Video Marketing

The Complete Guide to Online Video Advertising

Kayla Matthews
Kayla Matthews

We’ve all heard it before: Video is king! But how can you make it king of your marketing strategy? Let’s examine some of the top video advertising trends and what you need to know about using this medium.

What is Video Advertising?

Video advertising is promotional content that plays before, during or after streaming content. Some marketing professionals also expand the video advertising definition to include display ads with video content, such as those that start playing when a person puts a mouse cursor over them and native video ads promoted on digital ad networks.

The Current State of Video Advertising

Video advertising is one of the most popular ways to reach online audiences. Experts believe video advertising will dominate the next decade, which suggests that now is an ideal time for marketing professionals to learn more about it and investigate how it could improve their reach and overall effectiveness with campaigns.

Although marketing with videos is gaining popularity, that doesn’t make it a guaranteed win for marketers. The results of an Irish study indicated 60% of respondents felt there was too much advertising associated with on-demand video platforms. Also, 35% said they got frustrated with those ads because they prevented them from watching their desired content.

Stats like those indicate marketers must be exceptionally careful to create video ads the audience perceives as genuinely valuable and relevant. The placement of a video ad also matters, since the goal is to make any advertising content minimally disruptive. If an ad appears where there’s a natural break in the programming, such as before a presenter discusses a new topic, viewers may be more willing to tune in. More and more marketers are using advanced solutions like Outbrain Smartads Scroll-to-Watch and Click-to-Watch video ads, in which the viewer actively opts-in to watch, and regains control over the online experience they want to have. This directly contrasts with the intrusive and annoying nature of pre-roll video, and brings much better completion rates. Check out this case study to see how it works.

Digital Video Advertising Trends

The digital video world is not static. Experienced marketers know they must stay on top of new developments to understand what audiences want and need. Learn about four relevant trends to watch.

1. Video Ads Are Not as Short

YouTube was one of the first platforms to offer six-second ads. Since late 2015, however, the most popular video ad length is 30 seconds. This data suggests that when it comes to video, people are willing to pay attention for a bit longer.

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In one recent example, OYO, one of the world’s largest hotel chains, released a series of “ad films” in the Indian market. Some of those are more than a minute long, and all of them emphasize that staying in a low-priced hotel room does not require sacrificing on quality. An advantage of an extended format is that advertisers have more time to tell a story and pull users into what’s happening on screen.

2. Mobile Users Tune in Longer

Research indicates smartphone users are more likely to watch long-form video ads than those lasting only six seconds. Once they’ve watched for six seconds, 72% of users continue to engage. Plus, they’re committed to the video more than those on a desktop.

Even among mobile users, however, attention drops sharply after 22 seconds. This finding suggests marketers creating video ads for mobile should be mindful of length based on the type of traffic they want to attract.

3. Video Ad Spend Is Increasing

A report published in April 2019 confirms digital video ad budgets are up 25% year over year. The growth is more substantial in specific industries. In media and entertainment, for example, video-based ad spending increased by 75% since 2018.

Advertisers need to remain aware of these shifts, especially if their companies show signs of pending budget cuts. Forgetting about video ads could cause them to fall behind competitors.

4. Animation Is Getting More Popular

The goal of any video advertising campaign is to keep the viewer interested. Companies can achieve magic by using animation in their ads. Additions like cartoons blended with real-life footage and motion-tracked graphics can make the content lively, relevant and fun.

Animation gives marketers more options for creating various types of video ads, some of which may be difficult or impossible otherwise. As professionals continue to study audience preferences, they’ll likely realize ways animation technology can make content more appealing. In a recent example, McDonald’s released an animated Christmas ad to audiences in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The short flick features a girl named Ellie, who appears alongside Archie the Reindeer. In a powerfully moving twist, the animation turns to live action, emphasizing the human side of the story.

Now that we’ve examined recent trends, let’s dive into content that’ll help you harness the power of video advertising.

What Type of Marketing KPIs Is Video Advertising Suited For?

Before solidifying a video advertising approach, choose the best key performance indicators (KPIs) to track. With KPIs, you’ll know if your efforts are paying off or if tweaks are necessary. The first step in an optimized video ad strategy is to choose a goal. What do you hope to achieve by the end of the campaign?

The Google BrandLab uses three categories when choosing KPIs – awareness, consideration and action. The KPIs you choose will vary based on what you’re trying to achieve. Here’s an example of some of the outcomes you might want and the KPIs associated with them.

