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Video Marketing

The Anatomy of a Successful Social Video Ad [New Research]

By Olga Bedrina

The Anatomy of a Successful Social Video Ad [New Research] Blog Feature

Social advertising has come a long way since it was first introduced.

Gone are the days when static banner ads and search ads were the only ways to reach your audience in a digital world.

Today, for a brand to be successful with social advertising (or marketing in general), video has to be a part of a broader strategy.

Video advertising is a core growth tactic for the major social networks because it is engaging and easy to monetize. In fact, in 2017, social video advertising spending leaped 130%.

According to our latest research at on the state of social video ads, businesses are using video in advertising to drive traffic to their website, promote new content, and boost website conversions. 


However, with more brands taking advantage of social video advertising, we are approaching saturation. Creating an engaging social video ad that will actually convert is an increasing challenge.

What makes a social video ad successful?

In this article, we will break down the key elements that will help you create a converting video ad for social, based on our latest research.

How Social Trends Shape Video Ads

Video ads posted on social should not exist in vacuum. They should take into account great social media behaviors in order to see the greatest success.

Here are some of the trends we’re seeing that should shape your video ads on social media:

1. Storytelling

People love stories. They work well because they are one of the most effective ways of conveying relatable emotions.  

When it comes to stories, we, as human beings, are “susceptible to getting ‘swept up’ in both their message and in the manner of their telling,” which makes them highly effective ways of communicating. 

Whenever you hear a TED speaker begin their talk with the words “Imagine you were…”, your mind starts constructing an image in your head.

Advertisers recognize this trend.

According to our research, 71% of respondents said that storytelling is the most popular type of video ads for their business. This far exceeds other popular video types such as explainer videos or how-to’s.


2. More About the Viewer than the Brand.

While it’s only understandable that you want to tell about your brand early on, your viewers might not think so. The research revealed that 63% of respondents find it best to show their brand after the first 3 seconds of the video ad.

It’s content marketing 101. When the focus of your video is you and not anything of value to your audience, they are more likely to tune out your message or worse, stop watching.

You want your content to be perceived as helpful as possible. Leading with the value to the viewer, not your sales pitch, is the most effective way to do this in a video ad.

3. Humanizing the Brand

Gone are the times when people were ok with stock images and footage.

Now, brands are being personal and more human in the way they communicate with clients and the benefits are clear.

67% of the most successful video ads show people. Seeing individuals like ourselves in ads again helps them resonate. It helps viewers picture themselves in shoes of those people, using your product or experiencing the results/perks of doing so. 


4. Getting Emotional.

Social media is not about sales. It’s about bringing people together, connecting them on an emotional level and helping them stay in touch.

Social media ads are different from traditional advertising media like TV or radio ads. It’s too easy to scroll past an ad when it sticks out like a sore thumb in a feed full of family and friends.  

If you analyze the most successful video ads collected by HubSpot, the majority of them strike emotion and make you go “awww” or “oh wow” immediately.

Take this example from Android:

Capitalizing on the popularity of “cute animal” videos on social media, Android creates an irresistible ad that keeps you watching until the end.

5. Keeping it Short

Have you seen the movie “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy?” If you haven’t, I’m not surprised.

I tried watching it twice: first, when I was on the plane flying over the Atlantic, and the second time, just the other day. Both times, I fell asleep during the first 15 minutes.

It’s not because the movie is bad; quite the opposite actually, but the beginning doesn’t cut straight to the point.

Instead, it takes a while to unfold, gradually telling the story. Probably not the best choice for a jet-lagged person like myself.

When it comes to social video ads, the situation is even worse. According to Facebook Business, people lose interest very fast when it comes to in-feed ads: 



And our research confirmed this.

83% of the most successful video ads are shorter than 1 minute and the best performing ones are only 15 to 30 seconds long.

In this sense, video ads reinforce the global trend “the shorter the better.”


6. Be Mindful of Your Call-to-Action

48% of brands use video ads on social to drive traffic to their website and yet, only 53% of viewers proceed to the company’s website and learn more about the brand after having watched an ad.


This might mean two things.

First, it could mean the audience doesn’t want to leave the social platform of choice and businesses might want to find a way to engage with customers without doing so.

For instance, with Instagram, you might lead the viewers to your company’s profile where they can learn more about the brand or on Facebook, it might be a good idea to promote your page or community.

On the other hand, it might mean the call-to-action just isn’t the right one, and viewers simply don’t understand what they are supposed to do after watching an ad.

Check out these findings on some of the most common CTA language:


The point is, be mindful of your call-to-action. Make sure that it makes sense for the platform and the point in the buyer’s journey that viewers encounter it, and also make sure that it is clear and easy to understand.

7. Unconventional Formats

Nowadays, the majority of social networks get their visits from mobile devices, which means it’s more important than ever to deliver your social video ad in the format that will best serve your audience’s viewing behavior.

On Facebook and Snapchat, it definitely means going vertical. According to Facebook, almost 80% of video consumers find vertical video more engaging and are more likely to watch a vertical video than a landscape one.

Even Google just recently announced that vertical video ads now available for advertising campaigns on YouTube. Vertical videos occupy more real estate than any other format, hence looking more prominent on mobile.

The saying is on the wall: social platforms want to create the best experience for their users, video ads included. For us as social video ad creators, it makes sense to experiment with different advertising formats, including square and vertical.

So, What Makes a Video Ad Successful? The Key Takeaways for Businesses

With ever-changing social trends and saturated environment, it seems more difficult than ever for a business to create compelling social video ads. How can your company thrive and get results with social advertising?

Don’t Sell a Product. Sell a Solution.

Once I heard someone say that when people go to Home Depot to get a drill, they are not actually looking forward to buying the tool. What they need is a hole in the wall.

With the video ads that you post on social, the idea is to provide value to your customers in the first place. (This is an example that we used in a retargeting ad in the past.)

Here are just a few ideas on how you can make sure the video ad addresses customers’ needs:

  1. Provide a solution to a common pain point
  2. Entertain the viewer
  3. Evoke emotions and educate your audience. Share curious facts, industry trends and stats, or useful tips related to your product or service.


Video Marketing
Marketing Statistics
Published on October 5, 2018

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