This video describes some aspects of Facebook’s targeting and artificial intelligence features that advertisers leverage when initiating ad campaigns. Which, by the way, could also be pertinent to other AI-based targeting on other platforms, such as Google and Amazon.
Although it’s clear that when an advertiser is indicating targeting preferences for his or her ads, the intent is to present those ads to viewers who are deemed to be the most likely to be interested. However, according to research from Northeastern University, Facebook sometimes displays ads to highly skewed audiences based on the content of the ad.
What we don’t know and what this video doesn’t explore is this: Are the biases in fact rationally or economically correct or incorrect?
In other words, even if the targeting selected by an advertiser is not designating a gender bias (for example), but the Facebook algorithms and data science determine that a specific gender is more likely to find the ad relevant, is that good or bad?
As an advertiser, I like the idea of generating better results with the lowest cost.
In 1962, Time magazine called David Ogilvy “the most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry.” In this 7-minute “We Sell or Else” video, Ogilvy discusses his “Secret Weapon” of Advertising.
David Ogilvy Video Transcript
I wish I could be with you today in the flesh, as they say, unfortunately I’m in India. Ever been in India? It’s very hot. If you don’t mind I’m going to take off my coat.
You know in the advertising community today, there are two worlds, your world of direct response advertising and that other world, the world of general advertising. These two worlds are on a collision course.
You direct response people know what kind of advertising works and what doesn’t work, you know to a dollar. The general advertising people don’t know. You know the two-minute commercials on television are more effective, more cost-effective than ten second commercials or thirty second commercials. You know that fringe time on television sells more than prime-time. In print advertising, you know that long copy sells more than short copy. You know that headlines and copy about the product and its benefits sell more than cute headlines and poetic copy. You know to a dollar.
The general advertisers and their agencies know almost nothing for sure because they cannot measure the results of their advertising. They worship at the altar of creativity, which really means originality, the most dangerous word in the lexicon of advertising. They opine that thirty-second commercials are more cost-effective than two-minute commercials. You know they’re wrong. In print advertising, they opine that short commercials sell more than long copy. You know they’re wrong. They indulge in entertainment, you know they’re wrong. You know to a dollar, they don’t. Why don’t you tell them? Why don’t you save them their follies?
For two reasons; first because you’re impressed by the fact that they’re so big and so well paid and so well-publicized. You’re even perhaps impressed by their reputation for creativity whatever that may mean. Second you never meet them. You inhabit a different world. But the chasm between direct response advertising and general advertising is wide. On your side of the chasm I see knowledge and reality. On the other side of the chasm, I see ignorance. You are the professionals.
This must not go on. I predict that the practitioners of general advertising are going to start learning from your experience. They’re going to start picking your brains. I see no reason why the direct response divisions of agencies should be separate from the main agencies. Some of you may remember when television people in agencies were kept separate wasn’t that idiotic? I expect to see the direct response people become an integral part of all agencies. You have more to teach them than they have to teach you. You have it in your power to rescue the advertising business from its manifold lunacies.
When I was 25, I took a correspondence course in direct mail. I bought it out of my own pocket from the Dardnell Corporation in Chicago. Direct response is my first love and later it became my secret weapon. When I started Ogilvy & Mather in New York, nobody had heard of us. But we were airborne within six months and grew at record speed. How did we achieve that? By using my secret weapon, direct-mail.
Every four weeks I sent personalized mailings to our new business prospects. I was always amazed to discover how many of our clients had been attracted to Ogilvy & Mather by those mailings. That was how we grew.
Whenever I look at an advertisement in a magazine or newspaper I can tell at a glance whether the writer has had any direct response experience. If he writes short copy or literary copy it is obvious that he has never had the disciplines of writing direct response. If he has had that discipline, he wouldn’t make those mistakes.
Nobody should be allowed to create general advertising until he has served his apprenticeship in direct response. That experience will keep his feet on the ground for the rest of his life.
You know the trouble with many copywriters and general agencies is that they don’t really think in terms of selling. They’ve never written direct response. They’ve never tasted blood.
Until recently, direct response was the Cinderella of the advertising world. Then came the computer and the credit card. And direct marketing exploded.
You guys are coming to your own. Your opportunities are colossal.
In the audience today, there are heads of some general agencies. I offer you this advice, insist that all your people, creative, media, account executives, that they’re all trained in your direct response division. If you don’t have such a division, make arrangements with a firm of direct marketing specialists to train your people. And make it a rule in your agency that no copy is ever presented to clients before it has been vetted by a direct response expert.
Ladies and gentlemen, I envy you. Your timing is perfect. You’ve come into the direct response business at the right moment in history. You’re on to a good thing. For forty years, I’ve been a voice crying in the wilderness trying to get my fellow advertising practitioners to take direct response seriously.
Today my first love is coming to its own. You face a golden future!
YouTube has a number of video advertising options. Each have their advantages and disadvantages. Some have intuitive applications, such as Outstream Ads which are specifically for mobile. Ad Sequence videos are unique in that you can show a predetermined series of ads to individual viewers in the order that you define.
Others have length limitations, such as Non-Skippable In-Stream ads (15 seconds or less) and Bumper Ads, which are 6 seconds or less.