  • Awareness: Percentage of conversations about the brand, increase in recall or recognition and number of unique views.
  • Traffic: Percentage of new visitors to a site and of people who visit after clicking on a link in a video.
  • Lead generation: Number of conversions, cost per lead on video channels versus non-video channels and overall conversion rate.
  • Purchases: Number of purchases due to a link or a promo code shown in a video ad and the average amount spent.

These goals and KPIs are not your only options, of course. Nevertheless, the examples above offer a starting point for what to measure in your video advertising strategy. Keep in mind that you should not necessarily use the same KPIs from year to year. KPIs will change as your marketing goals do. That’s why it’s smart to revisit the KPIs used for video advertising or other reasons at least annually. Then, you can ensure the KPIs still fit with your company’s overall goals.

Types of Video Ads

One reason marketers are eager to give video ads a try is they can choose from many different variations. In-stream ads are the most familiar. These appear before, during or after video content. YouTube relies on in-stream ads, for example. Some advertisements are interactive, encouraging a viewer to click a link or claim an offer.

Alternatively, non-linear ads play outside the main video, sometimes as an overlay. If a person clicks on one of these ads, the primary content they’re watching stops. Non-linear ads don’t connect to other content. If you don’t want to view it, you can keep scrolling.

You can also choose variations within the broad types, too. One possibility is an ad that plays inside a game. A video advertisement geared toward gamers is the rewarded ad. It incentivizes viewers with a game-related perk, such as an extra life, a health boost or a new tool, in exchange for watching a video. You could also invest in a native auto-play ad, which lives at the end of content, such as a blog post. It works especially well if the ad supports the content a person just consumed. If someone read an article about how to choose a coffee maker, a native auto-play ad might introduce a person to a new model of that appliance.

A relatively new option is a shoppable video ad. As you might guess from the name, shoppable ads try to encourage people to practice their purchasing power and buy things rather than just browsing for them. For example, once a viewer sees a video for a product, a link appears so that they can buy the item right away. Even better, the shopping part of the experience happens directly in whatever app the person is using. TikTok, a platform particularly beloved by teens, is reportedly testing shoppable ads by making them available to selected influencers.

The best video ads provide content that complements whatever viewers are doing online. In 2018, Amazon began testing a format called “Video in Search”. Advertisers using it could make their ads show up below the fold in search results. The videos had to be less than 90 seconds long and contain audio. Amazon intended for these ads to drive traffic to product pages, an Amazon Store or a custom landing page. The company only showed them to people visiting Amazon on an iPhone or iPad.

More advanced video ad types like native video give the viewer a chance to opt in and take control of the viewing experience. This format is gaining ground as it proves its effectiveness way beyond standard instream video. We’re talking significantly better results for completion rates and dwell time.

Display vs. Video Advertising

A display ad is a paid advertisement that appears in the digital space, whether on a website, social media network or app. The earliest ones were the rectangular-shaped banner ads shown at the top of a site’s main content. Display ads aim to boost brand awareness and purchase intent. However, their click-through rate is just 0.05% across all formats. Plus, some people demonstrate “banner blindness,” where they get so fatigued by the ads that they don’t notice them anymore.

The well-known shortcomings of display ads compelled marketers to look for other alternatives. That shift led to the use of video ads, which are great at driving awareness, engagement and conversions. In fact, 72% of people prefer video over text when learning about a product or service. And according to Forbes, the average internet user spends 88% more time on a web page that has video, compared to one without. In one study, using video on a landing page increased conversions by 86%.

What About Native Video Ads?

Native ads are ads that blend into the form and feel of the web page they appear on, so they don’t look like ads. Native ads take a softer approach to selling than conventional display ads, and they have a substantially higher click-through rate too. We discussed earlier how video ad spend is going up. A report from eMarketer shows that’s also the case for native video ads. Statistics predict that marketers will devote 38.7% of their budgets to native video ads in 2020, a slight increase from 38.1% in 2019.

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Advantages of Video Ads

Marketers can benefit from numerous perks associated with video advertising. Video content catches users’ attention, and when people tune in, brand awareness goes up. YouTube recently announced opportunities for marketers to display their video ads with “edgy” creator content. There are plenty of other ways that marketers can make compelling video ads that capture the viewers’ interest –  the only limit is imagination.

