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Glossary term

Video advertising

Quick definition

Video advertising is the use of video content to sell products or services.

Key takeaways

Video advertisements are one of the most effective forms of advertisements, as moving images are easier for customers to recall than static images or text. 

Since many publishers allow viewers to skip a video after the first five seconds, those five seconds are critical.

The most successful videos tell a story and find ways to grab a viewer’s attention without relying on a hard sell. 

New and emerging technologies like connected TVs and virtual reality create new spaces for the implementation of video ads.


Q: What is a video advertising strategy?

A: A video advertising strategy is how a company can use video content to reach their marketing goals. Video marketing could be used to promote a brand, present a how-to guide, share customer testimonials, or stream live events. A video advertising strategy refers to the process of setting goals and planning how to use the videos, how to determine the impact, how to reach a target audience, and how you test and analyze the results.

The type of customer a company is targeting will affect the marketing strategy. If a brand targets somebody already using their product or service, the video campaign might be more focused on making the customer aware of new products or services they can upgrade to. If the brand is focusing on new customers, the goal will be making the viewer aware of what the company does using introductory content.

Q: What is the difference between web and mobile app video?

A: Web and mobile video have different formats. These are what are known as “tags” in advertising, which are essentially the text files that reference where the ad assets are. There are different formats for these tags, some of which will not work in mobile environments, like on a smartphone. You have to be aware of what kind of tags you're running when creating videos for the various environments where ads can be seen.

Q: How do video ads get placed online?

A: Companies generally distribute ads to online channels using a demand-side platform, or DSP. A DSP will allow an advertiser to upload a video to reach digital audiences where they're spending time consuming media. 

Once the campaign is set up and targeted, the DSP will automatically deliver the ad to various environments according to the company and the KPIs of the campaign. There are many different areas where consumers can see video ads, like during a commercial break on traditional TV or on connected TV devices like Roku, between levels on mobile games, or before or after video content on sites like YouTube.

Q: What is the industry standard for online video ad length?

A: For the most part video ads are either 15 or 30 seconds long, but more recently, brands have started running five- second ads, particularly on social media like Facebook, Snapchat or YouTube. Some websites already allow users to skip the ad after five seconds, and in general if a company doesn’t catch a user’s attention in the first five seconds, the user won’t continue watching. By making ads only five seconds long, companies avoid skips and can focus their efforts on the most effective part of the ad.

Q: How long should a video ad campaign run?

A: It depends on the KPIs of the campaign. If the purpose of the campaign is brand awareness, the ads might run for an indefinite amount of time or until they have hit a target number of impressions or views. If the campaign is focused on getting customers to take a certain action, the ads might run for a shorter amount of time.

Q: What are the benefits of running video ads?

A: Videos tend to get more engagement, and more organic engagement, than other types of media. People can recall video ads better than other forms of advertisement, and moving images are likely to be more impactful and memorable than a static image banner ad.

Q: What makes a good video ad?

A: The first thing companies should try to do is center the video ad around a story rather than a specific selling point. Customers don’t tend to like hard sells. Second, when designing online video, focus on the first five to ten seconds, because most users click away after that point. Third, it’s a good idea to use humor when appropriate. People like to laugh. If you have a funny video ad, people are more likely to remember it. 

Finally, you have to make sure you optimize for search engines to find your video (SEO), or no one will see it. There are third-party companies that can assist with tagging videos and back linking to increase SEO on Google. 

With shorter ads, it isn’t always possible to tell a story, so these ads should focus on quickly grabbing the reader’s attention and getting the point across.

Q: How can a company connect video ads to a larger campaign?

A: Companies can use third-party data to target specific potential customers with video ads, then use the data gained from the video ads to determine how best to reach the viewers with other forms of advertising. For example, they can record the view-through rates of a video and then choose to target with display advertising or social advertising only the people who viewed the entire video.

Q: What are the challenges of video ads?

A: Video ads have a higher up-front cost compared to other forms of advertising. You need a whole team of people to create and launch the ad. 

Ad fraud can also be a problem. There’s a lot of money in the market, so there will always be bad actors trying to defraud advertisers. If advertisers don’t have any tools in place to stop fraud, they can waste a lot of money. 

Companies also need to focus on brand safety when running a video ad campaign. Brands don't want their art displayed alongside bad content, so if they're not putting anything in place to mitigate that risk, they can get in trouble. To prevent brand safety issues, advertisers can work with third-party companies to evaluate ad locations and determine if they are fraudulent or will reflect poorly on the advertiser.

Q: What are the most common KPIs for video advertising campaigns?

A: For campaigns with the goal of brand awareness, common KPIs are impressions, unique views, and ad viewability. A mid-funnel ad campaign might focus more on completion rates and view time to see if customers are watching the entire ad. If a company wants viewers to take a specific action, the most common KPI is conversion, which could be anything from clicks, to sign ups, to sales.

If brands don’t focus on the right KPIs for a specific campaign, they won’t see the expected or desired results.

Q: Do video ads have limitations?

A: A video ad is a linear piece of content. It’s difficult to adjust it based on what the user’s thinking. With other forms of advertising, you can often take a user’s reaction into account when determining what to show them. 

Since video ads are expensive and skippable, there is the chance you could invest a lot of money into an ad that no one watches. If you don’t grab a viewer’s attention early on, you’ve lost them.

Q: How can companies effectively place ads?

A: By using a DSP, companies can locate the best channels to reach their customers. Mobile devices and connected TV tend to be the most effective locations, because that’s where the majority of users are spending their time. 

When it comes to increasing the effectiveness of ad placement, companies need to choose a DSP that has multiple ways of targeting and allows them to analyze user behavior and potential ad locations. If a brand is working with a DSP that does everything for them and doesn't provide options to tweak things, it won’t be a successful experience. Brands should choose a DSP with advanced features to tease out the most successful supply.

Q: How will video ads continue to evolve?

A: One main thing that will appear more and more is personalized ads, like ads that adjust based on a user’s location, demographic, or interests. This is already happening to some degree, but it’s still in the early stages. As technology improves, the ability to personalize ads will increase. 

For example, social media sites like Facebook are already experimenting with personal ads. They know your gender, age, and location, and they can use that information to make small adjustments to the video ads they show to different users. The base ad stays the same, but certain aspects of the ad can change. 

New and emerging technologies will also affect the future of video ads. Connected TV platforms, like Roku or Apple TV, are already making a big impact on the industry. People are moving away from traditional TV, and publishers are finding better ways to monetize their live streaming content. Brands are seeing connected TV as a new high-impact environment to place their ads. 

And as virtual and augmented reality become more commonplace, companies will have another new space to place ads. They can start looking into opportunities like running ads on virtual billboards in virtual worlds.

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