Without a doubt, the single most important innovation in advertising over the past 10 years has been the rise of social media. Social media companies have accumulated a vast amount of demographic information about their users and can tell advertisers precisely where to target their ads to reach the ideal audience. Facebook, the still-reigning champion of social media advertising, is where many advertisers both large and small go to reach their would-be consumers. Anyone who uses Facebook regularly is familiar with its sponsored content. The most recent innovation in sponsored content on Facebook is video advertising.
Over one year ago, Facebook introduced autoplay video ads, which, as the name suggests, begin playing in the newsfeed as the user scrolls past them. The autoplay feature is a huge advantage, as it immediately engages the user. There’s no need to click on a link in the margins—the video is front and center with movement and sound. In its 2014 Q4 report, Facebook revealed that 3 billion videos are viewed on its site each day. The vast majority of these are user-submitted and shared videos, but the evidence is clear that Facebook is a platform on which users will happily watch videos. So what does it take to get your video ad viewed on Facebook? Follow these guidelines to create an effective video ad for Facebook and get return on your investment.
Get to the Point – Quickly
When thinking about content for your video, always start with the three-second rule. That is, make sure you capture the viewer’s attention within the first three seconds of the video. The video will begin to play when people scroll down to it, but will stop playing once they scroll past it. If you don’t get your message across in the first few seconds of the video, potential customers will keep scrolling past it and never look back.
Three seconds is also what Facebook considers to be the threshold for a “video view.” So if your monthly metrics report from Facebook says that your video ads had 200 views that month, what did those customers actually see? If the first few seconds of your video is nothing but introductory fluff, what did those viewers learn about your brand? Make sure the most important part of your message is somehow communicated in those first three seconds so you know each view really counted.
Lead with a Powerful Image
Even more important than the first three seconds is the first frame of your video. If the first three seconds is crucial to getting your message across, the first frame is crucial to getting viewers to stick around for a moment. Use a striking image for the first shot that entices the viewer to watch just a little more. The thumbnail image should get the viewer’s attention but it should also tell the viewer why they should watch the video.
Don’t use a logo or title card for your first image. A logo or title card just screams advertising and can be distracting to viewers, causing them to scroll past your video. Besides, if you’re going to lead with a logo or a title card, you’d be better off just using standard static Facebook advertising. Take advantage of the video medium and do something more exciting with it.
Don’t Rely on Sound
Not everyone has the sound turned on when browsing Facebook and many others take a headphones-only approach when it comes to browsing the internet. And those using Facebook on a mobile device won’t likely have the sound turned up. For all of these reasons, and probably to avoid suddenly blasting users with loud ads, Facebook turns off the sound as a video begins autoplaying in the news feed.
Because the video ad is essentially silent, you won’t be engaging with the majority of your viewers if your video ad leans too much on the voiceover to make it work. Therefore, create a video that works just as well without sound as is does with it. Use a text overlay that doesn’t rely on a voiceover to drive the message home. If you have a spectacular idea for an ad that is only made better with a voiceover, by all means include the VO, too. But know that most of your viewers will only see the video and not hear it.
Try More than One Approach
Facebook video ads are relatively inexpensive, and with today’s technology a quality video doesn’t need to cost a fortune. So try a few variations on a theme and see what works best. Use Facebook’s vast amount of demographic data to try target different segments of your audience with different videos. If you see that one kind of advertising is working better than another across multiple segments of your audience, you’ll feel confident about doubling down on that type of video ad next month and targeting a larger population.
Remember that in the news feed, your video ad will be juxtaposed with photos and videos of dogs, babies, vacation pictures and many other examples of people living real lives. If your video has too much of a commercial vibe, it will likely be ignored. Facebook users aren’t captive audiences like TV viewers are. Your video needs to stand out and get people’s attention in the newsfeed without coming across as obnoxious. Think about your own Facebook browsing habits and what makes you stop scrolling to like or comment on a post. Your video ad should have the same qualities. It should feel human but engaging at the same time.
Tell People Where to Find You
Add a call to action at the end of your video ad. If a viewer has stuck it out until the end of your video, they obviously want to know more about you! So use those last few frames to invite people to like your Facebook page, follow you on another social channel, or visit your website to learn more about you and what you have to offer.
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