“How to Make a Video Ad (the easy way)”

Years ago I went to a writing seminar. I don’t recall anything about that seminar except the joke the speaker used to open his presentation. He quipped that attendees often want to know, “What’s the secret to becoming a best-selling author?” His answer: “Write a best-selling book.”

He got a good laugh from the audience. Those in the room were well aware that his answer, although not false, was so over-simplified that it was meaningless — other than as a punchline.

Similarly, when creating video ads, those who are involved in the process would of course desire such ads to be productive. And it’s not unusual for clients to want them produced for as little cost as possible. More pragmatic business owners and marketers may just want to see positive results for their video expenditures.

Hence, the idea that there is an easy way to make video ads is a compelling concept, even if the above title is more suited to generating clicks than predicting real-world video ad success.

Nevertheless, this is not a suggestion that the information in the above video is not beneficial. The following points it outlines are indeed worthy:

  • Empathize with your customers
  • Evoke emotion
  • Focus on benefits, not features
  • Speak to your niche
  • Avoid ‘waffle’
  • Promote a call-to-action
  • Make your ad feel native

But it’s also probable that the speaker in the video, however well-intentioned, may never have run ads with his own money for his own business.

The reason I say that is because a better depiction for the term “easy” would be “it’s not.” Or stated another way, it’s analogous to writing a best-selling book. Or any book. It’s work; whether it becomes a best-seller, or not. And creating video ads is work, whether they end up being effective, or not. And in many competitive industries, it’s considerably more work to make them profitable.

Representing all the above points in a video can still result in a video ad that loses money. Conversely, neglecting some of the points can yield great success. For example, big-brand advertising often does not emphasize product benefits or features and may not have a call-to-action. Check out this Nike TV ad, and notice how it’s not presented as an ad at all. Yet it does a reasonably good job of evoking emotion and generating a favorable impression for their brand. And — spoiler alert — it’s not inexpensive or easy.

The most basic info not represented in the above “How to Make a Video Ad” is avoiding the #1 error in TV commercial and video production, and specifically, message testing, also known as split-testing, or just “testing.”

Testing belies the basic point and title of the video above: it’s not only work, but it’s added labor on top of the fundamental efforts of writing, producing and editing the video ad.

And yet split testing messaging before even writing the script can be essential to informing optimal messaging and eventual success. And then testing variations of the messaging can help to refine the video development before committing larger resources towards paying to get it viewed.

Having said that, a lack of testing may not be enough of a reason to not produce videos at all. But the actual shooting of the video is only one part of the writing, production and editing process.

In brief, there’s a lot more to the “writing” part of the process than is indicated in the above presentation on “easy” video ads.

Even more basic to the process of creating video ads is how does it fit into your existing marketing and advertising strategy?

Like anything else in life, the best way to find out is to try. Or, in relation to creating videos: to get started. Your first video ad may or may not be a great success, but you’ll be better informed for your next one.