Do it right
As video has risen to become the dominant player on Facebook, so have the options available to marketers. You now have a variety of ad vehicles to choose from along with a host of items to consider each time you make a video campaign. These options change daily.
Creating a campaign is child’s play once you understand three things, however: audience, objective, and the channels available.
This chapter focuses on the last of those three fundamentals – the channels (AKA vehicles) within Facebook.
By the end of this chapter, you’ll know where to place your video ads and the features your videos must have.
We’re going to start with a review of all the ad vehicles currently on offer. We’ll weigh up the pros and cons of each, and help you decide which vehicles are best for your campaign.
Then we’ll consider the strategic advantages of both dark and visible posts, and how it’s often to your advantage to use both.
Lastly we’ll dive into dynamic creative and take a look at how this inbuilt tool dramatically enhances campaign creation for novices and pros alike.
Facebook ad vehicles
When it comes to ad vehicles, the offering is broad and continues to grow. However, not everyone will suit your objectives or your budget.
News Feed: Tried, tested and reliable
The vehicle you probably know the most about is News Feed.
By embedding your campaign into a News Feed, your content, sans sound, will play automatically.
Since launching the automatic play function on video content, Facebook now rakes in 8 billion views a day for video alone.
Remember what News Feeds are primarily for, though. News.
When you’re scrolling down your News Feed, the last thing you want to see is a bunch of ads that aren’t relevant to you. That’s why social proof can be a great way of using the News Feed.
Why? Because case studies and testimonials fit neatly in the user’s feed. With a News Feed video ad you can utilize the power of story to make the post as personal and intimate as possible.
For example, sharing a story about how you make your product is a better way of positioning a video ad on a News Feed. This way, the viewer will instinctively feel like it’s just another one of their friends sharing a video.
The News Feed placement works for every part of the funnel and is one of Facebook’s most versatile placements (when done the right way).
As we mentioned, telling engaging stories is a great way to utilize the News Feed placement for awareness campaigns. Many users scrolling through the News Feed are looking for inspirational or emotional videos, so showcasing your brand’s ‘why’ is a priority here.
For consideration campaigns, informative videos relating to your company or the niche you specialize in would be great performers. Many advertisers create listicle videos from their popular blog posts since they already know the content strikes a chord with their followers.
Lastly, News Feed campaigns are great for remarketing and conversion campaigns. Typically this is focused on users who have engaged with your videos or have been to your website before. When they have shown interest in your brand and you run remarketing ads to them focusing on testimonials, social proof, or sales, you’re sure to get their attention.
You can use case studies, statistics, and more to show why your brand is the best, thus driving them further toward purchase.
In-stream video ads: The domain of bigger brands
You may have heard of the newest addition to the platform, Facebook in-stream ads.
How do these ads work? Well, they run similar to YouTube, a form of programmatic video advertising. However, they’re mid-roll ads rather than set at the beginning.
Because the mid-roll in-stream ad will play after 60 seconds or longer, your audience is effectively in a ‘lean back’ viewing mode and therefore less likely to switch off or skip.
In-stream only runs in the middle of videos from big publishing partners – those people who create long enough content and have a large enough audience to support this kind of advertising. Any brand can run an in-stream ad, but the types of videos you’ll place your mid-roll on will be those partners that place content daily. Think Vice, Buzzfeed, and Mashable.
It’s a very specific audience that watches these types of daily video, so in order to get your video ad seen, viewers will need to engage with the content in a specific way.
Your in-stream audience needs to use Facebook without an ad blocker. They will also be engaging with Facebook in a different way, seeing it as a video platform rather than a social networking tool. Once you surf videos on Facebook in this way, you’re more likely to come across an in-stream ad.
A Facebook in-stream ad can only be between 5-15 seconds, but this is really all you need to captivate an audience.
When deciding whether to use in-stream ads for your campaign, ask yourself: do your viewers immerse themselves in video on Facebook? If the campaign is run alongside the right partners, in-stream ads are one of the best ways to build huge awareness because they’re like commercials.
