Facebook Video Ads: The Secret Weapon You’re Too Afraid To Use

Move over, YouTube. Facebook is now the number one platform for brands to post video ads.

Since launching the autoplay feature, Facebook now gets 8 billion video views per day, and its video ads will occupy 15% of the digital marketing space by 2017. Wall Street research firm Nomura estimates that Facebook is on track to earn $3.8 billion from its video ad initiatives by 2017.

It has a lot of brands hooked with its laser-like targeting abilities and powerful analytic tools, which provide insightful metrics about who watches their videos, and for how long. It breaks down the number of organic and paid views, as well as the average duration people watched your video.

But a lot of companies—especially smaller ones—don’t use video ads. They’re held back by the notion that video is too hard to make, or doesn’t produce conversions the way other ads do. That’s where they’re wrong. If you’re not using video in your social outreach campaigns, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

Facebook Video Ads

1. Video lets you home in on warm leads

One of the best aspects of Facebook video ads is the custom audience retargeting feature. Even if you target specific demographics or interests, not everyone is going to fully pay attention to your ad. Some people are seeing it, sure—they’re scrolling through their newsfeed and maybe see the first couple seconds as it autoplays on their phone or computer.

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But some people are actually watching it. They’ll view the the whole thing—or even click your call-to-action. They’ll be so interested by your value proposition or hooked by your content that they’ll want to go to your site.

These are your warm leads.

How to Find Your Warm Leads

If you log onto Facebook Ads Manager, you’ll see a breakdown of who viewed your video and who completed your video. To count as “viewed,” a customer needs to see at least 3 seconds of your video. To count as “completed,” they need to have seen at least 95%.

People who viewed it are pretty interested in your product. Even though ads autoplay, customers have to be a little bit interested to watch more than 3 seconds. But customers who completed your video are very interested. You had a lot of chances to lose them—and they stuck with the video! That makes them much warmer leads than people who simply watched part of it.

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Source: Digital Marketer

By creating a custom audience from these groups, you can show your next ad to just these people. You’ll get more bang for your buck by advertising this event to people who watched all of the video than people who just breezed past it.

Take for example, this video ad from Target. It shows a young girl in a princess costume dancing around the house, excited for Halloween. By creating a custom audience of people who completed the video, Target has the ability to create an audience chock-full of warm leads.

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Warm leads might be more responsive to this event that Target promoted through another ad. Customers who completed the first video might have young kids, or be interested in Target for Halloween-related materials. This “Spooktacular Kids Event” will resonate more with them, and therefore have a higher payoff for Target.

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Custom Audiences Aren’t Just for Big Brands!

This feature isn’t limited to mega-corporations like Target.

It used to be that video ads had to get a minimum of 1,000 paid video views per day for that audience’s data to be saved and sent to the advertiser. This negatively impacted small advertisers who didn’t have the budget to hit that distribution volume. They could see that people were clicking on their videos and watching them, but didn’t know who those people were to create a custom audience that they could then retarget.

That feature is a thing of the past. Even the smallest of businesses can create a custom audience to retarget.

What’s more, video view custom audiences are now dynamically updating every day, instead of not being created until a few days after a lifetime budget campaign is completed. You can easily tell who’s responding to your ad—in real time.

2. Video makes your brand relatable

It’s no secret that more exposure makes your ads more effective. And even though it’s cost-effective to show the same ads over and over again, it doesn’t lead to a lot of conversions. You need to sequence your ads.

Sequencing ads is a way to slowly introduce customers to your brand. It creates a series of different ads that walk customers down the sales funnel.

Rather than bombarding customers with an explicit call to action like “Buy Now!” sequencing prefaces this kind of ad with gentler ones. It presents an initial ad to give customers a sense of what you’re all about. A few days later, it shows a different ad to the exact same group of people. This ad builds on the first one, and presents information about how to interact with the brand. Only after these first ads do brands give an explicit call-to-action, like “Sign up now!”

Turns out, sequencing is hugely effective.

A 2014 study from Facebook shows that the retail site Refinery 29 had a much more successful campaign when they slowly introduced customers to their brand through sequencing. They showed all the ads to high-value customers. But even though they had a good pool, their ads were more effective when they used sequencing. Here are Refinery 29’s sequenced ads:

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Sequenced ad A: Introduces customers to Refinery 29 to help them build an emotional connection with the brand. (Shown to customers on days 1-4).

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Sequenced ad B: Builds on that connection, and suggests how customers might interact with Refinery 29. (Shown to customers on days 5-8).

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Sequenced ad C: Strongly suggests users click the call-to-action. (Shown to customers on days 9-12).

Here’s what they found:

  • There was an 87% increase in people visiting the landing page who saw the sequenced ads
  • There was a 56% increase in subscription rates among people who were exposed to the sequenced ads
  • People who saw all three of the ads converted at higher rates than those who had seen just one or two of the ads.

Facebook’s study concluded that sequencing works because it tells a story—it makes customers feel an emotional connection to your brand before asking anything of them. Sometimes it takes a lot of ads to create that connection, especially if you don’t have a lot of brand recognition.

