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Seven essential rules for using social video ads

Find out about the new rules for social video ads - how to use them, when to use them and how long they should be

Broadcast Operator , Content Distribution
Raflin Sarkisyan02.02.194 min read


The best practice rules for social video ads are different to other digital ad formats. Read WildMoka’s seven essential rules for creating effective social video ads

How many times have you skipped an online video your were interested in because you were forced to watch an irrelevant ad first? Bad advertising turns consumers off, means they trust the content provider less, and means the advertiser has wasted money since few people actually saw their message.

If your organisation is developing a social video strategy, there’s a good chance ads are going to be part of your plan. The good news is that consumers don’t actually dislike advertising. Rather, they dislike irrelevant advertising. So, as long as your social video ads are of a good quality and are relevant to the viewer, your social video strategy has every chance of success.

In this guide we will look as what works in the new world of social video advertising.

Why are the rules for social video ads different?

Social video involves rapidly editing and sharing video content before posting it to social media. The content producer might be a sports broadcaster, news agency or any other kind of publisher who wants to quickly and efficiently clip and share live video and post it to their social media followers. The advertising opportunities for this kind of social video content are compelling – yet little is known about best practice for social video ads.

Over the past couple of years there’s been significant amounts of research into the optimal length and content of online video ads. However, most studies up to now have focused on generic ads – especially those found at the beginning of YouTube videos. When it comes to social video – the kind of short, shareable content that is designed to go viral, there’s been much less research since this kind of content is much newer. Essentially, the ‘rules of the game’ are very different to more standard ads we’ve seen up until now.

7 rules for success with social video ads

Here are our seven rules for making your social video ads are successful. Whether you’re a content publisher or an ad company making social video ads, the following rules will help when producing them.

1. Less than 5 seconds

Social video is designed for social media platforms where it can be posted, viewed and shared just seconds after the actual event happened. Whether it’s the latest goal in a football match or a speech by a politician, this kind of video is meant to be short, snappy and engaging. Since the social video itself may last as little as 20 seconds, you do not want lengthy ads getting in the way. We therefore recommend setting a five second limit for social video ads.

2. Consider ‘top and tail’ ads

Because social video tends to be short, there’s a great opportunity for ‘top and tail’ style advertising, where a short message introduces the video, and this is then concluded by an additional short message with call to action at the end.

For example, the social video might be a 25-second clipping of a series of incredible volleys in a tennis match. The accompanying ad might be for a chewing gum brand, which begins with a couple of seconds outlining the benefits of the chewing gum, then closes 25 seconds later with a call to action.

3. Must work silently

Social video ads are purposefully designed to be shared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – and many people have the volume turned off when they watch content on these platforms. Social video ads must therefore make sense without sound too.

4. Mention your brand (almost) immediately

A Facebook study showed that when a brand name is mentioned in the first three seconds of an ad, consumers are much more likely to recall the brand. Given that social video ads should really be no longer than five seconds, you won’t have much time to play with anyway.

Nonetheless, the importance of introducing your brand name up front should not be underestimated – do not leave viewers confused as to what they’re watching.

5. Include your brand logo

Right from the off, every social video ad should include the advertiser’s logo – this will boost brand recognition and help consumers immediately understand they’re watching an ad - rather than the social video content itself.

6. Optimise ad title and description

Back in 2017, our partners over at Wochit conducted a study of the effectiveness of different types of digital ad titles and descriptions. They discovered that ads that included lists (e.g. 3 things people love about choco-brand) or ‘need to know’ messaging (e.g. ‘you need to find out why everyone is talking about this watch’) were the most successful. This is all about giving viewers valuable information of some sort, rather than simply telling them about a product.

7. Must look good on a smartphone

Social video is most likely to be viewed on a smartphone, so you must ensure that all video ads look attractive and clear in this format – otherwise, potential viewers will be turned off immediately.

The rulebook for social video ads is evolving fast

Social video is one of the most exciting new opportunities for content publishers and advertisers. It allows for rapid sharing of exciting and timely content, boosts engagement and, if a video goes viral, can enormously expand your reach. However, since social video is designed to be highly ‘snackable’, any accompanying ads also need to be highly optimised to this new form of video content too – just following traditional advertising methods will not get you far.

By following these rules with your social video ads, you will ensure the success of your social video strategy and all massively reduce the chances that viewers might get annoyed by intrusive ads and choose to stop watching the content.

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