This ad unit is built for brand awareness and is ideal for large companies like movie studios wanting to grab the attention of potential customers. It’s tantamount to shaking a stick at someone – it disrupts the viewer’s experience of engaging with the content they want to watch.
With in-stream, you can also create skippable and non-skippable content, and video marketing stats have shown that non-skippable ads increase conversions.
From 2018, if you have over 2,000 fans or more, you’re also able to get Facebook in-stream as part of Facebook Live.
Is it right for you? If you’re a small company wanting to get your customers to convert, it probably isn’t the best method. In fact, you run the risk of negative ROI if you invest in a channel that doesn’t suit your audience.
But if you’re focused on a global campaign and want to get the word out quickly, in-stream is perfect.
Set your goals, strategy, and tactics first
To get the most out of your video marketing activities, you must first structure your work.
First set a meaningful goal for your business. One that can be measured. An increase of 20% in sales or growing an email list to 10k subscribers in 12 months, for example.
Then make a strategy that by following will facilitate hitting the goal. Your strategy is a set of guidelines to follow. A strategy could be to earn trust and attention. It sounds simple, but imagine getting the trust and attention of those who mattered most to you – how do you think that would impact achieving your goal?
Only now do you look at tactics. Which placements to use and how often to post: the small steps you take that follow your strategy and achieve your goal. Discard the tactics that don’t work and double down on the ones that do.
Facebook Stories: The first-person frontier
Facebook Stories is basically the twin sister to Instagram Stories and Snapchat, which makes for a very different experience when it comes to creating a video ad with this channel.
For starters, this format is vertical, so you don’t want to be running 16:9 ads. The aspect ratio is 9:16, which means it’s best suited to a selfie-type interaction. Most of the content that viewers expect on this platform are faces and people interacting with their environment.
The beauty of Facebook stories is that they don’t seem like ads. In fact, they look so much like organic content that your typical ads really don’t work here. If your audience even get an inkling you’re selling to them, chances are they’ll skip your story entirely.
A great plus of stories is that they take up prime ‘real estate’ on Facebook. They’re the first thing your viewer will see, so they’re great for grabbing attention.
On the desktop version, the Facebook Stories section stays with the user as they scroll down, meaning you have prime ad placement throughout the user experience, whereas with other ad formats you’d have lost the customer by now.
Think personal, story-led video content around a particular narrative. Build the relationship with your audience. If you found something funny, why not share it? Don’t just laugh to yourself – build that shared experience.
You can even add a progress bar on your stories so the audience knows it’s only part of a full narrative.
Your campaign can also link to Instagram, so if you have a particular focus for your video you can use stories to drive traffic to either platform.
Quite often, companies use Facebook stories as a way to connect authentically with their audience.
There’ll usually be a key spokesperson who is known to their community and they’ll film a story as a self-shot video, making comments relevant to the user’s experience.
It will be very low budget (usually shot with a smartphone) and include a subtle CTA with an animated graphic or a spoken ‘swipe up now’ so viewers can get more.
These perform really well, because although they’re ads, they’re respecting the Stories platform and feel authentic.
Stories are great for consideration campaigns and to direct a viewer to your website. They’re also great for building awareness, but you’ve gotta make those first few seconds count.
With remarketing, you can get creative with stories, but it would involve creating a lot of micro-content. That means a lot of budget and it may not necessarily convert.
So stories aren’t always the best place to ask someone to purchase something. They’re more about friendships rather than brands, so keep that in mind.
However, stories can be a great way to collaborate with other brands and build an intent to purchase.
Whichever campaign you go for with Facebook stories, don’t forget to include the call to action.
You can even mimic the action of ‘swiping up’ so your viewers get an audio and a visual clue of the action to take next.
Instant Experiences: Tricky but powerfully immersive
Launched in 2016, this style of ads are a fairly new addition to the platform: a mobile-specific ad format.
These ads have recently changed their name from ‘Canvas Ads’ to ‘Instant Experiences’.
Early testing showed that 53% of beta viewers watched at least half the ads (some of which are upwards of 70 seconds long).
These are pieces of mobile-optimised content in the Facebook app, so think of them as similar to mini-landing pages for your site or even branded ‘black holes’.
