Marketing & Advertising

How to Create Video Ads That Sell

Direct response video ads on YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, and similar platforms have the potential to drive shoppers to your ecommerce site and help your company sell more.

While the creative substance of an ad can be a matter of taste, there are methods around targeting consumers and getting them to watch your commercial that are quantifiable and should help your business develop video ads that perform.

Think about how your company might apply some of these ideas to its direct response video advertising.

1. Target Potential Customers

Targeting your best potential customers involves managing who sees an advertisement and its content.

First, consider who should see your video ads.

Direct response video ads, like other digital marketing vehicles, can be aimed at your business’s potential customers.

There may be a tendency to think about ads on YouTube, Facebook, and Snapchat in the same way you think about advertising on traditional television programming. But the mediums are different.

With video ads, your company can target consumers based on:

  • Age, parental status, household income or similar,
  • Interests, affinities, and life events,
  • Previous interactions.

For YouTube, as an example, you can upload the email addresses of folks who have subscribed to your email newsletter and target them with video ads.

If you have a good understanding of your company’s best prospects, your video ads can reach them.

Next, target potential customers with your video content.

During a recent video campaign, online retailer Yoox did this by “tapping into two obsessions of its fashion-forward target audience — exclusivity and impulse buying. The first few seconds of each ad made clear that users had a one-of-a-kind shopping opportunity, but had to act fast,” according to a Think with Google post from April 2018.


The post continued, “Yoox’s approach proved that video can play a powerful role in getting potential customers over the line: the campaign drove thousands of conversions, six-figure sales results, and had an average view-through rate of 37 percent.”

2. 5 Seconds

Targeting potential shoppers with video content should include capturing their attention within five seconds or less. Maybe even a lot less.

The five-second mark comes from YouTube TrueView ads, which cannot be skipped for five seconds. Here is YouTube’s explanation of what a TrueView ad is.


Some video industry professionals suggest grabbing the viewers’ attention even more quickly since a person’s attention span in a couple of seconds can be the difference between success and failure.

“The first three seconds of your video ad are pivotal. That’s how long it takes for people to decide if they’ll continue watching, or keep scrolling and abandon your message,” wrote the authors of “Getting Creative with Direct Response Video Advertising,” a whitepaper from Nanigans, a marketing automation platform. “Right from the start, videos should include a strong hook to capture the viewer’s attention.”

Consider, once more, the Yoox video ad. “The ad’s opening moments made it clear that viewers had to act fast or lose out on the offer altogether. By hitting the ‘Shop Now’ button, users were directed to a landing page where they could purchase the unique item,” according to the Think with Google post.

3. Call to Action

The Yoox “Shop Now” button is helpful for direct response video advertising, not just because it was part of the reason that folks wanted to keep watching, but because it provides a clear call to action. Your company would be wise to have a specific and direct call to action, too.

A video ad call to action can take a few forms.

If the advertising platform permits it, include a clickable button or link that takes shoppers directly to an optimized landing page.

If a button or link is not an option, consider displaying a call to action in the video. This could be something like “Visit to get free shipping.” You could also speak the call to action in the video.

4. Platform Specific

Your television screen likely has a 16-by-9 aspect ratio. Most YouTube videos also have this aspect ratio, but it can make sense to produce videos in different aspect ratios — such as 1-by-1 — to match the ad platform or the viewer’s device.

5. Test

The first video ad your company produces will probably not be the best performer. Creating video ads that sell takes experimentation and iteration. Use your intuition to generate ad ideas and then use data to understand how well those ads perform.

Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
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