Advertising is a creative industry and according to a popular belief, creativity doesn’t tolerate rules. But it doesn’t mean you should flush planning down the drain and rely solely on the Muse to descend and get the work done. On the contrary, in order to be successful in the creative industry, staying patient, diligent and having a clear plan are a safer bet to find and retain customers, stand out from the competition, and optimize budgets.
If the creation of advertising strategies was an uncomplicated process, there wouldn’t be so many brands and marketers reluctant to plan. Ad professionals may find the diversity of digital ad placements incomprehensible and enormous reports intimidating. Nonetheless, these concerns and the lack of advertising strategy examples shouldn’t deter you from creating and executing your video advertising strategy.
Firstly, don’t overdo making your plan exhaustive: a one-page roadmap will work just fine. Secondly, it doesn’t have to involve all aspects of digital marketing. What’s really important is the structure. And to provide you with one, we are going to cover the five steps of building a successful video strategy.
1. Choose the right audience
This is a foundation stone in building any ad campaign, and it’s disappointing how many marketers tend to underestimate the importance of this step. Far too many times we have heard from brands that their “ad is for the general public.” We get it, the temptation to kill numerous birds with one stone is too big to resist, but the hard truth is that it’s not how it works. While several audiences may be potential prospects for your product, their interest is different. And your first task in building a strategy is to identify relevant audiences with their pain points, how your product or service addresses them and chooses the message that your customers will listen to.
As for targeting, in order to engage with the best performing audiences, you’ll have to look into 3 major criteria: demographics, interests, and intents.
Demographics help you reach out to your prospects that have common sociobiological factors. They may include but are not limited to age, gender, location, education, the size of the household, income level, etc.
Interests imply delivering your ads to users who already have some relation to your industry, for instance, active moviegoers, music fans, car collectors, and cat lovers. When targeting interests, you can also choose the lifestyle of your prospects: foodies or gym rats, hipsters or white-collar workaholics, fashion industry followers or activists committed to the planet.
Intent is about gathering people that are currently on their customer journey. This means that they are already looking for a product or service similar to yours. All you have to do is to step in and let them know about your business and its advantages. For example, intents get your ads in front of customers that are actively checking car prices, searching for new furniture, or comparing in detail the capabilities of iPhones and Android devices. Pay attention that for intent-based marketing, your data has to be recently updated.
2. Tell a story
The best way to do this is to focus on people rather than products or services. You can waste your breath describing for hours the value that lies in your business, but if there’s no hero in your story, don’t expect people to listen. Make your protagonists relatable to your audiences that deal with similar challenges and look for the same answers. In the end, successful selling comes down to an emotional impact.
Sounds too abstract? No sweat, all you need to do when coming up with the story is to answer the three WH questions: Who? What? Why? In other words, stay away from hitting your prospects with hard facts and rather proceed with explaining life situations of people (real or fictional), their desires, and motivation. And as a cherry on top, present your business as a tool for helping a protagonist receive what they want or need.
It would be naive to hope that a compelling story will skyrocket the conversions immediately, but if done right, it surely will impact values.
As you work on this step, don’t neglect the lesson learned in the first step: thou shalt not generalize! Just like other devils, the devil of a successful story lies in the details. For instance, you can say that your protagonist “ had a bad day.” Easy to comprehend, but doesn’t make us sympathize. How about instead we explain more to our prospects:
“The morning was a nightmare: Jessie spilled coffee on her favorite shirt and the key got stuck in the door. As a result, she was late for work and had a fight with her boss. On top of everything, she received a Facebook notification from her ex who got engaged recently. And all she’s got is a sad plant.”
Now we see a real person with real problems, somebody we empathize with and rooting for. Simply by adding details to your story, you make it more alive and therefore relatable.
3. Capture eyes
Now that we’ve got the story, let’s take a look at the technicalities of creating a great video ad.
First impressions matter. That’s why it’s imperative you don’t waste your golden opportunity to engage the viewers during the first few seconds. It is the very time when users decide whether they should continue watching or switch their attention to something else. Remember how your English teachers said, “Open with the attention grabber”? This trick works not only for essays, but also for your videos. Don’t bother to start with a long lead-in or setting the scene. Just right at the beginning, put your protagonist (see step 2) into the situation that puts a viewer on the edge of their seat. Or if you want to go even a bit further with your creativity, start with a completely unique and maybe senseless situation: advertisers call it a pie-in-the-face approach to attract attention. Once you have it, keep telling your story.
Promote your brand. Duh! It may seem obvious since we are talking about successful video advertisement strategies, but there’s a risk to get carried away from the brand by focusing too much on the story. It’s important to have a story as a context in which your video ad highlights the unique selling points of your company. In other words, you need to show viewers with how much value your brand will provide users that have the challenges just like your protagonist.
