Would You Want to Watch Your Facebook Ad? How to Make Your Video Stand Out

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Nervous that your brand’s Facebook videos are not getting the attention you’d like? You should be. The hard fact is, you have exactly 2.5 seconds to get a user’s attention on desktop before they scroll past your video. If that number isn’t frightening enough, that number drops 32% to 1.7 seconds if that user is on a mobile device.

To add to this, digital marketers say they are planning to up their video ad game over the next twelve months, contributing even more noise to an already saturated video environment. According to eMarketer, a recent study revealed that nearly 71% of U.S. marketers plan to invest in social video ads over the next year, with 66% saying they plan to use Facebook to do so. And, despite the wide assumption that millennials no longer care about the platform, it actually remains the top used social media channel among that demographic, per recent ComScore data.

As this increase in video floods the social giant, your content, more than ever, needs to find a way to stand out. Here are six things to keep in mind to make those 1.7 seconds work for you.

1. Understand how your audience consumes social media.

More than half of Facebook users only access the service on mobile. Mobile users have a short attention span. They scroll through quickly and frequently, and often have the sound off. It is absolutely essential that marketers design with the screen in mind, and create content that grabs attention right away, without sound necessarily having to be a factor.

Taking into consideration how your media is being bought and how it will display in-feed is a large part of the battle. Facebook is wonderful at giving marketers advertising levers to maximize performance: levers such as purchasing your video on an auction vs. by reach/frequency, CPM vs. 10-sec view, captioning vs. not. All of these considerations will have a tremendous impact on the performance of your content, and understanding how and where your audience consumes their media will help better influence your decisions when pulling these levers.

2. Are you contributing value to the internet?

When creating content, let ideas come from identifying the following from your audience: fears, wishes, unmet needs, goals, etc. What do they care about? What inspires them? What helps them achieve their goals? Don’t just broadcast information about your brand: find a compelling way to weave your brand into a story that is interesting or useful to your audience, but also makes sense for what your brand does.

3. Choose quality over quantity.

Reaching the right user at the right time with the right content is crucial in getting that user to purchase. In fact, a recent Facebook and Oracle Data Cloud study on reach-optimized campaigns vs. action-optimized campaigns found that the top reach quartile of campaigns drove 3X the number of total people impacted at 10% less cost per person impacted.­ The reach-optimized campaign was more cost-efficient, and had greater impact on sales, as measured by Datalogix.

Unlike other ad outlets, the b­eauty of Facebook is the ability to hyper-focus messaging on qualified targets, so don’t make the mistake of contributing to wasted impressions.

4. Optimize your message across channels.

Your Facebook ads don’t have to be standalone properties. In fact, the social network recently found that memory encoding increased 19% when Facebook was used to prime TV ads. In this study, higher levels of brain activity were reported among participants who saw ads on Facebook first and then watched TV ads for the same   brand the next day, versus those who were primed with additional TV ads. The results were even better when the ads were optimized for Facebook – that is, made shorter than the TV ads, and included branding earlier on in the video. When putting together your campaign plan, make sure that the messaging works for the medium you’re using, and keep in mind the creative characteristics for the specific channel.   Because of the speed at which users interact with the Facebook feed, these ads must pare down on the amount of content, grab attention right away, and mention the brand much earlier on than a TV ad would.

5. Turn challenges into assets.

More and more brands are proving that video ad limitations can actually be strengths. Hotels.com, for one, embraced the silence of Facebook autoplay ads and created content that was better with the sound off. For example, in one video, its Captain Obvious character plays horrible, off-key piano music if the sound is activated, while the scroll on the silent video reads, “Ads autoplay silently on Faceook, which is good for you, because I don’t know how to play piano.”

Meanwhile, Geico took advantage of the usually dreaded unskippable, pre-roll ad by creating a whole series of tongue-in-cheek “unskippable” videos in which all of the messaging appears in the first five seconds, with a voiceover adding “you can’t skip this ad because it’s already over.”

According to a recent New York Times article, Facebook currently owns more than 1/16th of every user’s waking time per day. The comfort the users have with the platform and the expectation of what ad units should look like creates a dulling effect on the creative that is produced. Only when a brand is bold enough to create content that excites the system will the content maximize the user impact.

6. Test, learn, repeat.

The great thing about a platform like Facebook is that it allows us to frequently test creative strategy. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different lengths, audio messaging and video messaging. Even the smallest changes can make a huge difference in delivering brand objectives and reaching the right audience.

When it comes down to it, advertisers should be looking for more ways to produce relevant content that breaks the mold. As ad icon Howard Gossage said, “The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.”