Either way, they’re an immersive, tantalising experience designed to draw the viewer in for much longer than an average video view.
Instant Experiences can also load a whopping 15 times faster than web pages on mobile, so there’s even more opportunity to captivate.
With Instant Experiences, you’re keeping your viewers on a platform they’re already engaged with.
Once viewers click, the ad opens up into a full-screen experience.
The audience is then guided to interact with multiple content forms, clearly marked with various touchpoints.
You can watch engaging videos and photos, swipe through carousels, tilt to pan, and explore lifestyle images with tagged products, all in one single ad.
But don’t be daunted by what seems like a complex undertaking. Facebook has crafted multiple premade templates for you and one of the best options for video is ‘storefront’, which has a header at the top and four boxes below, so you can really showcase the best you have to offer.
In the advertising world, this is the ultimate ‘moreish cookie’ – something that lends itself well to pretty visuals and great aesthetic design.
So for Instant Experiences, create the most beautiful and visually striking video to entice your viewers.
The great thing about these ads is that they’re compatible with Facebook and third-party pixels, which means they’re perfectly suited for remarketing.
There’s also an additional metric dedicated to Instant Experiences, allowing you to track Instant Experience metrics in real time.
For your video campaign, it’s best to use the ‘traffic’ or ‘conversion’ objective depending on what you want to achieve with your Instant Experience ad.
Avoid using ‘video views’ as your objective because Facebook won’t optimize toward people actually going through your Instant Experience.
When crafting your video campaign, you’d usually use these for the consideration part of your funnel when leads are already engaged with you.
Instant Experiences are great for the consideration part of your funnel to build a case for why someone should purchase.
This platform is all about driving intent and attention – you want to make the experience so seductive people don’t want to leave.
Facebook Live: Effective, affordable, and subversive
Facebook live is just that – a real-time, live stream of whatever’s happening when you press that ‘Go Live’ button.
It’s no secret that Facebook Live drives some of the highest engagement on the platform. It’s not an ad format in itself, but it can be used to advertise to customers when used the right way.
Going live with your video content draws viewers in – it generates a lot of time on site, encourages conversations, and builds interaction with your brand.
It’s because of this Facebook likes to give a lot of algorithmic weight to it.
If you’re getting people viewing, liking, commenting, and sharing with your live feed, Facebook will raise you up in the ranks.
When you go live, you need to plan it as you’d plan a normal video campaign (don’t just hit ‘Go live’ and hope for the best).
You need a great idea for Live and a backup plan if things go wrong.
For example, if you want the audience to ask a certain question and they don’t, make sure you answer it anyway as part of your natural conversation.
Again, Facebook live has to feel authentic – so no over-scripting or rehearsal.
One of the best things about going live is that it’s great for building awareness, so if you’ve got a community who you want to get more engagement from, a live broadcast could be the way forward.
Facebook Live is about turning what can sometimes be a faceless brand experience into an intimate group conversation. You have the opportunity to really get to know your customers and find out what makes them tick.
You also have the power to leverage brand loyalty by including your customers in conversations you’d be having within your teams and inviting them to comment on the direction.
However, live means live. Viewers expect off-the-cuff, natural conversation, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
There are different ways to pre-record a Facebook Live show, but if you have a community that’s interacting with you, a pre-recorded video could end up damaging your brand and slowing conversions.
You need to be able to respond: interaction is the key principle when it comes to going live.
If you’re considering Facebook Live for your campaign, you need an engaged audience.
If you haven’t got a strong Facebook following yet, it’s probably best to shelve going live until you know you’ll get healthy viewing figures and you can inform your audience ahead of time when to tune in.
The right ad vehicles for your campaign
To recap, whatever video campaign you’re creating depends on your objective.
If you’re creating a full-funnel campaign – awareness, consideration, and conversion stage – you’d probably use almost all of the methods we’ve discussed with the exception of in-stream (unless you’ve got a big budget).
If you’re just getting started, you’ll want to focus on News Feed, Live, and Stories as cost-effective options.
To choose your ad set, you need to:
Know your objective. What are you trying to achieve with your video content? Determine what success would look like to you and tie it back to measurable KPIs.
