

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