What Is Video Advertising?
Video advertising is promoting and selling a product or service using videos. Unlike still images or text, videos bring ideas, stories, and products to life. That’s what makes them so engaging.
Video ads simplify concepts, grab attention, and persuade people to act. They combine visuals, audio, and motion. When done right, they deliver your message in a way that sticks.
You can run video ads on platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo. Like this one before a Refinery29 video:
Or on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, etc:
Or on websites:
As you can see, video ads come in many shapes and sizes. They can take a lot of planning to produce, but they’re worth it for the returns.
Tip: Too many ad campaigns to manage? Use Semrush’s PPC Advertising Toolkit to plan, manage, and optimize your digital advertising campaigns with ease.
Understanding Video Advertising in Digital Marketing
Video advertising is a crucial part of digital marketing. Short, informative videos promoting products can play before, during, or after the main video a user is watching.
They can also appear on a company’s website and social media feeds or in programmatic advertising.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated video advertising’s use. Nielsen reported online media consumption in the United States increased 215% in the first month of lockdown.
That trend continues, as users now watch 17 hours of online video content per week according to Wyzowl.
Sales and marketing professionals also discovered the power of this format: 47% of them created more than 51 videos last year, according to Vidyard.
So what makes video advertising such a powerful tool? Let’s find out.
4 Key Benefits of Digital Video Advertising
Our recent State of Content Marketing report revealed video content outperforms all other formats by a wide margin. Specifically, 70% more organic traffic went to articles with at least one video in them.
Let’s look at what makes video advertising powerful and the go-to choice for marketers:
1. Highly Engaging
Capturing your audience’s attention is key in the noisy world of digital marketing.
And video ads do it better than any other online ad.
No wonder 92% of marketers say video gives them a good return on their investment.
They’re engaging because they don’t just tell—they show. And they do it in a way that sticks.
Done right, this instant engagement sets them apart, making people more likely to remember and engage with your content.
Take a look at this engaging ad by Notion:
The ad opens with a hook: “So this just happened.” Like a movie plot twist, it grabs your attention.
The ad then shows how Notion helps with pregnancy planning, paternity leave, and organization, proving its real-life relevance.
In just 15 seconds, it delivers the core message effectively without unnecessary filler.
2. Higher Conversion Rates
This year, 89% of people said watching a video convinced them to buy a product or service.
Image Source: Wyzowl
That’s what you call a conversion powerhouse.
Let’s say you want a new smartphone and land on a product page with a list of features. It’s informative, but it doesn’t excite you. Now picture the same page with a video demonstrating the features.
Suddenly that “Buy Now” button becomes irresistible.
Video marketing makes your audience feel like they’re already benefiting from your product or service. By showing them a new product to try or a tropical destination to visit, you’re whetting their appetite to see it for themselves. That makes it easier to persuade them to act and increase conversion rates.
United Airlines’ success story is proof.
They made a 15-second short video showing beautiful holiday spots. The ad ended with a call to action directing users to its website.
After watching the video, 17,000 people booked flights. And here’s the kicker: 52% of the people who decided to book their flights did it by clicking right from the ad on YouTube.
3. Emotional Connection
Imagine this: you watch a video, and it leaves you with a warm feeling, a smile on your face, or maybe even a tear in your eye.
That’s the magic of storytelling in video advertising. It’s not just about watching. It’s about feeling.
Advertising with video has the unique power to connect with your audience on a deep, emotional level. It’s like a bond between you and the brand that lasts long after the video ends.
Why does it matter?
Emotional connections lead to brand loyalty. When your audience feels a genuine bond with your brand, they’re more likely to choose you over the competition. They may even champion your brand.
4. Easily Shareable
Videos are the most shareable type of content, with 51% of people more likely to share videos with their friends.
Image Source: Wyzowl
That matters a lot in today’s digital world.
Because when people share your video, it reaches far beyond your initial audience with no additional effort from you.
Sharing boosts your brand’s visibility, drives more traffic, and expands your reach in ways other forms of content can’t match.
Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” video ad campaign is a classic example of a viral video:
This ad connects with viewers emotionally. It makes people think about how they see themselves and how society sees beauty.
Because of the emotional impact and relatability of the ad, it became the most shared video ad in over a year, with over four million shares across platforms when the company posted it in 2013.
What Are the Types of Video Ads?
The video ad format you choose depends on what you want to achieve, who you want to reach, and the story you want to tell.
The right ad format can make all the difference––it ensures your message hits the mark with your target audience. And that you get strong results.
Let’s look at the key video ad types to help you choose what works best for your needs.
In-stream ads play while watching a video. They show up before (pre-roll), during (mid-roll), or after (post-roll) videos.
This ad type is available on YouTube, Facebook, and Google video partner apps. Depending on the platform, in-stream ads can be five to 30 seconds long with the option to be skippable or non-skippable.
Here’s an example of a skippable pre-roll in-stream ad that appeared before a YouTube video. Viewers can click “skip ad” after about five seconds of runtime if they don’t want to watch it.
For unskippable ads, viewers see the “Your video will begin in…” countdown.
You can add interactive features like call-to-action buttons, site links, and product feeds to your in-stream ads to get people to take a specific action and engage with your brand beyond just watching the video.
Outstream ads appear outside of the video-watching experience. They appear within articles, blog posts, or other content assets.
These ads appear as banner ads or start playing when the viewer scrolls down to them on a webpage. They usually begin without sound, but viewers can turn the sound on with a click.
People can often pause or close outstream ads if they wish to continue reading the main content undistracted.
Here’s an example of an outstream ad for Emirates on CNN’s website:
Like in-stream ads, outstream ads include interactive elements like clickable call-to-action buttons or links. These elements encourage viewers to take immediate action, such as visiting a website or making a purchase.
Bumper ads are up to six seconds long and the viewer cannot skip them. They play before, during, or after videos on streaming services or sites like YouTube.
Their short, unskippable format keeps viewers engaged from start to finish.
Bumper ads reinforce brand messages or introduce short, focused promotions in a campaign.
Here’s an example by Krispy Kreme:
Viewers get a quick and tempting glimpse of the original glazed donuts. The ad wastes no time and immediately shows what makes Krispy Kreme special––its delicious, freshly made donuts.
Using a bumper ad format doesn’t overwhelm viewers with information or a lengthy storyline. Instead it creates a craving for Krispy Kreme’s signature donuts.
Native ads blend into the content surrounding them, making them look like a natural part of the platform hosting them.
They look and feel like they belong there. This makes the user experience smoother and more enjoyable.
Here’s an example of a native video ad on Facebook. Notice how well it blends into the Facebook feed––it looks like any other post. The only element that sets it apart is the “sponsored” tag.
Similarly, here’s a native display ad on USA Today that merges with the style of the news website.
Native ads have a unique advantage: They don’t resemble traditional ads. This key feature sets them apart and makes them highly effective.
When people come across native ads, they don’t feel like sales pitches are bombarding them. Instead, they see content that aligns with their interests and the platform’s context. This non-disruptive approach improves user engagement and trust.
How to Create Effective Online Video Ads
Video advertising is a powerful tool. But if your videos don’t engage and persuade people, it wastes money.
That’s where a well-thought-out online video advertising strategy and creative execution come in.
Let’s look at seven best practices for creating video ads that work:
1. Capture Attention in the First 3 Seconds
The first three seconds are make or break. Facebook found 65% of people who watch the first three seconds of a video will watch for at least 10 seconds and 45% continue watching for 30 seconds.
Why do those three seconds matter so much?
Attention spans are shrinking. Content, advertisements, and distractions bombard people. So, you only have three seconds to grab the viewer’s attention and keep them from scrolling or clicking the “skip ad” button.
So start your video with a bang––something that instantly piques your audience’s interest, offers a sneak peek of what’s to come, or presents a problem they want to solve.
Look at this video ad by Shopify:
The ad begins with a direct and engaging question, “Ready for the best-converting checkout on the web?”
