Video ads have flexed their muscles beyond branding by driving sales for online advertisers across industries. Social video spend is set to double again this year to more than $4bn. With scale comes the need for speed. As new technologies enable lighter productions, the creative industry has to step up to rethink the overall creative process.
Most agencies and companies today understand the basics of creating online video content: keep it short, grab the user’s attention during the first seconds, create for audio-off watching, and adapt the content to fit consumption patterns such as vertical viewing on mobile devices. That being said, productions are still somewhat complex as they follow TVC best practices. Scripting, filming, animating and post-production take time, resources and money. Matching the growing demand for video content is a challenge for advertisers of all sizes. Brands and agencies could scale their video efforts a lot more efficiently if they championed novel video ad formats and automated means for producing content.
Scaling video advertising is more of an attitude shift. It’s about expanding the very notion of video from filmed or animated content to span any creative with moving elements. There are various formats and technologies that slash the barriers to entry into video advertising:
GIFs – the acronym may allude to internet memes and 90s display ads, yet these short looped videos lend themselves well to thumb-stopping creatives, particularly on social platforms. Facebook for one supports ads in this format.
Cinemagraphs – technically speaking, these go under the GIF umbrella as cinemagraphs are still photographs with partial animation. The movement is stylishly discreet, making it affordable and fast to produce with self-serve tools such as Flixel.
Slideshows easily combine existing images and videos into one creative. While they originally presented an alternative to video for markets with low connectivity, slideshows have proven to be a popular format across the board. What makes them even more lucrative is the mass personalization aspect – platforms such as Facebook allow you to select and sequence the images based on user behavior and interests.
Automated content creation is one of the most fascinating areas of innovation in advertising, particularly for brands that run campaigns for a large volume of products or offers. New technologies can automatically pull content from an e-commerce product feed to create compact, lightly animated product videos with thousands of variations that can be targeted and retargeted based on user behavior. Mastering product feeds helps advertisers scale video production. Pre-designed video templates make it easy to preserve creative integrity as well as brand look-feel across a large number of individual ads. With automated templates, advertisers can constantly test new visuals and refresh campaigns to move the needle.
Automation will also create new efficiencies for agencies. When you cut down the manual work previously required to produce all the product variations, you’ll free up time for the work that drives brands forward: creative strategy and big-picture thinking.
Mastering video advertising in 2017 boils down to a combination of harnessing creative automation and light video formats to run beautiful video ads that are both on-brand and personalized, based on user interests, platform and device. This is not to say that there isn’t a time or place for extensive video productions or long-form content – agencies, creators and brands merely have to broaden their video approach to ensure they don’t miss opportunities to connect with audiences.
Smartly.io is a SaaS company that automates Facebook and Instagram advertising at scale for leading global advertisers. The Smartly platform handles close to a billion dollars in ad spend annually, helping brands create, launch, and optimize campaigns with first-to-market solutions and features. Founded in 2013, Smartly.io is a fast-growing community of 150 Smartlies in Helsinki, Berlin, Buenos Aires, New York, San Francisco, and Singapore.
Tuomo Riekki, CTO & co-founder, Smartly.io.