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The complete guide to video advertising


Video advertising offers a powerful platform for companies to build brand awareness and drive conversions. But what do you need to know about this form of content creation in order to see success?

Introducing video advertising

If you’re looking to take the next step in your digital marketing, video advertising is a great way to make sure your brand stands out and gets noticed.

Online video ads – whether on a social media platform, streaming services or other websites – offer huge potential to brands. They’re a format audiences are familiar with and are proven to respond well to.

Get this right and you stand to enjoy a significant return on investment. But what do you need to know in order to make this form of creative content marketing a success?

Understanding video advertising in digital marketing

The first step is to make sure you have a clear understanding of what online video advertising is, what it involves and why you should be investing resources into this area. A key part of this is ensuring you know how you can use video production to enhance your digital advertising.

What is meant by video advertising?

Put simply, video advertising refers to any online marketing strategy that uses video to promote your brand or directly sell specific products or services. It can be used to tell your brand’s story, introduce a product or drive sales.

Online video advertising differs from the ads you see on TV. For starters, you have a lot more control over both the content of your ad and who will see it. Whereas on TV, you’d be restricted to a set length and have to abide by many rules – for example, some products can only be advertised at certain times – digital advertising offers much more freedom.

Video ads can be much more versatile online than on more traditional channels. As well as building brand awareness, you can show off product demos, offer testimonials and much more. Effective placement of these ads means you can also afford to be much more specific in the type of content you produce.

How does video advertising work?

There are many places where video advertising is found online. Among the most common is on streaming sites such as YouTube, where ads play before, during or after other video content. This is useful as viewers are already primed to receive this type of content – their sound will be on, they’ll be paying attention to the screen etc – so are likely to be receptive to ads.

Elsewhere, video ads can be inserted into a user’s social media feeds, shown directly in search results or even placed on a smart connected TV. Social feeds can be especially useful for reaching a very specific audience, as the wealth of personal data available on the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn and X/Twitter means you can refine your targeting based on a wide range of criteria, including age, gender, location, income or interests. 

How effective is video advertising?

The figures say that when done correctly, video advertising offers a very strong return on investment, regardless of whether you’re using it to directly drive sales, to boost awareness of your products or to improve your company’s brand image. 

For example, according to one study in 2023 highlighted by HubSpot:

  • 92 per cent of marketers reported that video gives them a positive ROI
  • 87 per cent of professionals believe video has a direct positive impact on sales
  • 96 per cent say videos have helped increase user understanding of their product or service

Why is video advertising important?

It’s clear that video advertising can be effective, but many firms may not realise just how many potential uses it has. Paid-for video can be used in a number of ways, so making the right choice at the start of a campaign about what you want to achieve is crucial in guiding the direction of your video advertising and its content. 

How can video advertising be used for brand awareness?

Perhaps the most common use for this form of content marketing, a paid video campaign can be vital for raising brand awareness and ensuring you’re in customers’ thoughts when they come to make a buying decision.

To do this, you’ll need to create engaging, informative content that spells out clearly and concisely who you are and what your brand stands for. You don’t have to talk about specific products in this content, but you do have to explain why you do what you do and what sets you apart from your competitors.

How can video advertising be used to engage with a specific audience?

A key benefit of online advertising is its ability to be tailored to a unique audience. Much of this will be done after you’ve produced your content and are deciding where and how to publish it (more on that below), but it’s vital you have a clear idea before you write your script about who it will be aimed at so you can tailor the content accordingly.

Effective audience research is essential in this. A full understanding of your intended audience’s interests, affinities and motivations helps ensure you’re tailoring the content to answer any specific questions or concerns they have. Getting this right therefore begins long before you start production.

How can video advertising be used for storytelling?

Viewers are always more likely to engage with a video if it tells a meaningful story. At the same time, you may have heard the marketing phrase that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. This is why having a compelling narrative is a vital part of any video production, including paid advertising.

Good storytelling is about using a clear structure to communicate your intended message to the audience. This can be as simple or as complex as you like, but it needs to create an emotional connection in order to keep them watching until the end of the video and make sure it sticks in their mind afterwards.

What are the different types of video advertising?

Video ads can be broken down into a few types, generally based on where and when they’re intended to be seen. Each has its own pros and cons and different requirements when it comes to formatting and length, so it pays to learn the differences between these so that when you’re setting up a video marketing campaign, you can choose the right ad format and be sure your content is being seen in the most effective places.

What are the main types of video ads?