Shopify designed this question to grab attention because it talks about making the online shopping process better. It’s something many online businesses struggle with––getting more people to complete their purchases.
Plus the question doesn’t give away all the answers. It just hints at what’s next. That makes the viewer curious and eager to find out more. It’s like a teaser that keeps you watching to see what they offer.
Another tactic is to convey the video’s unique value proposition or key message quickly and clearly.
People need to know immediately why your video is worth their time. When they understand what they’ll gain from watching, they’re more likely to stay engaged throughout the video.
Here’s an example of a ClickUp ad that does this well:
The ad begins with a relatable problem. It immediately grabs attention because it taps into a common pain point: project management can be a hectic and stressful process.
The ad’s opening line, “Managing your projects shouldn’t feel like this,” clearly conveys the central message and pain point the product aims to solve. It’s concise and to the point, making it easy for viewers to understand the ad’s purpose.
You can use Semrush’s Topic Research tool to get topic ideas and see the questions people ask related to your business. That’s a smart way to brainstorm creative concepts for your video ad.
Type a term into the search bar. For this example, we’ll use “internal communication tools.”
You’ll get ideas and keyword volume statistics to help you determine the best video content.
Toggle the flame icon on to see trending subtopics first.
You can also display content in different ways. The above images utilize the “card” view.
The “Explorer” tab shows subtopics and engagement data.
The “Overview” tab shows backlinked headlines and questions your videos can answer.
Finally, the “Mind Map” view offers data visualization.
Use all these resources to find the best video topics to promote your brand.
2. Mention Your Brand Early
Mentioning your brand right away ensures viewers immediately recognize where the ad comes from.
To do this, show your brand’s logo or name or have the narrator mention the brand name within the first few seconds of the ad beginning.
This simple addition goes a long way to build trust and credibility, setting a positive tone for the rest of the video.
Plus a psychological concept known as the primacy effect influences human memory.
That means people tend to remember what they encounter first. When you mention your brand at the start of a video, they’re more likely to remember it because it was the first thing they saw and heard.
Here’s an example of a video ad by Pipedrive:
Pipedrive starts the video with its brand logo and a voiceover that says “Pipedrive.” No lengthy introductions or complex visuals––the ad is simple and to the point.
In 10 seconds, it clearly conveys its brand name and key message. That helps people connect the message with the brand, ensuring they remember it.
3. Choose the Right Video Ad Format
Every video ad format has its purpose.
Ask yourself: What do you want your video to achieve? Do you want to increase brand awareness, collect leads, drive traffic to your website, promote a product, or educate your audience?
Choose the video ad format that matches your marketing campaign goal.
Let’s say you have a short, catchy message you want viewers to remember quickly, like a flash sale announcement.
Here, a bumper ad, which is usually just a few seconds long, can be a great choice. It delivers your message in a short, memorable burst before the main video content.
Take Samsung’s bumper ad, for instance. Samsung wanted to convey the idea of a limited-time pre-booking offer. A bumper ad gets this message across swiftly.
On the other hand, if you have a longer story to tell, like promoting the features of a new product, a 15-second in-stream pre-roll ad might be more suitable. It gives you more time to engage the audience and provide information.
Now let’s visit another Samsung ad. This time, with a different goal–promoting their latest smartphone.
It created a 35-second ad, putting the phone and its features into the spotlight. But Samsung didn’t just stop at listing specs or benefits. It took us on a journey, showing precisely how these features can enhance our everyday lives.
See how the same brand used two different ad formats to match its unique messages.
4. Optimize for Mobile
With mobile searches accounting for more than half of market share, it’s safe to say a significant number of people watch videos on their smartphones.
It’s clear: Your video ads need to work well on mobile devices to be effective.
Image Source: Statcounter
Videos optimized for mobile devices offer a smoother and more enjoyable user experience.
They must load quickly and fit on smaller screens to reduce the chance viewers get frustrated and click away from your video.