Know your audience. Think about how each of your personas use Facebook. What time of day are they likely to be on there? Who do they keep up with? What types of content do they consume?
Know your funnel. Which part of the funnel are you targeting? Has your audience never heard of you and are therefore at the top of your funnel in the awareness stage? Or are they a little more engaged and at the consideration or conversation stage?
- Know the ad sets. Understand the purpose and function of the ad set you’ve chosen. When you’re creating ad sets in Ads Manager, it’s all about creating a personalized experience for the end user. It has to feel like what a customer would expect, kind of like a comfortable old slipper.
It’s also important to keep placement of your ad tight. Why? Well, the more you can choose channels that fit with your audience, the easier it will be to track.
Remember, each channel has a place within the funnel, and when you’re deciding which one to use, think about what feels natural to that channel.
Hidden posts vs. organic posts
Another thing for you to consider is whether to ‘go dark’ or ‘not to go dark’. What’s that all about?
If you haven’t heard, Facebook advertisers now have the ability to promote unpublished (otherwise known as ‘ going dark’) posts in the News Feed of fans.
Dark posts (AKA ads)
A ‘dark’ post or a ‘hidden’ post is a status update, link share, video, or photo that was never meant to be shared as an organic post.
Staying true to its name, it’s not published but only surfaces on the platform as an ad.
These kinds of posts can benefit you as you can create ads that talk to someone differently. You can create different messaging for someone who has already been on your website versus someone who has just watched one of your videos.
Ultimately, you can talk to different audience segments and personas with your hidden posts.
This creates a highly personalised and intimate experience, so it can be to your advantage to use hidden posts to boost your conversions.
We recommend posting your hidden posts at the same time you post your organic content so you can be broad with your messaging yet strategically target subsections of your audience.
There’s another plus point to dark ads.
You can also now see competitors’ ads on Facebook, so ‘dark ads’ are a little less hidden than they used to be, but your competitors can also view the ads you’re creating.
Is this a good thing?
Hopefully you won’t be using ‘black hat’ practices (if you do, the visibility will create a problem), but if you stand by your marketing and conduct things ethically, you may find this works better.
Depending on what sector you’re in, it may mean less of a competitive advantage for some marketers.
However, you can see it as a positive: you can do some competitive research and find out what makes an engaging ad.
Google allows people to see their competitors’ ads and it has allowed companies to learn from one another – to take what they’ve done and make it better, so it can ultimately improve your ads rather than make things worse.
Organic posts (AKA boost)
So how are organic posts different from ‘hidden posts’?
Organic Facebook posts are great to build a community, to interact with your current audience, and to start conversations.
You’re building a relationship with organic posts, but they’re a little less intimate and personalised than a hidden post can be.
They will go out to everyone who liked your page, so they’re not good at talking to a specific subset of people.
A lot of companies use organic posts as the consistent voice of their brand and schedule these in using a scheduler app like Buffer.
This creates a regular feed of content and is popular to program content ahead of time (‘Mindful Mondays’, for example), so the audience knows what to expect on a given day.
It’s important to keep things fresh with your organic content. If you notice your audience isn’t engaging with a particular format like they used to, don’t be afraid to change things up.
In terms of video campaigns, organic posts are a great way to establish your brand’s tone of voice and to see if your content is a good fit for your positioning in the market.
When to post
While there is value in knowing industry-specific findings (such as how Mondays have been the highest earning day of the week for online retailers) there’s really no best time to post a video or run an ad.
It’s most important to understand your objectives and your audience. Use your own data to determine the best-performing days to schedule your ads. Don’t be afraid to make some informed guesses and experiment. Your best time to post isn’t the same as anyone else’s.
Facebook dynamic creative: The automatic ad maker
Dynamic creative is a tool Facebook uses to essentially take the best of what works with your ads and test the heck out of it to see how it performs.
It’s an Ads Manager tool that automatically delivers the best-performing combinations of your creative assets.
It finds these by taking the components of the ad (images, videos, titles, descriptions, CTAs, etc.) and sees what resonates most across your different audiences.
