For every hero video created today, many brands require 90-100 video iterations for all their different ad formats and social media channels. Some big integrated campaigns with multiple testing variants may have several hundred.
Just take that in for a moment. Not so long ago, you focused on a single creative execution. You made one video or TV ad per campaign, pressed upload and waited for the organic views to flow in! Okay, it was a tad more complicated than that, but still. Churning out all these creative executions marks a huge transition, not least in marketers’ ways of working.
A failure to transition?
We frequently meet marketers who still put 90% of their energy into their hero campaign videos. They spend their remaining 10% grappling with targeting and formats, leaving no time for meaningful tailoring. Minimal effort goes into understanding the viewer experience and crafting executions to suit different users and contexts. And it isn’t so easy to condense a 2-minute video into an 8 second story, especially when it’s an afterthought!
Yet this kind of tailoring is critical to campaign success. A skill we must all master.
Birthday cake syndrome
Many content marketers treat hero videos like birthday cake. They get their bake-on, deliver a multi-faceted masterpiece, then start slicing it up.
“How much do you want, Gran?”
“Only a small slice for me, please”
“Got it. What about you, Dave?”
Brands do the same, slicing up portions by ratio and length. They need:
- 15 second ads for Twitter
- 6 second bumpers for YouTube
- 15-20 second pre-rolls for YouTube
- 10 second ads for LinkedIn
- 1 frame, 8 second stories for Instagram
- Pre-rolls for Facebook
And the list goes on. Not to mention extra variants for personalisation, translation and optimisation.
Little wonder marketers stop thinking about the poor viewers on the receiving end. And yet we must. Because videos aren’t slices of birthday cake.
From targeting to tailoring
Assuming you can get your head around your ad specs, how do you make these short videos more relevant – and hence, more effective?
Three important dimensions to consider:
Social media platform
• Who are the platform users, in terms of gender, age, location and other demographics? Can you target by interests or other behaviours? What kind of content do they favour? Do they watch on desktop or mobile? What are their audio habits? What about platform culture and etiquette?
• Is the video imposed upon viewers or watched intentionally? Must users swipe [up, down, left, right], click or pause to engage? What’s the size, shape and length? Does it loop? Is content muted by default? How are text and links incorporated? Is the video ephemeral or posted ‘permanently’?
Stage of the buyer journey
• Which stage are users at? Awareness, consideration, conversion or are they already customers? Does the call to action (CTA) match their stage? If retargeting, what was their prior activity?
Answers to these questions should inform each creative execution. Let’s look at some examples to bring them to life!
Tailoring example: Google Nest Audio
Aspect recently put together a Social Media Best Practice Guide which included creative executions from a variety of brands. For this post, it seemed more helpful to pick a single campaign.
I’ve chosen Nest Audio, Google’s new range of connected speakers, recently brought under the MadebyGoogle umbrella. I should add that it wasn’t one of our campaigns and truthfully I don’t think it is as visually or creatively bold as it could be, but it is a good illustration of some of the points I want to emphasise:
How do creative executions vary?
The launch video – 30 seconds
This hero or lead video introduces the speakers and includes a variety of supporting messages.
• Note how this video relies strongly on soundtrack and voiceover.
• Audio is key for unskippable formats like TV ads and YouTube pre-roll ads. Even if users click into a different tab during a YouTube pre-roll, the audio will still be heard.
Instagram post – 30 seconds
Different ratio, same length – and adapted to be mute-friendly:
• Visual on-screen messaging drives the story. There’s no voiceover or change in music.
• The flow has been reworked and features different stock footage.
• Sound coming out of the speakers is now represented graphically.
Twitter – 4 second post
This short cut suits Twitter’s short attention span. Notice:
• Singularity of message – ‘connect two speakers’
• Panning left to right catches the eye and disrupts scrolling
• Accompanying copy drives conversion with a ‘time-limited offer’
Twitter – 11 and 12 second posts
These two videos highlight secondary messages using core footage. Notice how the vibe varies for different users/use cases:
• Hey Google, play my classical playlist [classical music plays]
• Hey Google, play on all my speakers” [Hold the line by Toto plays]
While I can’t access the original stories, the same tailoring principles apply to Nest’s current Instagram highlights:
• Simple, single message per story
• The look and feel fits Instagram’s emphasis on beautiful aesthetics
• For viewers who watch all the highlights, the final story links to the Google store
• Small animated elements bring static videos alive – i.e. the animated arrows!
Note the cat! Always helps….
YouTube – how to videos (21 seconds)
86% of YouTube viewers say they use it to learn new things, so tailoring content into how-to videos is worth considering.
While Nest speaker footage features in this video, the treatment is very different from the other Nest Audio content – especially the graphics which appear at 0.13 seconds. Tailoring can go too far, so I recommend ensuring a fair degree of continuity. In this case it was probably a different content team entirely.
Okay that’s enough for now on examples! Hopefully you get the point and that I’ve brought the art of tailoring to life and inspired you to make more relevant iterations in future.
A final thought is that all this work needs to be scoped ahead of time during the brief formation and planning stages to ensure you capture all the content you need and have considered all the creative variants. It also neatly brings me back to a full circle to my first article [mixed messages] because it is often this lack of consideration around creative relevant content that results in marketeers feeling the need to shoehorn all messages into that one hero output!
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