Best Practice Guide to Optimising Creative Performance in Digital Video Ads
It’s little wonder that marketers are under pressure to create more video content than ever. Consumers are watching an increasing amount of digital video – nearly three-quarters of the population are now viewing the format – and UK marketing professionals are looking to capitalise on this, with video ad budgets increasing in Q4 2022 by 13.7% and ad spend projected to reach £10.52bn by 2027.
The days when brands could get away with running the exact same campaign for months at a time are long gone. Now, in the digital age, they need to develop much more content to keep up with consumers' voracious appetites.
However, the continual emergence of new digital platforms, formats and trends means that keeping the creative pipeline flowing is a massive challenge for marketers.
In order to meet demand, marketers could be tempted to cut corners and take a one-size-fits-all approach to creative, pushing out the same videos on a number of different platforms.
But this would be a mistake; to achieve Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS) and maximize efficiency, native content is essential. This requires agile content production processes to be in place, as well as data-driven tools for measuring creative performance, and allowing in flight optimisation.
Only then can marketers fully understand the creative best practices for each platform, allowing them to build campaigns that maximize awareness, consideration, and conversions.
The quality of creative is where 70% of campaign performance is rooted, according to Google, and ensuring video ads meet all platform-specific requirements is vital to improving efficiency.
While there is no one plan that will work for every brand, the following strategies per platform will help marketers begin to develop and implement social media best practices for creative tailored to each platform to optimize campaign performance.
Facebook & Instagram
Although these platforms can operate in different ways, there are similarities in how video ads can work across both.
Based on an analysis of more than 10,000 Facebook and Instagram video ads with 40.5 billion impressions spanning 30 brands in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry by VidMob, these insights will help marketers develop their own hypotheses for finding out which creative approach works best for them.
Clear, concise text will increase consideration
Introducing the brand at the very beginning of the video increased Click-Through Rates (CTRs) by 27%. There was a 39% greater CTR when messaging took up 40% to 60% of the frame, compared to less than 20%; people scan messages quicker on mobile than on desktop, so text needs to be clear and concise — key messaging should be the star of the show.
An early CTA will lift conversion rates
When the call-to-action (CTA) was introduced at the very beginning of the ad, purchase rate was lifted two times more than when the CTA came two seconds in or later. Positive sentiment such as actors with happy expressions boosted Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) by 7% compared to when actors showed neutral or negative emotions.
Staying indoors can boost awareness
Producing videos in a home or indoor setting boosted three-second View Through Rates (3s VTRs) by 28% compared to videos shot in outdoor locations.
Videos that showcased personal moments such as a hug had a 33% higher 3s VTR than those that didn’t; while a 39% greater 3s VTR was achieved when using faster pacing, with three or more scene changes in the first three seconds compared to no scene changes at all.
Specifically focused on the FinServ industry, this study of video ads on LinkedIn examined more than 26,000 ads generating a combined 51 million impressions. Some of the top takeaways uncovered were:
Using emotion boosts awareness and conversions
When models convey happy or neutral emotions, the conversion rate is 76% higher compared to negative emotions. The view rate was 2.5 times higher for ads in which the talent had particularly animated, emotive facial expressions compared to models who had muted, neutral expressions.
Get your colour palette right
Colour is a significant factor in campaign performance and ads with warmer colours — such as red, orange, and yellow — saw a 15% increase in view rate. High colour contrast against background visuals had a 69% percent higher view rate and a 31% higher conversion rate than ads with low contrast.
Talk directly to the camera
LinkedIn users prefer ads that address them directly. When the talent pointed their gaze squarely at the camera, view rates were 6% higher than average and conversion rates were 11.5% higher.
Logos and text are all-important
Videos that had text in the first 2 seconds had a conversion rate 27% higher than the FinServ industry average, while those that led with the brand’s logo had a 69% higher view rate than videos that featured an actor at the beginning.
This analysis of TikTok was carried out using more than 6,000 videos with 5.2 billion impressions that ran between January and June of 2022. Here are some of the key learnings:
User Generated Content holds the key
There was a significant uplift of 208% in 6s VTRs for videos that featured user-generated content (UGC) compared to those that didn't. Including music in the videos increased 6s VTRs by 20% – TikTok is a musical platform after all – while videos, where the actor spoke directly to the camera, got a 246% boost in 6s VTRs compared to those with a voiceover.
Don't wait until the final frame to introduce the CTA
Click-Through Rates were lifted 14% for videos where the product was included in the first frame, compared to those where the product was shown later. Introducing the CTA between the 3 and 5 second mark increased CTRs by 29% over videos that featured the CTA earlier or later.
Connections drive conversions
Again, UGC proved a massive driver for conversion, with a 297% uplift in conversion rate compared to non-UGC videos. Building a connection with the audience is also key to boosting conversions, with a 47% lift seen in videos where the talent talks directly to the camera.
The analysis of Snap looked at three different industries – Entertainment, FinServ and CPG – between January 2019 and June 2021, covering more than 8,500 campaigns with nearly 50 billion impressions. It uncovered several important insights:
Entertainment brands should keep it short
Snap Ads that were less than 10 seconds long had a 40% boost in swipe rates. And by placing the CTA in the first two seconds, entertainment brands increased their swipe rates by 71%.
Celebrity endorsement rings true for FinServ brands
Star power for financial brands is massive on Snap; ads opening with a celebrity spokesperson saw a 39% boost in view rates. But they need to be careful with the text they use – view rates are 175% higher when the text takes up 5% of the screen or less.
CPG brands should turn the volume up
Video ads from CPG brands on Snap had 3.5 times longer view time when they had the sound on compared to no sound, while ads with outdoor settings saw a 25% boost in view time and a 12% lift in swipe rate.
These platform nuances illustrate just how important it is to have different approaches for each social site.
If though, there is one universal truth that applies, it is this: creativity is the backbone of digital advertising, no matter what platform.
Understanding the unique qualities of each platform and its audience is fundamental to success. Although there is no single strategy that will work for every company, it is essential for marketers to gain a deep understanding of what is working for their brand and develop their own best practices for each platform.
While platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn have conducted their own analyses and offer guidelines, creative intelligence tools – that are capable of assessing creative performance in real time – can give marketers an advantage by allowing them to optimize campaigns in flight.
There's no excuse for marketers to continue pushing out the same content regardless of platform. To increase their chance of reaching maximum ROAS and gaining a competitive edge over their rivals, brands must create bespoke content for the environment in which the consumer is watching.