Facebook will be introducing a new style of video ads for marketers very soon, per their announcement last week. While there has been some backlash from the public, we’ve seen it before, and it hasn’t slowed Facebook’s developments.

Like it or not, video ads are here to stay.

Here’s what we saw when Facebook initially infused their experience with video ads:

facebook ads reaction

Just a few months later, Facebook recently announced that mobile video ads will be a part of the user Newsfeed experience, which inspired headlines like:

video ads facebook

Now, of course we’re going to hear negative comments, but I saw negative blog comments just the other day after reading an article about a dog saving a young boy’s life, so what does that tell you about the legitimacy of most negative comments?

We should absolutely be listening to people and understanding what makes their experience better, but the flip side to that is that a significant percentage of people are going to complain just to complain. The only way to be certain is to leave it to the data (CTRs, actions, engagement, CPA, ROI). Regarding video, the data clearly made enough of a case to not only keep it around, but to make it more of a part of the user experience – which should tell you something.

What we can learn from YouTube

Now, as marketers, we should be thrilled! The core of marketing is telling a great story and capturing the attention of your target audience. It’s pretty clear from YouTube (800 million monthly unique visits) that people love to watch videos (to the tune of 4 billion hours’ worth per month)! If the goal of any marketing campaign is to pleasantly surprise people (which it should be, regardless if it’s for branding or DR), then this announcement should be music to your ears.

Unfortunately, just like all new ad formats, we’re going to see a bunch of campaigns that just suck. These campaigns will push untargeted and mediocre video content, which will delight nobody, and that’s when the negative comments will start to proliferate. BUT, we’re also going to see creative heroes, who understand how to use video ads to enchant and pleasantly surprise users.

Still skeptical? Well let’s think about YouTube for a bit. This is NOT a direct comparison to Facebook because the intent is different. The point is, while Facebook video ads may not perform as well as YouTube’s, just as Facebook ads may not “work” as well as perhaps Google AdWords, there is still a massive opportunity, and we should try to remember what we’ve learned from YouTube.

Below are some screenshots of videos that have had huge successes on YouTube. Granted, not all of them were produced for paid ads, but the overall takeaways are important to focus on.

Professional Sporting Events: This highlight from the NBA netted 4.5 million views in 5 days. Considering how impressive a dunk like this is, it seems that the NBA would have an opportunity to increase their TV audience:

nba dunk video

In-person Events: Tough Mudder is a phenomenon that keeps on growing, and their ad has over 5 million views. With content like this, who wouldn’t want to attend?

video tough mudder

Apparel Brands: Reebok had huge successes on YouTube with campaigns like “Terry Tate, Office Linebacker.” While this video was comedy-based, there’s still an opportunity to run a promotion sale with appealing CTAs to drive users for videos like this one:

terry tate video

Footwear: DC Shoes generated over 42 million views for their video featuring Ken Block and his Ford Fiesta:

video dc shoes

There’s opportunity for both DC and Ford to be able to drive users to promotions.

SMB: Even SMB marketing brands like HubSpot have been able to drive video views above 300,000:

hubspot video

300,000 people talking about an SMB marketing software? Yes, it’s happening.

 

So clearly businesses CAN make ads that resonate with users, drive engagement but can also drive downstream metrics including leads, sales and ROI.

So how do you do Facebook video ads?

Since the preceding examples were all examples on YouTube, what about these video ads that are about to hit the newsfeed spotlight on Facebook? There are a few best practices that you should keep in mind:

1. Target Appropriately: Think about location, age, interests, education, connections, and sponsored stories, which typically have a higher success rate. Make sure you’re targeting your exact target market that truly would be interested in seeing your video.

2. Grab Attention Right Away:  Just as users spend only a few seconds when landing on your website to decide whether to bounce or not, a similar mindset kicks in with video. People inherently won’t want to watch your video because they’re used to a mundane experience. That means that the bar to excite is incredibly low for marketers, so right from the start be LOUD, get your users excited, and get the blood flowing! Your creative team should be ecstatic about these new ad units; it’s their time to shine!

3. Show Users Something New: Once a user has at least given you their attention, earn their retention. Show them something they’ve never seen before. People love to be the first to share something “new” with their group of friends, so give them a reason to talk about your video.

4. Have a Point: Ask yourself before even thinking about a video ad on Facebook what the goal of the campaign and video is going to be, and then make your point in a clear and concise manner.

5. Takeaway Feeling: A user has just finished watching your video; what feeling do you want them to have? How do you want them to feel? How should they feel? Figure it out and then make it so.

6. Post View Action: What do you want a user to do after they’ve seen your video? Think about your brand later in the day? Perform a search on Google the next day? Share? Like? Click to a landing page? If you’ve maintained a users attention through the end of your video, it’s not unreasonable for you to ask them for something, especially if it’s of self-relatable value to them.

7. Go Device-Agnostic: Facebook’s new format is going to allow for more of a consistent experience whether on desktop or mobile, so make sure the user experience is just as enchanting on either platform.

8. Consistent Landing Page: If you are going to drive a user from a video ad to a landing page, be consistent. Whatever you promise in the video, display it on the landing page. If the transfer experience from ad to landing page isn’t 100% clear, consider that click gone. If your video offers 50% off, your landing page better say the same thing.

9. Proper Goal Setting and Tracking: Make sure you set goals and can accurately tack performance during your campaign. Whether your goals are views, clicks, leads, sales ROI, or something else, make sure it’s in the best interest for your company in the long term.

10. Test: If you don’t see immediate success, don’t panic; just make sure beforehand that you have a few versions of your ad to test. The first impression that a user has with your video is one place to focus, but you should also test the CTA at the end. If you still want to test more, make sure there aren’t any parts during any part of your video that don’t keep the user engaged.

Well, that’s it. Video ads are coming, and it’s those advertisers who are able to truly focus on the opportunity who will see the most success. My final advice is if you’re not going to have great video ads, please keep them off of Facebook, because in the end you’ll push away your target audience, you won’t be successful internally, and your effort certainly won’t have a positive impact on the advertising industry.

Remember, we don’t want people talking about how intrusive the video ads on Facebook are; we want them talking about how the new video ads have them wanting more. Naive? Perhaps, but as marketers our goal should always be to enchant our audience, or else what’s the point?

Dan Slagen

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Dan Slagen
Dan Slagen is SVP of Marketing for Nanigans, a Boston-based agency focused on Facebook advertising perforamance.