Keep it short and neat. Even if your targeted prospects do enjoy lengthy monotonous biopics (which most of them don’t), in no way does it mean that you should film a full documentary that tells a success story of your brand. Generally, the video duration to strive for is up to 30 seconds. This is really important to keep in mind as you write your script. Don’t get us wrong, we are not trying to convince you to focus only on short video clips and throw the idea of longer videos into the trash bin. On the contrary, longer, more informative videos are highly effective when the main hero of the story is your brand. This type of video works best on your corporate website when prospects already have a positive first impression and want to learn more.
Bring down the curtain right. Not only is it important to start the video by catching attention, but also you must know how to end it correctly. This is where our well-beloved call to action (CTA) comes in. There’s no one universal action your video should feature. You choose a CTA for each particular video depending on many factors: audience, objectives, a stage of the funnel, a type of business, etc. Keep in mind is that your CTA should be:
- Brief and concise
- Easy to follow
Traditionally, CTA can be found somewhere near the end of the video after the story is completed. It may be presented as a text with a visual effect that explains what to do, a QR code or a button that takes a user to a landing page, registration form, app store or marketplace. Which one to use depends on the platform. If there’s an option to choose a clickable one, go with it for it’s more interactive.
4. Select placements
At this step of your strategy creation, you need to decide on two important issues: the platform and the position of your video.
There’s a large number of media platforms available in the second decade of the third millennium, and this number keeps growing. Here are some of the most popular placements for your ad:
Social networks. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok are the largest, but they are definitely not the only ones. When selecting which social network to promote your video, take into account target audiences. For instance, LinkedIn is arguably the best platform to reach out to business decision makers whilst Instagram is better than Twitter if your TA lives in Eastern Europe. Meanwhile, TikTok is the most useful network to start a conversation with Gen Z and Gen Alpha.
Video hosting platforms. When we see this word combination, YouTube and Vimeo most probably pop up in our heads. The former is Google-owned, therefore advertising lies at the foundation of its business model. The latter in turn has very limited ad opportunities, however, is not completely ad-free.
CTV platforms. That’s a new kid on the block that has already gathered some impressive crowds. The ad spend on this type of media is predicted to hit $20 billion this year. This means that there are some lucrative opportunities that draw advertisers. Notably, ads on these platforms are very similar to traditional TV, but cost significantly less.
As for the position of video ads, we’re going to talk about the inseam ads. These are the promotional clips that appear while a user watches content. Depending on how and where the ad is delivered, there are three main types:
- Pre-rolls (displayed before the main content)
- Mid-rolls (displayed as a commercial break during viewing the main content)
- Post-rolls (displayed after watching the main video)
5. Be on the lookout
Video ad strategy is not something you create once and then use the same advertising plan over and over again. Surely, there will be a need to return to it, reassess, update or even completely reinvent it. For this, you’ll have to keep your ear on the ground to stay aware of the changes, trends and innovations. As of now, here are some of the dominant trends to be aware of when creating a video ad:
- Vertical format: this comes in handy simply because there are more and more smartphones out there. As a result, over half of the world’s traffic is from mobile devices. And since 94% of the time the phone’s orientation is portrait, it only makes sense to have a separate vertical video for mobile.
- CTV/OTT platforms. As we’ve already mentioned above, these platforms are gradually but confidently taking over the market: it is estimated that 50 million users will cut cords in favor of streaming content onto their TV or connected devices by 2022. This is where the audiences are moving, and that’s our task as advertisers to meet them there with relevant ad videos.
- User-generated content. We in the industry are mesmerized by ads that have skyrocketing production budgets, luxury from “J’adore” commercials and visual effects from the “Avatar” movie. Users may also pay some attention to those, but most probably they will not believe them. Three-quarters of younger generation users said they trusted content created by “average people.” This means you need to think about how to feature content generated by users. Your video ad can include a large variety of types of content from comments to video reviews, social posts, etc. Why bother? For the advantages user-generated content offers: cost-efficiency, originality and the social proof it demonstrates.The Swedish Tourist Association resorted to user-generated content to create a truly fascinating campaign “Call a Swede.” The idea behind it was that people from anywhere in the world could randomly call any Swedish citizen and ask any question about their home country. The ad features phone calls with real people that didn’t have any training or scripts for the conversation. Needless to say, the campaign was welcomed with great success.
It doesn’t take a village to create a video strategy, especially if you know what you are doing. If you don’t, then follow the five steps offered above. The final piece of advice would be to always stay open to changes and experimenting with new approaches. There’s no sure way to make the success metrics of every single video ad campaign go through the roof, but constantly experimenting and utilizing the same practices from different angles will give you experience and a better understanding of your audience, market segment and even your brand. Stay armed with courage, consistency and agility. Keep chopping that wood and the tree will fall.