Feb 15 2019
Basis Technologies

9 Simple Video Ad Hacks to Build Customer Engagement


In light of the proliferation of ads on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media, digital practitioners are pretty much required to have a video ad strategy in place -- and one that makes them stand out from competitors.

That said, a good video ad strategy is far more than just another addition to your overarching advertising strategy. Scroll through any social media site, and you’ve likely noticed that video ads these days look a lot less like ads and a lot more like, well, creative posts. And even short movies. After all, social networking platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and even LinkedIn are designed with the user experience in mind -- and the ads shouldn’t be any different. Thus, it stands to reason that you need to tailor your approach to reach new audiences that are looking first to be entertained.

Below are nine video ad hacks to keep in mind to generate user engagement and keep potential customers coming back.

1. Know Your Audience

As you do with regular digital ads, Know Thy Audience. While it might seem like Marketing 101, it’s often surprising how many digital advertisers fail to do this. You might have toiled for hours to optimize your video ads. But it might all be for naught if you’re not reaching the right audiences. Your video ad strategy needs to include a deep and comprehensive understanding of your audience and target customers -- and this includes demographics, what they like, and how they’re entertained (after all, video ads do provide an entertainment factor). There’s no guarantee that Facebook or other social networks will direct you to the right audiences -- that’s on you to ensure that your ad targeting is effective.

Helpful tip: That’s where ad performance reports come in. Among other things, they enable you to review performance based on age, gender, or conversion device. They also enable you to see if your ads are reaching the right target demographic or if they are received by the audience you’re trying to reach, or if they’re converting via mobile, desktop, or another device.

2. Tailor Different Videos to Different Audiences

Which comes to the next point -- not every consumer will react to a video ad in the same way. Every nuance in your video serves a different function and resonates with a different set of targets. So feel free to adjust the tone and style to cater to the needs and expectations of your audience.

Of course you’ll want to match the tone of your video ad to the message you’re trying to convey. But also get a sense for audience preference -- whether it’s ads that are humorous, dramatic, or more informational -- and distinguish which ones are more effective for simple brand recognition vs. assessing purchase intent vs. generating actual conversions.

And given that distinct styles and tones of video ads elicit different responses when it comes to conversions, don’t be afraid to experiment to get the right message for the right audience.

3. Use Large, Clear, and Colorful Logos

It usually can’t hurt to reinforce who you are and what your message is to your audience -- and that even applies to video ads. To that end, larger logos help significantly reinforce brand familiarity -- which in turn can serve to boost customer loyalty and conversions. Large logos are particularly helpful for busy video ads, providing a metaphoric anchor against the backdrop of moving parts. And using large and memorable logos especially applies to video ads shown on mobile devices, which need to stand out on the device’s small screen.

To that end, avoid using blue, gray, or other neutral colors in your copy that might blend it with the video screen or Facebook’s News Feed. Instead don’t be afraid to use bright and bold colors like reds, sharp greens, and oranges, or other colors that make a lasting impression on your targets.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Use Stock Videos

If you are eager to embark on your video ad strategy but have no idea where to begin, stock videos could be one viable place to start.

Let’s face it -- you might not have the time, resources, or expertise to make your own in-house video ads -- and that’s okay. You’re in good company. Yet at the same time, it’s no secret that video ads are becoming a bigger part of a digital ad strategy, simply because they experience a significantly higher organic reach than photos. And as such, yours should too.

While the thought of stock anything might elicit an inward groan, it’s an option for resource and time-strapped organizations. Facebook has continually shown that it’s more willing to show video ads over image ads because people are in general more responsive to videos.   

Plus, with such a wide array of different stock websites available, it’s likely you’ll find a type of style that fits well with your brand and messaging. No one needs to know that you didn’t spend a small fortune on your own in-house video production.

5. Mention Brand Throughout the Video Ad

A lot of thought has gone into examining the best time to mention brand in the video ad -- but studies have shown that when it comes right down to it, it doesn’t matter.  

That’s especially liberating for the digital advertiser, who can freely mention the brand throughout the entirety of the ad without fear of any kind of backlash or negative consequences. What’s more, purchase intent remains the same regardless of where the brand is mentioned. So go ahead, beginning, middle, end, or (tactfully) all three -- feel free to be as creative as you want. Consumers care about relevance, not brand placement. So there’s no wrong answer.

6. Keep Ads Short and Sweet

Traditionally, video ads typically run between 15 and 30 seconds. And for a good reason -- they work! In short, they effectively provide necessary information and capture the audience’s attention without losing them. And it’s a length that historically has been successful across multiple goals from brand elevation and awareness to actual conversions, and particularly generating purchase intent.

However, there is such a thing as too short -- five seconds, while perhaps enough to spark interest in consumers, isn’t enough to assess purchase intent or many other business goals.

In general, a good rule is to err on the side of 15 seconds, as that generally seems to be the sweet spot that ignites consumer interest and curiosity without putting them to sleep.

7. Focus on Storytelling

When seeing a video ad on Facebook or other social networks, most people are intent on updating their status or checking in on friends -- that is, they aren’t exactly in a buying frame of mind. Instead, their primary focus is to be entertained -- and your video ads should reflect that.

If your ads are overly promotional, chances are you'll be unintentionally repelling potential customers who might otherwise be interested in your product or service. What you want to do is make it seem less like an ad, and more like a fun or creative video post (think along the lines of guerilla advertising).

So tell a story. Introduce humor. Take them by surprise. Or make them feel something. Don’t make them feel like they’re being bombarded or pitched. They’ll be reeled into your ad before they even know it’s one, and if it’s compelling, chances are they stick around until the end.

8. Add Music

In the spirit of entertainment, there will be a lot of viewers who will engage with music -- after all, they watch videos of their friends with the sound on. And music can be just the right tool to help set the tone and feel of your ad -- if anything, well-placed, well-timed music can trigger emotions that can put just about any user in a buying mood.

That said, the type of music you choose will depend upon the message and tone of your ad. In general, avoid music that has the potential to drown out your message, distract your viewers or churn up emotions that steer them away from your product. During your testing process, you can experiment with a few types of music, to determine which would be the best fit for your audience while also matching your content.

9. Test, Test, Test

A/B testing might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be incredibly surprised at how often it’s neglected or overlooked as overzealous marketers race to get their video content online before their competitors. Of course, as the old adage goes, “haste makes waste,” and in rushing to get content out the door, they often pay a price in the long run when they later find out it’s not reaching the right audiences or is otherwise ineffective.

So a little investment up front to determine what resonates best with your audiences is often well worth it. Create a few variations on a video and conduct some simple A/B testing to see which ones get the best response, measuring for length of viewing, engagement levels, number of leads and conversions each generated. Then place them on the platforms that make sense.

A little testing can go a long way, saving you significantly when it comes to both ROI and your bottom line.

In Summary

When used effectively, video ads can provide a relatively cost-effective way to elevate your brand and provide a big boost to engagement. But like any other campaign, it has to be executed strategically. Video ads provide almost boundless opportunities for creativity, capturing the imagination of potential customers, creating connections, and lifting engagement. To do it right -- and to achieve a solid ROI --  you have to strike the right balance between emotion, entertainment, and information. And the competition is becoming increasingly fierce. Knowing what works -- and what doesn’t -- will put you a few steps ahead of the game.


To learn more about how Centro's technology can help elevate your video strategy, get in touch with our digital media experts.