Plus, video ads are shareable, increasing reach. People share videos they love, and most streaming platforms have built-in sharing buttons. Videos convey lots of information in a short time, too. That perk makes video advertising ideal for telling a story. You can experiment with background music, camera angles and dialogue to connect with your audiences. Then, they’re more likely to remember what they see, and better yet, remember your brand.

Plus, you can optimize video for mobile devices. As a starting point, that means your marketing team should ensure the video plays smoothly on mobile devices and looks great on small screens. Take the video’s orientation into account, too. For example, many people naturally use their smartphones while holding them vertically. However, that could change if a person wants to watch a video that lasts at least several minutes. Try to imagine what people will be doing when they initially encounter your video advertising methods, then adjust your creation strategy to fit.

Why You Should Include Video Advertising in Your Marketing Mix

Making video part of your strategy allows you to engage with audiences that ignore text and banner ads. As mentioned above, marketers are increasing the money they spend on video ads. If you overlook this trend, you’ll face a competitive disadvantage.

Getting someone to click on a static display ad means impressing them enough with a single appealing image or headline. Video advertising, on the other hand, includes more elements users may find relevant or engaging. You could use a catchy song, a funny opening line or a relatable situation to get viewers hooked and urge them to watch the entire ad.

Also, advertising with video gives you more flexibility to position your product or service as addressing users’ pain points, offering something exciting or helping them live more fulfilling lives. Since many video ads start playing automatically within the primary content, you don’t need to merely hope people will click on the content. They get exposed to it during a process that occurs within an activity they choose, such as watching a YouTube star’s latest episode or playing a mobile game. Then, provided your ad resonates with them, you’ll be able to keep them interested enough to cause conversions.

Analysts think the 5G network will make video ads even more beneficial, and that’s another reason to add video-based advertising to your marketing mix now. If you want a preview of what’ll be possible with 5G concerning video ads, take the example of Verizon Media. The company recently created an animated monster called HypeZilla and showed off the character to its advertising clients. It demonstrated how an actor wearing a motion-capture suit got animated as HypeZilla in real-time and streamed across Yahoo. This example shows how 5G could drastically cut the timeframe needed for video ad creation.

How Much Should You Invest in Video Advertising

The amount you invest in video advertising will vary based on your goals and financial resources. If you’re jumping into video ads for the first time, start gradually and scale up. Consider hiring some expert help to guide your early efforts, too. Although that’s not a requirement by any means, those professionals will have their finger on the pulse of video advertising trends. Moreover, they’ll be well-positioned to offer suggestions for crafting video content that matches your brand and helps achieve those all-important KPIs you choose.

Video Advertising Effectiveness

Video advertising works for several reasons. For one, studies conclude that roughly three-quarters of consumers prefer video content over text ads. They stick in viewers’ minds, making brand recall more likely. Videos tell stories and help a brand develop its voice. Plus, native advertisements can blend seamlessly with their surroundings.

Effective video marketing can generate millions of views and shares in a relatively short time, meaning you may not need to wait very long to see substantial payoffs. Check out the Christmas 2019 video by British retailer John Lewis that got over 9 million views after just over 2 weeks.

A video uploaded to Twitter by potato chips brand Walkers Crisps starred Mariah Carey and first appeared on November 1. By the end of the month, it racked up more than 13.7 million views and achieved more than 19,000 retweets.

Then, in an example of how videos can show how products fit a person’s lifestyle and needs, American retailer Target scored big with a Spanish-language commercial for Cloud Island, its line of baby products. The content lasts only 15 seconds but features adorable images of parents and infants. Only nine days after arriving on YouTube, the video had more than 579,000 views.

It’s difficult to predict what precisely causes a video ad to make a splash with the audience. But, as these examples indicate, spending time considering that question could reap benefits for your brand. In addition to paying attention to things like share counts and views, read the comments people post. These will give you deeper insights into what people liked (or didn’t!) about the video.

How to Create Video Ads

If the video advertising trends listed above have compelled you to act, proceed with care. Choose your top KPIs, then work with an experienced company to make ads that delight viewers. Or, you may want to consider creating videos yourself. These days, you don’t need to be a video producer or spend a lot of money to create effective videos. Here is a selection of video creation tools that may help you. You should also consider the types of video ads available, and decide which is the best type for your message, distribution platform, and audience.

Are you ready to jump in and start reaping the rewards of video advertising? Go for it!

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews writes about digital technologies and online marketing for publications like Contently, Convince and Convert, Marketing Dive and PR Newswire. You can read more from Kayla by following her on LinkedIn, or by checking out her personal technology blog: