Facebook advertisers are adapting to the fast pace of videos

You’d think pet food brand IAMS would have a built-in advantage getting Internet surfers’ attention, given its emphasis on cats and dogs. But even pet brands have to get creative to be seen on Facebook, where the newsfeed scrolls by pretty fast.

So IAMS has worked, like many brands and their creative agencies, to adapt its video to platforms like Facebook. Its latest campaign, featuring a cat on a motorcycle, was viewed more than a million times on Facebook. (Facebook counts a view after it plays for three seconds and charges for views based on different criteria, which can vary depending on the campaign.)

“Our goal with this campaign was to test new ways to reach our consumers on Facebook with engaging video content and learn how to encourage them to stop and watch,” said Mindy Barry, marketing director of cat brands at Mars Petcare.

With most users consuming so rapidly, it is important that the action starts right away and plugs the brand within seconds. The pet-food maker’s video was basically designed for Facebook, with its fast-scrolling user behavior. Even if a person were to scroll quickly past the video, they are likely to catch the cat superimposed on the bike with the IAMS logo on it.

The IAMS video strategy uses tactics that are becoming essential to success on social media and mobile devices. To top it off, this particular campaign also tapped a lineup of user-generated cat content, which IAMS licensed.

“The work for IAMs Cat started by sourcing little-viewed but highly entertaining consumer-created video content,” said Rich Guest, president of Tribal Worldwide North America, the agency behind the campaign. “A layer of branded CGI was layered over the original video to grab consumers’ attention in the first second or two.”

How did @IAMS get speedy scrollers on Facebook to stop and watch one of their videos?

A video posted by Digiday (@digiday) on

Perhaps surprisingly, pet ads are not even among the most viewed on Facebook. A recent report by Kinetic Social showed video ads from pet brands have a less-than-10-percent completion rate on Facebook, behind gaming, entertainment, homes, consumer goods, food, retail and others.

Advertisers are investing heavily in Facebook video because it is one of the few sure places on mobile devices they can deliver a brand-focused message that even comes close to what television has done for decades.

Of course, Facebook is not alone developing these video opportunities. It competes with YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat and publishers across the Web.

Earlier this month, Facebook said it reached 8 billion video views a day, which was double the count in April.

Complicating things for advertisers, they have to address all the possible platforms for their videos, because there are varying formats — some vertical, some not, some with sound, some without, some automatically play, some require a click to start. Just taking existing video from a TV spot is not the way to go, Guest said.

“Simply porting an existing 30-second or 15-second TV commercial to Facebook is a suboptimal experience for the consumer and a strategy that is less likely to stop the consumer from scrolling past a brand’s content,” Guest said.

IAMS Dog tackled this TV dilemma in its latest campaign that featured a story about a dog named Duck. A longer spot meant for TV waited until the end to reveal why the family chose that name. (It turned out that the boy in the family had mispronounced the original name, Duke.)

Heartwarming as it was, the story just didn’t fit the instant gratification demanded by Facebook users.

“We re-edited the spot to be hyper-focused on the name of the dog,” Guest said. “We also included subtitles at the start of the video alerting viewers to turn on the sound as well as an end-card inviting viewers to share the story of how they named their dog on the brand’s Facebook Wall.”

That was the IAMS’ most responded-to post, Guest said. The user-generated cats video is the evolution of what the brand started with the boy and his dog Duck video.

“This content has just launched, but we are encouraged by the initial results and the way that the content seems to be holding the consumers’ attention from start to finish,” Guest said.


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