5 tips for creating effective Facebook video ads

Facebook introduced autoplay video ads over a year ago, and followed it up last summer with greater reach and frequency buying capabilities. It also recently announced, as part of its Q4 earnings report, that 3 billion videos are viewed on its site each day. However, many leading brands and marketers are still struggling with how they can maximize the platform.

Marketers from the brand and agency side gathered at Jack Morton Worldwide during Social Media Week yesterday to discuss how to create great video content for Facebook.

Here are five key takeaways:

The three-second rule
On the Facebook feed, each video ad starts autoplaying and stops as soon as people scroll past it. This means that the brand must catch a person’s attention almost immediately — in the first three seconds.

“In the broadcast mindset, advertisers knew that they had people captive and so they didn’t actually have to worry about the first few seconds,” Chris Pape, founder and executive creative director at agency Genuine Interactive, told Digiday. “You could do something spectacular seven seconds in or have a punchline at the end. But now, the first three seconds are the most important thing.”

The first three seconds are arguably even important from a metrics standpoint. Facebook defines a “video view” as a view of three seconds or more and uses it as a metric to track all brand videos.

Keep it quiet
Through Facebook’s autoplay feature, each video starts playing without sound as a person scrolls down their feed. Therefore, it is essential for brands to be able to get their message across visually and ensure that the content is engaging silently as well.

“Facebook, especially on mobile, is a silent medium,” Pape said. “Brands have to channel their inner Charlie Chaplin and create videos that are visually appealing. The story of the video should be able to be conveyed even without a voice over.”

Make it authentic
The videos that tend to resonate the most do not ape the broadcast format. They prioritize the story and user engagement over explicitly selling their products. The Facebook mindset really means abandoning everything that brands and marketers know all about broadcast.

“The thing to consider in these video experiences is how we are going to add value if we’re going to insert the brand into a user’s feed,” Joe McCaffrey, head of social at Huge, said. “A TV viewer is conditioned to expect being interrupted by advertising. On Facebook, however, there is a greater opportunity to blend in to the experience and provide value through that social content.”

Be flexible
Digital video does not require ad spends of upwards of millions of dollars, and Facebook has tools that let you target specific segments of your audience initially to see what resonates the most. So brands must be nimble when it comes to their different options.

“It’s good to make a couple of different versions and see what performs best, instead of churning it all out in one go,” Mike Cassell, account director at Genuine, told Digiday.

“To really react to the authentic moments, there needs to be a mindset shift,” added Pape. “You can’t have everything planned.”

The customer comes first
Facebook allows targeting based on real people as opposed to cookies, which lets brands more accurately control their reach and frequency across devices. It also allows them to better appeal to potential customers and tailoring content aimed at specific segments.

“It is very important to stay true to the customer and and make sure that the message resonates with them — and that goes beyond likes,” Kevin Truong, brand manager at Lysol, said.


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