Video Advertising: Building Ads for Attention

Read Time: 3 Minutes

Working for creative specialists Joystick, Kim Havens knows that we are living in a time when content is king. We have an endless stream of content available at our fingertips: from Netflix to podcasts to news articles. This abundance of content changes the way that consumers engage with it; shortening our attention spans from 12 seconds in 2000 to only 8 seconds in 2015 – 1 second shorter than a goldfish.

This has made our job as marketers much more difficult, but YouTube has become the go-to solution, as it provides a unique opportunity to reach an engaged audience. Unlike Facebook and Instagram, 95% of YouTube viewers will watch ads with both sight and sound. In order to make the most of this, Kim shares best practices for making engaging and exciting YouTube ads.

Creating the Arc

One of the biggest things to avoid when creating your YouTube ads is the “Traditional Story Arc” – the storyline of a traditional TV ad. This style of messaging became ingrained in the consumer consciousness back before we could record live TV and fast forward through the ads. This kind of arc – as seen below – features a slow build-up to a climax and a big reveal of the product. 

However, this model doesn’t work on YouTube. Viewers have the power to skip the ads after just a few seconds and have an attention span shorter than ever before – so a slow build-up will prove largely ineffective. This has given rise to the “Emerging Story Arc”, where the ad starts on a high to reel viewers in and reveals the brand quickly to get the brand name in before viewers can click the “Skip Ad” button. This is crucial: capturing attention in the first 5 seconds. After this high-impact opener, expect view rates to drop off. However, you can use the rest of your placement to provide more information on your product for those who want it.

Mobile First

70% of video content is viewed on mobile, so building for mobile-first is crucial. Cinematic stylings and sweeping shots might work for television, but on a small screen, a lot is missed. There are a couple of things that will be important to remember here. First of all, you’ll want to keep the pacing up to help you maintain viewers attention. Make up for dim phone screens by using bright footage, and counteract small screens with tight cropping and big text & graphics. A great alternative to the full-length YouTube ad is a bumper ad. These are short, 6 second, non-skip spots that help to capture attention and keep your message front of mind.

Growing your Story

Deploying mixtures of formats and lengths of creatives has been proven to have a positive impact on results and increases the overall reach of the campaign. For example, use a 6-second bumper ad to tease, 15-second non-skip Google Preferred ad to amplify the message, and then longer 30 second (or more) TrueView instream ads to echo your previous placements. This allows you to grow your message over more interactions – improving your brand recognition and providing the opportunity to deepen the narrative.

So your 4 guiding principles to Effective Ads are:

  • Win the first 5 seconds
  • Make it for Mobile
  • Keep it Short and Sweet
  • Evolve your Storytelling

Now go and create some engaging content!