Mobile optimization isn’t just a technical detail. It’s all about ensuring your audience can watch your video comfortably without hiccups.
Here are some tips for creating effective mobile video ads:
- Responsive platforms: Choose platforms that support responsive design. That means your video will adjust automatically to fit various screen sizes, from smartphones to tablets.
- Mobile-first editing: Use legible fonts, concise text, and clear visuals viewers can see easily on mobile screens
- Keep it short: Mobile viewers often have shorter attention spans, so keep your video concise. Get your message across within the first few seconds to capture their interest.
- Optimize load times: Compress your videos to reduce file size, ensuring faster loading times. Slow-loading videos can lead to user frustration and high bounce rates.
- Captions: Many viewers watch videos on mute or in noisy environments. Including subtitles or captions ensures they can still follow along and understand your message.
5. Add Captions or Subtitles
Adding captions or subtitles to your video ads is a smart way to make your video ads engaging and accessible. This way everyone, including those who might have trouble hearing, can understand what’s happening on screen.
Plus many people watch videos without sound, especially on mobile devices in public places. Captions allow them to understand your message even in noise-sensitive environments.
Adding subtitles also breaks down language barriers, making it easier for everyone to get your message, no matter where they’re from.
Here’s a good example by Preply:
In the ad, as the voiceover tells the story, you’ll notice text pop up on the screen simultaneously. Combining visuals and sound helps people understand and remember the message better.
Preply used text cleverly to make important points stand out and guide your focus to key details.
6. Use Pattern Interrupt Elements
Pattern interrupt elements are unexpected, attention-grabbing moments placed within a video. They could be sudden changes in visuals, a surprising sound, or a quick shift in the storyline.
The goal is to snap viewers out of their usual scrolling patterns and make them pay attention.
Here’s why it matters:
People scroll through countless posts, videos, and ads every day. To grab their attention and keep them engaged, you must disrupt their usual patterns of scrolling and swiping––pattern interrupt elements do just that.
Look at this video ad by Slack:
This ad commands attention.
Slack designed it with vibrant colors, text, and patterns to grab your attention. These elements work together to make it visually appealing and stand out.
But it’s not just about looking good.
The text you see in the ad tells a story. It explains important points, ensuring you understand what’s happening, even if you watch it without sound.
To add pattern interruption elements, identify key moments in your video where you can introduce something unexpected.
For example, at the five-second mark when a viewer is about to click away, add an attention-grabbing line summarizing your value proposition.
It could be a quick scene or a surprising twist in the narrative. The key is to keep it relevant to your message and target audience.
7. End with a Strong CTA
Ending your video ad with a strong call to action (CTA) guides your viewers to take the next step in their journey.
Why does that matter?
Your video has engaged, informed, or entertained your audience. Now it’s time to nudge them to act.
Whether you want potential customers to visit your website, sign up for a newsletter, or make a purchase, a clear CTA tells them what to do next.
Here’s a good example by Wise:
This six-second bumper ad tells viewers exactly what action they should take—open a Wise account.
It doesn’t stop there. The ad also tells people how to open a Wise account. It provides links to the App Store and Play Store.
Here’s how to include a clear and prominent CTA in your video ad:
- Be straightforward: Use phrases like “Shop Now,” “Learn More,” or “Subscribe Today” to tell viewers what you want them to do.
- Placement: Position your CTA where it’s easily visible and accessible. Many place it at the end of the video, but you can also include it throughout if it makes sense.
- Create a sense of urgency: Encourage action—add a time limit or limited availability to your CTA. Phrases like “Limited Time Offer” can motivate viewers to act sooner.
- Use visual cues: Reinforce your CTA with visual elements like arrows or buttons that draw attention to it.
Turn Viewers into Customers with Digital Video Advertising
Video advertising is a leap that can lead to big returns––provided you do it right.
But remember: success doesn’t come from having a big budget or fancy video production.
It’s about strategy, creativity, and understanding your target audience. So whether you’re sharing heartfelt stories or showcasing your product, make every second count.
Use Semrush’s Topic Research tool to get started.