If you’re advertising on one of Google’s platforms, you can choose from six main types of video ads. These are as follows:

  • Skippable in-stream ads: These ads appear before, during, or after other videos, with viewers having the option to skip them after five seconds. Typically, you’ll only pay for ads that are viewed for at least 30 seconds.
  • Non-skippable in-stream ads: Similar to the above, but without the option to skip. This ensures your ad will get seen, but may frustrate users who want to see other content.
  • In-feed video ads: These may be found in other feeds, such as next to related videos on YouTube or as part of a search result.
  • Bumper ads: These are similar to in-stream ads, but are much shorter – no more than six seconds – and always unskippable, making them good for brand awareness, but offering limited time for storytelling.
  • Outstream ads: This content is shown only on mobile devices and plays automatically, but muted, on websites and apps that are not part of YouTube. 
  • Masthead ads: These ads show across the top of YouTube’s homepage, making them the most prominent – and therefore costly – type of ads. They offer great visibility, but must be reserved directly with Google.

What are the best platforms for video advertising?

The above types of ad are focused on Google’s platforms, and will mostly be seen on YouTube. As the world’s biggest video-focused website, with over 2.7 billion monthly users, it’s a great place to start with video advertising. What’s more, given Google’s wide reach, using its advertising platform lets you spread beyond the site itself to many other websites and search results. However, it’s far from the only option.

Social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn and X/Twitter all offer powerful platforms for video advertising, with the ability to target your content as narrowly or as wide as you like. A Facebook video ad, for example, is likely to reach a very different audience than LinkedIn video ads, so this is something that must be considered right from the start of the process, as simply reusing the same content across multiple platforms may not be the most effective strategy.

What are the targeting options available in video advertising?

Generally speaking, the more targeted your video ad is, the more likely it is to get results. While a mass-market brand awareness campaign can be useful in some situations, you’ll usually end up paying to show your ad to people who are unlikely to become customers. Therefore, effective targeting is an essential part of the process.

Google, for example, allows targeting based on the following categories:

  • General demographics: Including age, gender, income, location
  • Detailed demographics: Allows you to focus in on more specific groups such as students, homeowners or new parents 
  • Interests: This can allow a range of granular options and affinities, from general lifestyles and values to hobbies such as being a fan of specific sports or music genres.
  • Customer Match: This uses your first-party data to reach and re-engage with existing and previous customers.
  • Similar segments: Lets you reach individuals with a similar profile to your existing users.

What are the challenges of using video ads?

While the benefits of creating a video advertisement are clear, there are a range of pitfalls to avoid if you want to see positive results. It’s also important to think beyond the video itself – you’ll need the right analytics and reporting in place to measure its performance in order to enjoy sustained long-term success.

What are the common mistakes to avoid in video advertising?

One of the biggest mistakes many brands make when embarking on video production is setting out without a clear idea of what their central message is. This can result in unfocused videos that are too long or don’t get to the main point quickly enough. If you’re publishing ad formats that viewers are able to skip, this can mean viewers simply move on before you have a chance to effectively engage with them.

On the other hand, another common error is to make the ad too product-focused. This may seem counterintuitive if the goal of your campaign is to drive sales, but it’s important to remember that first and foremost, video advertising is about telling a story. 

How long should an effective video ad be?

There are no real limitations on how long your ad can be, unless you’re looking at specialised formats like a bumper ad, but for the most part you should aim to keep the video to around 15 to 30 seconds. This is particularly true for social media videos and unskippable ads. 

What are the key metrics for measuring video advertising performance?

Understanding how your ad is performing is vital in demonstrating ROI and informing any future activity. If you’re not taking learnings from your video to apply to the next campaign, you’ll be throwing money away. But good results are about more than how many people saw and interacted with your ad.

There are a range of figures to evaluate when considering the success of a video advertising campaign. However, the specific ones to focus on will differ depending on what goals you originally set out during the planning stage. 

According to a 2023 study by Wyzowl, the most common metrics that matter to marketers are:

  • Number of views (named by 63 per cent of professionals)
  • Audience engagement (61 per cent)
  • Leads/click throughs (56 per cent)
  • Brand awareness (43 per cent)
  • Customer retention (42 per cent)
  • Sales (26 per cent)

What can you expect when working with a video advertising agency?

To stand the best chance of success, it pays to work with an experienced video agency. The right partner can help you with every aspect of the process, from the creative work of scripting and video production to the commercial questions of how best to publish and target and what lessons to take away from the results.

With the help of a full-service marketing agency like Axonn, you can set about creating and promoting professional-quality digital video advertising that enhances your brand and drives prospective customers into your sales funnel. Get in touch today to find out more about how we can help bring your next video campaign to life.

9 Minute Read

By Chris Littley | Updated

Chris heads up all production for Axonn, overseeing our strategy, editorial, video, graphic design, social media and web development teams.

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