Before you start shooting video, or even writing a script, contributor Jacob Baadsgaard recommends you ask yourself these key questions
Video advertising is all the rage these days, but, as with any online advertising channel, you can’t just make an ad, run it on YouTube and expect the sales to start pouring in.
All great ads start with a great advertising strategy. Video advertising is no exception.
In fact, creating a video ad tends to be a lot more expensive than creating, say, a text or display ad, so the upfront risks of video advertising are even higher than they are in many other online marketing channels. Of course, the rewards can often be greater, too, as long as you take your time and make sure you create the right video ad.
After all, can you really afford to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars in a video ad that doesn’t produce good results?
Fortunately, if you’re thinking about making video ads, there are a few simple questions you can ask yourself that will save you from making some basic, but common, mistakes in the ad-creation process. Let’s take a look.
What am I trying to achieve?
Video views… watch time… clicks… conversions… sales… depending on your business and what you’re hoping to achieve, you could have any number of goals for your video ad. For example, if you’re trying to build awareness for the raw power of your blender, you’ll probably create a very different video ad than if you’re trying to get people to adopt puppies.
Here are a couple of things to consider when trying to figure out what you want to achieve with your video ad.
Where in the funnel is my target audience?
In general, upper-funnel videos that are intended to build brand awareness and/or loyalty should be designed to grab and hold people’s attention. The goal is to get people to connect with the ad and your business, so metrics like video views or watch time are good measures of success.
Upper-funnel video ads typically work best when they are fast-paced and engaging. Your content should make your audience eager to see what will happen next all the way through to the end.
Lower-funnel videos are typically designed to get people to buy or convert. You might run this type of ad as part of a remarketing campaign or use them to advertise to a very targeted audience. For these types of videos, the most important metrics are usually conversions or sales.
Unlike upper-funnel video ads, lower-funnel video ads don’t need to be fast-paced and ultra-engaging (though that is always good). Your goal is to get people to buy or convert, so it’s best to quickly establish that what you’re advertising is awesome and then encourage them to buy or convert by overcoming whatever objections they may have.
How should my audience be different after they watch my ad?
Regardless of what you want to achieve with your ads or how you plan to measure their success, it’s important to think about how you want your ad to affect your target audience. More than almost any other type of marketing, videos allow you to give people an experience.
The wrong experience will make people click “Skip.” The right experience will change them in some way.
The key here is to identify what impression you want to make on your target audience. Do you want them to feel like your business is funny and personable? Or do you want them to be excited to make a purchase? Eager to call you? Angry? Happy? Inspired?
Your understanding of what you want your target audience to experience and how that experience should change them will form the foundation for your video script, so it’s important to take your time and really think through what you want your ad to achieve.
How do I grab my audience’s attention?
Good ads stand out. That’s true whether you’re writing a text ad or creating a movie trailer. If you want your video ad to achieve your goals, you need to create content that grabs your target audience’s attention.
The easiest way to do this is to watch your competitors’ video ads and/or video content. Looking for consistent elements in their videos will help you identify important messages or themes you should consider in your own ads. But also keep an eye out for what you can do differently.
For example, if their videos are fairly simple and serious, you might want to create a funny video or one that is quicker-paced. If their videos are to-the-point sales pitches, you could try creating ads that tell an emotionally compelling story.
The important thing is to find a way to achieve your goal without creating “me too” ads that your audience won’t be able to distinguish from the competition. If you can make them chuckle or cry or catch them off guard, you’ll pique their interest, and they’ll want to keep watching.
How will I make my video?
At this point, you might feel ready to start coming up with script ideas, but there’s one more aspect to video ad creation you need to consider before you start brainstorming: how you’re going to make the ad.
This is important, because what you have available to work with will have a huge impact on what sort of a video ad you can create. If you have a $100,000 budget and an in-house video team, you can hire actors, create special effects, film at multiple locations — you’ve got a lot of options, so you can probably make almost any idea work.
On the other hand, if all you have is a $1,000 budget and a smartphone, your options are a lot more limited.
Now don’t get me wrong, you can do a lot with $1,000 and a smartphone, but you’ll need to be thoughtful about what sort of video ad you make. You can’t film a $100,000 script on a $1,000 budget.
Trust me, I’ve seen a lot of businesses try, and the results are always bad.
So, as you try to come up with an ad that will achieve your objectives and grab your audience’s attention, keep the following considerations in mind.
What will this cost me?
As mentioned above, your total budget can have a big impact on what kind of video ad you can create. However, that’s not the only cost you need to consider.
You can keep your costs lower by doing a lot of the work yourself, but that may require a huge time investment — especially if you’ve never run a shoot or edited footage before.
What do I have to work with?
Depending on what equipment you have on hand and what sorts of shots your script calls for, you may need to rent or buy additional equipment, like a camera, tripod, gimbal, slider, video editing software and more. You’ll need to account for this in your cost assessment.
With the right script, you can keep your equipment needs to a minimum, but it’s something you should think about before you start brainstorming script ideas.
What skills do I have access to?
Even if you have all the right equipment, you may not know how to use it. Renting a slider doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get great slider shots. Cinematographers, gaffers and film editors get paid well because they’ve put in the time to develop specific skill sets.
Creating an amateur video ad that screams, “I don’t know how to work a camera!” is certainly a good way to get your video ad to stand out… but not in the way you want it to.
So, if you don’t have ready access to the right equipment or skills (and can’t afford to hire someone else who does), you’ll need to account for that in your script. It’s much better to create a simple, polished ad than to create a viral mistake because your vision exceeded your abilities.
Every great video ad campaign starts with a great video advertising strategy. But, unlike other types of online ads, creating a video ad is a fairly involved and often expensive process, so it’s important to take your time and make sure you create the right ad the first time.
To do that, there are three things you need to account for before you start brainstorming video ad ideas:
- What am I trying to achieve?
- How do I grab my audience’s attention?
- How will I make my video?
Taking the time to answer these questions in advance will save you from wasting a lot of time, money and effort. After all, the better you understand your goals and options, the more you can focus your efforts on getting the best possible results out of your video ad budget.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.