If you’ve been scrolling down your Facebook/Instagram homepage over the past couple of months, you’ve probably noticed the recent surge of video content taking over your apps.
Many lead generation marketers think video ads are expensive investments that only work for brand awareness, but what if I told you that we’ve rolled them out on Facebook and Instagram for most of our direct response campaigns and they actually convert?
New ‘watch and browse’ format
The recent rollout of square ‘watch and browse’ videos on Facebook (coming soon to Instagram) has significantly reduced friction in the conversion funnel and allowed us to cut our cost per lead to a similar level to that of other Facebook ad formats.
When we first tested the video format on Facebook about a year ago, we had trouble getting people to land on our pages. While video ads had a remarkably higher engagement rate than traditional link (picture) & carousel ads (the ones you can flick through), the initial format was such that clicks on the video would result in pausing/playing the ad rather than clicking the call-to-action (CTA) button that was the only access point to landing pages.
This issue has now partly been resolved with ‘square’ video ads, whereby clicking the video enlarges it while displaying a landing page preview at the bottom of your mobile screen. This development, together with a coordinated investment into video production from our paid social teams, allowed us to raise our share of video ads from under 10% of Facebook spend to almost 60% in just two months, while simultaneously improving profitability.
Delivery and performance
So how do Facebook video ads compare to other ad formats? Well, at MVF we experienced an average of CTR (click through rate) uplift of 50% compared to link and carousel ads across mobile devices, with the largest improvements recorded in B2B. You can now also create remarketing audiences based on how long people have watched your videos for (e.g. over 10 seconds), allowing you to further increase conversion rates by retargeting those highly engaged consumers.
In terms of volume, we tend to see quicker and sustained delivery for video ads, though it is hard to tell whether this is due to higher CTRs impacting the auction or the Facebook auction simply favouring video placements over other ad formats (the latter couldn’t be confirmed by Facebook).
After running various formats to the same audiences, we also noticed that video placements tend to fatigue much slower than other ad formats (some video placements will run profitably for over a month and spend over £10,000), allowing you to refresh creatives less often & shift some working time to campaign optimisation.
As for most Facebook ad formats, short and snappy ad copy with a clear call to action has outperformed longer and more detailed offers in most of our A/B tests. Also, unlike link & carousel ads, cost per conversion tends to be much lower on mobile (most likely due to the new ‘watch and browse’ format not being available on desktop), with the highest performance achieved by square videos which occupy more real estate.
When it comes to style, we found that cinemagraphs (still images with one moving element), GIF-style videos and other short formats of under 10 seconds tend to outperform longer videos with text and sound for direct response ads. It has also been calculated that mobile consumers spend under one second checking ads on their feed, hence the importance of eye-catching visuals and concise ad copy.
Where to now?
Facebook’s real estate is changing fast with other new formats such as lead ads and canvas ads offering great value for direct response. It was also recently announced that ‘watch and browse’ videos will soon be available on Instagram, making way for exciting possibilities, as well as video joint placements as both channels share the same targeting options. Hopefully this will be easy to scale and you too can make the most of it.