More than meets the eye

  • by Bob Nash and Dan Martin
  • 09/09/2019

The world is full of people who can cut a quick film on their phone and upload it to YouTube for all to see. That’s fine and it’s what makes the Internet fun.

But deep knowledge and years of experience are essential ingredients for making truly effective video advertising. From our point of view, ‘effective’ means more than clicks – it equates to measurable, converted customers or donors. We use video to go a lot further than simple awareness.

We’re not just talking about using film. Any ad featuring ‘the moving image’ - from animated banners, to graphic transitions, to Facebook and Instagram Stories and more - is capable of capturing consumers’ imaginations and turning that interest into hard cash.

But you need to approach it in a very different way from that of a conventional agency or marketer. Getting measurable response is a hard-won art. We’ve made hundreds of hard-working DRTV spots, and that kind of experience (and some of the secrets) are not too difficult to translate into social media: as long as you know what you’re doing.

Here are just some of the things a true expert will understand:

Purpose – “We want a video” or “You need a video” is a poor approach. If you view video as splashing some cash on a cool execution for Facebook, it probably won’t work.

Instead, go straight to why you’re doing this. What’s the outcome you want to achieve? We see lots of content that’s okay or even good. But that doesn’t mean it’ll lead to the right outcome. Success lies in creative technique and that comes in several guises.

Social video itself is not a big deal. Social video containing a purpose that supports your goals and is also measurable is more interesting, but much harder.

Format – Deploying the work in the correct channel, using the right format, is vital. ‘Versioning’ is a key part of determining the most powerful combination available to suit your purpose. Did you know, for instance, there are 11 placements through the Facebook ad platform alone?

It’s easy to make mistakes. Is your video framed in the right dimension? Is it the right length? It’s pointless making a 16-second pre-roll film for a 15-second slot. And there’s a risk you won’t know that it was never shown.

Storytelling – Video advertising is an exciting opportunity for creative agencies. It’s a canvas we can exploit to its full potential, using images, moving pictures and sound. Good storytelling experience can make all the difference.

Much like any story, the right beginning is crucial. In an era when consumers give short shrift to slow-burning content, the first three to five seconds hold the key to success. The ‘middle’ is equally crucial - especially on Facebook, where a 15-second ‘ThroughView’ is a measure of success. And then there’s the ending.


Engagement – What’s the first response you want to provoke by the time your viewer reaches the end? What about the response to the next video, and the one after that? Building an audience for your content is an art. If viewers are gripped by the first ad, you’ll have a platform to move them on to the next story you’re keen to tell. (All linking back to your overall purpose, of course.)

Beyond that, how can the entire customer journey be optimised - and simplified - to make it easy, fun and fulfilling for people to understand the content and what you’re trying to achieve?

Metrics – Video may be efficient and relatively cheap, but it still needs to wash its face. There’s so much performance data we can glean from the various platforms. The trick is to know what’s important. How are you measuring your video creation against its stated purpose?

For example, you can cut the data by demographics, location and total views. Beware going down the rabbit hole of results, however: the more granular you get, the more you’re likely to miss the bigger picture of performance. An agency can help you bring the right balance to ROI reporting.

Future – Today’s powerhouse platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, are key battlegrounds for ‘share of eyeball’. But we’ve also got an eye on what’s coming down the line.

Look at YouTube, following Apple, Amazon and Netflix into the content production arena. It’ll be interesting to see how video advertising opportunities progress with the growing penetration of smart TVs into our homes. Digital platforms previously confined to computers are graduating to bigger screens.

This is a bandwagon you can be sure more and more marketers - both client and agency side - will be keen to jump on. After all, according to Google, six out of 10 consumers now prefer to watch video content rather than TV. Meanwhile, Hubspot reports 81% of businesses are turning to video as part of their marketing strategies. This is hardly surprising, as there are many benefits:

  • New ways of engaging consumers and provoking response
  • Low cost of entry compared to other forms of advertising
  • Ability to test and learn quickly
  • Speed to market - much faster than TV ad cycle
  • Spread the narrative over a series of executions


Collectively, our team has a wealth of experience in creative storytelling, channel knowledge, response expertise and film production that’s needed to create effective video ads and realise these benefits.

Check out more of our video and social media content for the likes of Plan International UK and Donald Russell. And note this strategy can also work for B2B audiences: we had great success helping a financial services charity engage a banking audience, with video playing an important role in its fundraising strategy.

Experienced support is crucial if your online films are to help you achieve your goals. Avoid motion sickness by getting in touch with us today.

The latest from WPNC

Stay up to date

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.