Here are the primary YouTube video ad formats:
Skippable in-stream ads
Non-skippable in-stream ad
Video Discovery ads
Ad Sequence (This one is unique in that you can use a combination of the first three formats above to present a series of messages).
Using square and vertical video formats for mobile provides more screen real-estate, which is a plus for making a bigger viewer impact, although the standard horizontal format is best for desktop and can also be shown on mobile.
One point not mentioned in the above video is the benefits of testing different ad formats to find which works best for your product or service, as well as your overall industry.
Sales and marketing funnels are similar, although not identical. The number of steps and naming of the steps can vary from presenter to presenter. But the idea of moving cold traffic to warm prospects and ultimately to paid customers is an apt depiction for the purpose of any funnel. In the above video, the funnel steps are only 3 in number and the naming of the steps are as follows:
In this presentation, the 3-step funnel is further correlated with basic sales and relationship building such as “know, like and trust.”
Awareness = Know
Consideration = Like
Conversion = Trust
Extending the concept of this funnel even further, this presenter (Dennis Yu of BlitzMetrics) also appends the following: “why, how and what.” These latter concepts are intended to inform a storytelling framework in conjunction with the funnel.
Awareness = Know = Why
Consideration = Like = How
Conversion = Trust = What
In terms of promoting on Facebook, the gist of the presentation here is to be authentic, more story-driven and less overtly promotional.
A fundamental idea is that people want to learn, be moved or entertained; so once again, the idea is to tell a story that will resonate with the audience, rather than being purely self-promotional.
Although much of this presentation is common marketing and advertising knowledge, my favorite part is the emphasis on low-cost message testing by strategically boosting short posts on Facebook (a form of pay-per-click advertising). Once a test shows that your video is productive towards your marketing goals, then it’s time to increase your investment with that message, since Facebook will show the video more frequently for lower cost and you may even benefit from social sharing.
The above presentation also touches upon the reality of Facebook advertising by noting that the majority of your video ads may not work, as well as what would actually constitute being effective (“hitting a home run”).
Although the “formula” itself is informative and useful, personally, I would emphasize the testing over and above the funnel, since you can do the steps upside down and backward and still get results if you prioritize the testing. But if you do the steps perfectly without an emphasis on testing, there’s still no guarantee that you’re going to be successful.
In short, if you want to get your message out effectively via video, then tell stories, build relationships and test, test and test. And most importantly, never stop testing.
Years ago I went to a writing seminar and the speaker opened his presentation with a joke about how attendees want to know the secret to becoming a best-selling author. His answer: “Write a best-selling book.”
He got a good laugh from the audience.
Similarly, when creating video ads, those who are involved in the process would of course desire them 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 does not suggest that the information in the above video is not beneficial. The following points it outlines are indeed worthy:
Empathize with your customers
Focus on benefits, not features
Speak to your niche
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 idea behind the term “easy” is oftentimes marketing-speak for “it’s not.” Or stated another way, it’s analogous to writing a best-selling book. Or any book. It’s considerable work; whether it becomes a best-seller or not.
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.
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. Testing is antithetical to the title and basic point 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 ad.
And yet 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 in to 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 not be a great success, but you’ll be better informed for your next one.
Daniel Schiffer presents a behind-the-scenes (BTS) video of the shooting production for a Toronto pizza commercial.
A key takeaway is the variety of creative angles that are filmed on location, which are then punctuated and emphasized later in the video editing.
Speaking of video editing, as compelling as many of the shots are, this BTS also illustrates how much power the editing and post-production wields in delivering the impact of the final commercial.
It’s the quick cuts, speed ramps, color grading, sound effects and music that really highlight the product.
Another takeaway is how much reasonably high production value can be achieved with relatively low-budget shoots in this day and age. (Of course it’s still up to the talent of the production team to make that happen.)
Nike can regularly be counted upon to present compelling messages, particularly via video and TV. In their latest television debut, narrated by professional soccer player Megan Rapinoe, “You Can’t Stop Us” juxtaposes athletes from a variety of sports in creative split-screen actions that present a message of diversity and unity by converging different athletic moments into harmonized motions.
For those in the video production world, this uniquely features video editing, which is the least visible of the three most fundamental components of video storytelling:
Generally speaking, editing is not supposed to call attention to itself. It’s the inconspicuous power in the background, like the electricity that runs through a building. It enables what you see, but editing, like electricity, is intended to be unseen itself.
That’s thrown out the window in the above video. The editing is front and center as the conspicuous storytelling element, energizing the message in a way that invokes attention while inspiring the viewer.
Like so much of big-brand advertising, this is not selling a specific product or service. Its job is to associate in our mind positive feelings about the sponsor and by that, not only stir our imagination, but hopefully inspire us to consider their brand in our future purchase decisions. The fact that big brands spend so much each year on this strategy is a testament to its efficacy.
And to underscore the obvious: people like stories.
Nevertheless, for businesses that don’t spend multiple millions of dollars year after year to continually burnish their image, Nike’s example is still instructive. Can you present your products or services in a way that presents positive feelings among your potential buyers? Sometimes, any added cost can be negligible, or there’s no additional cost at all. For instance, when pertinent, viewer impact can be lifted by the simplicity of adding a little humor or even some quirky relation to the viewer.
More to the point: your business can benefit from the integration of storytelling.