Kind of like a pick ‘n’ mix, but for adverts.
This kind of Facebook ad works best for company types like e-commerce.
For example, if a user is shopping on a website and lands on this product page, then adds it to their cart but never checks out, the user would then see ads for that specific product on Facebook.
You can even upload your e-commerce product list onto Facebook.
Then, if your Facebook pixel is pulling the right e-commerce data from your e-commerce product list, you get to remarket to people with the products they’ve actually viewed or the products they’ve added to their cart.
Since last year, advertisers can now add product videos to their dynamic creative ads that are associated with the products.
This gives advertisers an edge if they showcase the product using video rather than just a static image.
With dynamic product ads it’s also possible to add overlays of price that are adjustable so you won’t have to create all-new creative when you start a sale.
The benefit of a dynamic creative ad on Facebook is that your marketing is more personalized.
It’s ideal for a consideration campaign because to the end user it feels like more of an authentic interaction than just sending ads their way.
This means you’ve got a higher chance they’ll convert using this medium, as everything is customized.
Even if you’re not an e-commerce company you can still utilize dynamic ads to test different variations of your creative and find out which variation works best for your audiences.
With a video campaign you can test different headlines and different titles on dynamic creative, but this requires that your optimisation event is set up properly and your Facebook pixel is set up properly, as we discussed in Chapter 4.
Now Facebook accepts both standard and custom events for dynamic creative optimization so advertisers can use both to optimize toward their dynamic creative.
That means you can set up multiple headlines, images, and News Feed descriptions, and Facebook will automatically optimize the top-performing creative of each aspect to create the best-performing ad, no trial-and-error needed.
In terms of testing and trialling your creative, we recommend using different platforms.
While external tools like AdEspresso are good, Facebook’s algorithm is currently set to optimize dynamic creative.
Try a 7-day run of your creative on both platforms and see which one has a better CPA (cost per acquisition).
Ultimately, the more you can create directly within the Facebook platform the more likely you are to see traction.
Crafting your video content
Creating a winning video campaign is by no means an easy task. There’s a lot of things to keep in mind when you’re in the planning stages.
- Aspect ratio
This is one of the most important considerations and often gets overlooked when creating a video campaign.
For Facebook News Feed content you can try 1:1 or even 4:5 as an aspect ratio, but it’s always best to test and see what performs better.
For Stories, vertical 9:16 content always wins.
The perfect ratio for mobile?
Never use the standard 16:9 ratio (rectangle) for your image or video content. It subconsciously looks like an advertisement to users on Facebook.
Don’t use square either. Your social proof (reactions, views, shares, and comments) will be hidden on mobile unless the user scrolls.
My ratio sweet spot is 6:5. This takes up just enough space to fill the entire fold of a mobile phone (where the majority of your traffic will come from) so that posts in the feed above or below are not visible, yet your social proof is not cut off.
For a video ad, try making the length no longer than 15 seconds.
The only exception to this would be if you’re creating an awareness campaign where it’s important for the user to watch a one or two-minute video. 15-second videos are great because you can use them on Instagram if you change the aspect ratio.
Facebook counts a view at three seconds, so make those first three seconds count.
In fact, they’ve found that up to 47% of a video campaign’s value was delivered in the first three seconds, so deliver your ‘why’ in that brief window.
Use visuals in a clean way: make them bright but not distracting. Align them to your brand and ensure the colours will fit nicely with the rest of your product ads.
With video, it’s best to keep the copy as minimal as possible. Work out the bare minimum your audience needs to know and leave the rest. The only copy people should see is your key points and CTA.
For longer videos, add captions. Try to summarise each point in your video while it’s muted, but don’t annotate every word.
To stay in favour with Facebook’s algorithm, don’t use too much text. 20% or less is ideal.
Remember: the visuals should be the focus on the overall screen – the copy shouldn’t be taking up too much screen real estate.
Facebook supports a number of different video formats, including 3g2, avi, mp4, and mpg. Always check the format you need before you produce your video.
For a full list of all the supported formats, check out Facebook’s exhaustive list.