Videos Build A Strong Connection

Video is a shortcut to building that emotional connection. “Video is a format that marketers have used for a long time to build an emotional connection to brands,” says Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO. It’s a big part of the reason videos have become so popular for Facebook advertisers.

Videos are easier to connect with than static images. As Chris Savage, CEO of the video-hosting platform Wistia, writes: “Video brings people back into the equation and lets that kind of relationship come alive on the Internet. It lets you take your company and show it to people in a whole new kind of light, and it lets customers see you for who you really are: a collection of people who care about what you do and who you serve.” Videos let your brand come to life. That’s really what helps build a connection with customers.

This ad from Mr. Porter sequences ads by showing customers videos before asking them to buy anything. There’s no call-to-action here—the point of the ad is simply to introduce people to the brand. The video isn’t even about the clothes it’s selling.


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Yes, they’re featured in the shots, but the core value of the video, as the text says, is about venturing to Rome and exploring. It gets people interested in Mr. Porter by communicating the brand’s interests and aesthetics, but doesn’t ask people to buy just yet.

This second ad, however, is for further down the sales funnel. Now that people are emotionally engaged in Mr. Porter by seeing the video, they are more willing to actually click on the very clear call-to-action: the “shop now” button in the corner.

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Why Videos Engage

Videos are an easy way to get emotional engagement—especially on Facebook. This is clear just from the amount of engagement we see with Facebook video ads. Socialbaking found that Facebook videos get a lot more interactions than the same content on YouTube. It’s the social network, after all. People sign on intending to engage—even with marketing content.

3. Even simple videos capture attention

Psychologists say that the average human sustained attention span is 20 minutes. But for online videos, it seems to be about 60 seconds. The introduction of autoplay means that people will have a longer attention span for your ad—no matter what the quality is.

When auto-play videos started rolling out, it was only available to big-name movies, who already had the video content to make a Facebook ad. Shots from Mad Max and Divergent popped up on screens. It was high-quality, blockbuster stuff. But the tool isn’t limited to Hollywood production houses.

One misconception is that video quality is a huge barrier to producing Facebook video ads. This should not deter you. Rather, understanding what kind of content is on Facebook should encourage you to create your own. Most content is curated by people posting terrible home videos.

If your ad is on someone’s newsfeed, it’s competing with their high school acquaintances’ flood of status updates and their sister-in-law’s bad vacation photos. Your ad is sure to stand out—even if it’s not Hollywood quality.

Remix Content

When making a Facebook video, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Odds are, you already have a bunch of promotional materials floating around. You can certainly recycle content you’ve used before and make it into a Facebook video. One way to do that is to use images and rotate them, like in a slideshow.

This ad for David Jones does exactly that. As a fashion company, they had a lot of still images to work with. Rather than making an entirely new campaign for Facebook video, they took their existing images and made a slideshow of them.

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It can be really simple and still get results.

Recycled content can be pretty short, too. The average length of a Facebook video ad is 44 seconds, but for completed videos, it’s only 21. And if you need more assistance on how to turn your content into a video, take a look at online tools. Wistia shows how anyone can make a good video, even if you don’t have access to professional equipment, or use Shakr.

Mute the Volume

The autoplay feature means that video will automatically load—but the sound won’t. Unless someone clicks on your video, it’ll be totally silent. It’s great to have sound in your video. If someone clicks on it, they’ll expect to hear music or voices to fill it out. But it needs to work without sound—just in case.

Let’s say you already have a tutorial video up on your website. If it relies heavily on a voiceover, or a talking head, you’re going to end up with an unintended silent film—and a lot of confused customers.

If you’re recycling this kind of content, try using subtitles to communicate whatever you’re trying to get across.

Pick a Good Thumbnail

If customers have autoplay turned off, or the video simply isn’t loading, the thumbnail might be all they see of your video. If that still image that loads is blurry or isn’t representative of the ad as a whole, people won’t be interested in clicking. Even the thumbnail should communicate the business value.

This ad from the AdEspresso gallery shows what you’re getting when you press play.

It’s a video from Skillshare, it shows the product (the repeat pattern drawing), and also explicitly tells people that in 60 seconds—the length of the video—they’ll know how to make it themselves. They know right up front what they’ll get out of watching the video.

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The accompanying text tells people that it’ll only take a short amount of time: they can learn to make a repeat pattern in 60 seconds. It also uses a good still image—which is important in case people have auto-play turned off, using eye contact to make a human connection, which is incredibly important in ads.

Video’s Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Facebook trends are always changing—it can be hard for advertisers to keep up. But it’s clear that video is here to stay. In fact, the next trend will be to take video to the next level.

Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s vice president of global marketing solutions, says Facebook has become “synonymous with mobile.” She says, “I think that the next frontier is becoming synonymous with mobile video.” Of the 8 billion video views per day on Facebook, 65% are on mobile. Mobile video is on the rise—which means that making video is even more important than ever.

Facebook is always changing how it interfaces with users and marketers. But video ads aren’t going anywhere. If anything, they’re becoming more and more important to Facebook—and Facebook users. Get the most out of your advertising budget—and get a headstart on the mobile video trend—by making your first video today.