How to Think About Video Ad Sequencing

For newer (inexperienced) marketers, I’ve observed a belief in the “holy grail” concept of advertising in general and video advertising in particular. In other words, the ever-hopeful anticipation that one ad concept or video will turn an under-performing business into a behemoth of success.

To make matters worse, there are occasional examples of ads that generate great interest and excitement and may have an outsized impact on a company’s bottom line. Super Bowl TV commercials can be an example. (Not all of them). And even though they are the most expensive broad-based advertising available, what many don’t realize is that when they work, they can also have a very low cost per viewer engagement, since not only does the Super Bowl have a massive audience, but it’s the rarest of all advertising activities where many people look forward to the ads and then share and discuss them. Hence, the advertising and ripple impact is enormous.


Yet, for the vast majority of businesses, Super Bowl advertising is not only out of the question, but even low-budget advertising may be challenging to afford and can be done on such a shoestring that no meaningful results are achieved by simply “trying” one ad concept or video.

Generally speaking, hoping for a one-shot advertising success is not going to achieve the intended result – even if, in theory, the idea sounds great on paper.


The short answer is “split-testing.” And it has been for a century. (See Scientific Advertising).

The idea is to spend as little money as possible in the beginning and then based upon the real-world results of your messaging in relation to your product/service in the environment of your own market, find what generates the best response right now. This is done by testing different messages against each other, with small budgets, to see what works.

Here’s a marketing strategy that outlines how to execute such.


Even low-budget marketers can create a bigger impact with their video advertising dollars by not only testing messaging but even video ad sequencing. And in many cases, this can be done for only an incrementally greater cost (albeit with more labor).

So, how can a low-budget marketer create a bigger impact (more profitability) with their video advertising?

The above Google/YouTube video outlines five storytelling and video sequence models that have been proven to generate more impact.


Video ad sequencing updates the traditional TV and video ad model, by allowing a marketer to present a sequence of video ads to a given viewer that tells a story, over time, attendant with a customer’s purchase path.

Typically, a viewer’s journey will progress through the video sequence campaign: seeing the first video, then the next video, and so on until the sequence is complete. Of course, this is facilitated by Google’s ability to present the video ad sequence, based on viewer actions and the advertiser’s criteria.

In other words, Google (anonymously) knows who watched the earlier videos and is able to enable the sequence. The advertiser doesn’t know who these viewers are and Google doesn’t know them by name, just as an anonymous number.

Of course, it behooves the advertiser to encourage viewers to connect via email and social media, but only a smaller percentage of viewers will do so.


Video ad sequencing provides the opportunity to show video ads on YouTube in a pre-established sequence, intended to resonate with workable story structures. Although story structures are not limited to the following five, these have been tested by Google/YouTube based upon their influence on three key metrics:

  • Brand awareness
  • Ad recall
  • Purchase intent


This sequence starts with a short video to spark curiosity through rising action or conflict. Then it moves on to a longer video with more information to deepen engagement. It ends with a shorter video that reminds viewers of the story and urges them to act.


This sequence breaks videos into separate chapters that introduce the conflict, present the climax, and resolve the story.


Need to hammer home a key point, but wary of repetition and viewer fatigue? This sequence uses four to six videos to present the same idea from different angles, and is great for customizing content based on what the viewer is about to watch.


This sequence starts with a long-form ad that introduces the concept and ramps up the story. Then it shows a succession of shorter ads to resolve the conflict and drive to a call to action (CTA).


This sequence starts with a short video that teases the story, then ends with a long-form video that completes the narrative and amplifies the message.


Regardless of whether you test one or all of the above five video ad sequences or create your own sequence from scratch, bear in mind that testing is the foundation upon which you will achieve success.

Test different sequences and, within them, test the order of videos, narratives, and messaging.

Test different lengths of sequences but consider starting with three or more videos to tell your story. In the Google/YouTube study, longer video sequences (three or more ads) had a significantly higher impact than a single 30-second video ad.

And don’t forget the actual messages presented in your video can be tested with text ads before you even get to the videos, which can save labor and money. (See Marketing Strategy).

In my experience, it also helps to have an inquisitive attitude of “let’s have fun with this” to discover increasingly more effective video advertising that resonates with your prospects and customers and ultimately generates more profit.