Facebook will look at the thumbnail of your video to make sure it’s not text-heavy. If it’s too text-heavy you’ll lose engagement.
To appease Facebook you can work around the 20% rule by creating a thumbnail that has no copy at all. Keep it simple, striking, and legible when viewed on a mobile or smaller device.
- Call to action
Where you place your call to action will depend on where the user is in your marketing funnel.
Place it throughout your video for conversion campaign videos, where the intent to purchase is stronger.
It can be placed at the end for the awareness and consideration stages.
There’s no definite rule of thumb, though: test out placements of your CTA and see what performs best.
Your logo is important. Its placement at the beginning or at the end depends on what kind of campaign it is.
If it’s an awareness campaign to let customers know who you are, it would be great for them to see your logo in the first 15 seconds.
Alternatively if you’re further down the funnel (like on a conversion campaign) putting your logo at the end of the video is a good reminder, as you want them to consider your benefits and features before taking that step to purchase.
Don’t forget the captions
Did you know that 85% of Facebook videos are enjoyed without sound? This has a huge knock-on effect on your ads and video content in general.
This makes captions extremely important.
Considering ‘sound off’ viewing should be done for every video campaign on Facebook apart from stories.
Stories have clear guidelines that this type of content should be made with sound on, because most people who are watching stories do so with the sound on.
For every other vehicle, your video is already muted before it starts, so you need to ensure that small text points can sum up the overall narrative.
Then it’s your audience’s choice as to whether they unmute it and watch your video or not.
A good way to create a video with no sound is to turn a blog post into a video.
For example, ‘The Top 5 Restaurants in the US’ could be quickly transformed into a video using B-roll and captions to summarise the main points.
One consideration when you’re creating your video captions is: how global is your audience?
Since Facebook is the best social channel for global coverage, making captions in various languages may help you gain reach in multiple countries.
Facebook allows you to upload multiple srt (subtitle) files to cover a variety of languages, perfect if you have a number of global territories you’d like your video to be viewed in.
Captions should only be used sparingly and shouldn’t distract from the viewer’s enjoyment of the visuals.
Best practice summarized
When you’re building videos for particular placements, check them against this summary to be sure you’re on the right track.
- Use the first three seconds wisely – secure your audience’s attention
- Tell your story without sound by using captions
- Experiment with using hidden posts in News Feed to create a video ad for particular customer personas
- Consider changing your aspect ratio to measure engagement – try square format
- Practice scheduling your organic content so your community can expect helpful or entertaining content on a particular day
- Only use in-stream if your target audience uses Facebook as a video platform
- Ensure your mid-roll will fit with the brands it’s advertised on
- Capture attention instantly with your ‘why’
- Test skippable and non-skippable video ads
- Use with Facebook Live if it fits with your community
- Know your best spokespeople – who is known to your community and is a natural on camera
- Focus on storytelling and narrative: if there’s more to come, inform the audience when to expect the next segment
- Always shoot in vertical aspect ratio
- Ensure your content is time-sensitive. Stories are great for limited time sales and discount codes
- Make the call to action specific, with an animation or a vocal ‘swipe up for more’
- Make video the center of your Instant Experience
- Make visuals striking, it’s an immersive experience
- Test out premade templates
- Remember to keep your short-form content around 5-15 seconds
- Mark clear paths through your Instant Experience with simple steps and actions to take on their journey
- Ensure you have a large enough community on Facebook to engage with when going live
- Have a backup plan in case things don’t work out
- Create a regular time for your livestream so viewers know when to tune in
- Encourage conversation and contribution with your community
- Set a clear intent – if there isn’t a good enough reason to go live, don’t do it
Placement choice. Start with News Feed, Live, and Stories. Work your way up to Instant Experiences. Use in-stream if your audience use Facebook as a video platform.
Ads or boost. Ads allow greater targeting and intimacy with the groups that make up your target market. Boost is perfect for regular programming.
Dynamic creative. Skip external A/B tools. Facebook’s in-house solution is superior and allows for rapid ad creation. It’s particularly useful for e-commerce.
Immerse yourself. Get a feel for the various ad placements by experiencing them. Once you know know the context, it’s easier to market within it.