How to Engage & Expand Your Audience with Video Advertising

How will you incorporate video into your digital advertising strategy this year?

For a long time, broadcast and cable TV advertising were the most prestigious form of advertising. It connected with the audience at a deep emotional level and also a limited number of slots were available during primetime. As a result, it was also pricey. Only the largest brands and agencies could afford it.

But with the growth of video streaming, cable-cutting, and audience targeting technologies, brands of any size can develop a campaign that yields ROI and partake in the exciting video advertising medium.

Video ads are a growing piece of the digital advertising pie. Although they originally only played a small part of campaigns, video ads now play an increasingly critical role in engaging potential customers. With increasing personalization through OTT, creative formats like cinemagraphs, and the fact that by 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic, video is slowing down for no one.

The increase of focus on video is directly connected to the fact that people prefer it. A report by Wyzowl found that 66% of people said they’d prefer to watch a short video to learn about a product or service and that people are 2x as likely to share video content with friends over other content formats. Why? Because people have reduced attention spans and video is the perfect way to get a memorable message in front of people in the shortest amount of time.

The Growing Dominance and Key Trends of Video Advertising

With ad spending in the Video Advertising segment projected to reach $26 billion in 2020 and $35 billion by 2024, and marketers reporting an increase for digital video budgets by 25%, the video ad landscape is quickly evolving and rapidly growing.

A graph showing video ad spending on desktop and mobile devices

Here are the key trends and developments worth noting in video advertising.

Video vs. Static Display Ads

A study by MediaMind analyzed over three billion ad impressions globally over a six month period. Their results revealed that prospects are 27.4 times more likely to click-through online video ads than standard banners.

While image or text display ads rely on compelling copy and images, video ads easily catch user attention, thanks to using both movement and sound. These features help efficiently convey a message and connect with the viewer in an easily consumable way, helping lead to increased engagement.

Native video ads also do well since they don’t disrupt the user experience. Sharethrough and Nielsen conducted a joint study to compare the two, and the results are clear: of the five campaigns studied, every campaign resulted in higher brand lift when using native video ads versus pre-roll.

One campaign even saw an 82% brand lift amongst users exposed to the ads as compared to just 2.1% for users exposed to the campaign’s pre-roll ads.

Consumer Preference and ROI

In research by Wyzowl, 84% of people say that they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video. In addition, two-thirds of people (66%) said they’d prefer to watch a short video to learn about a product or service.

As for ROI, the same study found that 95% of video marketers say video has helped increase user understanding of their product or service, and 80% of video marketers say video has directly helped increase sales and generate leads.


With smartphones becoming ubiquitous, marketers know that consumers use their phones for news, shopping, entertainment and information. As a result, many brands have worked to make their websites, advertisements and services mobile-friendly.

The increase in mobile has impacted how video ads are prepared. Most videos recorded on mobile devices today are shot in an upright format known as vertical video. By creating video ads in this format, marketers can reach audiences on Instagram Stories, Facebook and others.

In addition, new formats such as live broadcasting, 360° panoramas, or virtual reality videos will likely be delivered and enjoyed on mobile over desktop. Because there aren’t disruptive technological innovations on the rise in the desktop market, it will struggle to keep up with mobile and will likely stagnate.

With more than 40% of transactions happening through mobile, designing for an intuitive mobile experience is critical.


Cinemagraphs are photo and video hybrids that contain a subtle motion. By playing on a loop, the visual seems like a simple video or animation. For example, a candle flickering, water hitting the shore, or rain are a few examples of how cinemagraphs can imitate motion. Cinemagraphs spark more interest than photos but have the benefit of not requiring extensive video editing.

Programmatic & OTT

Within video ads, there are a variety of trends worth noting. OTT content providers are increasingly focused on video-on-demand (VOD) models, including subscription VOD, transactional VOD and ad-supported VOD. By combining programmatic capabilities with OTT, marketers can utilize targeting and advanced analytics to reach specific audiences with highly personalized ads.

59% of ad buyers plan to increase their advanced TV spend within the next 12 months, with half also reporting increases in OTT. Buyers report that half of digital video budgets will be spent through programmatic buys. Why? Because programmatic advertising uses behavioral data to find your audience and display the perfect video ad in the right place at the right time, making it far more effective.

Video Ad Formats and Platforms to Capitalize On

If video feels like it’s everywhere, that’s because it is. There are many types of video ad formats and platforms to choose from. Here are the key ones to watch for:


YouTube has three main video ad formats available:

  • Skippable video ads allow viewers to skip ads after 5 seconds. They are inserted before, during, or after the main video. Skippable video plays in the video player and can be placed on desktop, mobile devices, connected TV and game consoles.
  • Non-skippable video ads must be watched in-full before your video can be viewed. They can appear before, during, or after the main video. Non-skippable video is played in the video player and runs on desktop and mobile devices. They’re typically 15 or 20 seconds in length, depending on regional standards.
  • Bumper Ads are non-skippable video ads of up to 6 seconds. With this option, you may see a combination of skippable and bumper ads play back to back. Bumper ads are placed on desktop and mobile devices in the video player.

You can choose one or many styles of YouTube ads for your video marketing and test to see which one performs best.

Instream Social Media Ads

Instream ads can also appear on Social Media. The Facebook in-stream video ad placement lets you show mid-roll video ads to viewers who are watching video content from select publishers (such as ESPN, The New York Times, CNN, etc.). The ads are unskippable and can be up to 5-15 seconds in length.

Facebook offers six main formats for video ads.

  • Slideshow video ads: These allow advertisers to incorporate images and sound to create video-like ads that can narrate products and services on both desktop and mobile devices.
  • Stories: These video ads are vertical, visual advertisements placed in the Stories feed on mobile devices.
  • Carousel ads: This format allows you to showcase up to ten images or videos within a single ad. Each carousel card can have its own link. Because you can have so many cards, there’s more room for creativity in how you highlight different products or offers.
  • Collection ads: This ad format helps your prospects transition from discovery to purchase. Collection ads feature a primary video that can be used to spark interest and awareness. With four smaller accompanying images organized in a grid, consumers can learn more about their options and product details.
  • Playable ads: With playable ads, advertisers give users an interactive preview of an app before they download them. The ad starts with an intro video of the app and then offers an option to interact. It’s a great way to engage consumers and offer a preview without committing to downloading.
  • Instant Experiences: Facebook Instant Experiences are designed to capture the complete attention of your audience on mobile. Facebook claims that they can load up to fifteen times faster than standard mobile web ads. All in one ad, customers can watch engaging videos and photos, tilt to pan, swipe through carousels and explore and shop images with tagged products.

Instagram also offers instream video ads. In a report by Wibbitz, 31% of survey respondents said they had purchased a product directly after watching a video on the platform. LinkedIn also offers video ads, and members spend nearly 3x more time watching video ads compared to static Sponsored Content.

OTT/Connected TV

Connected TV advertising is one of the most effective ways to reach your audience. CTV ads are more targeted, cost-friendly, measurable and on-trend with consumer behavior than typical traditional ads. By taking advantage of connected TV, marketers can reach consumers across the open internet and on popular streaming services like Hulu, VUDU and others.

For connected TV video ads, there are three key formats to be aware of:

  • In-stream video ads are unskippable 15- to 30-second long ads that play before or during the program. They are a clever and cost-effective way to reuse your existing television ads for connected TV.
  • Interactive Pre-Roll ads are like in-stream video ads, except they encourage the viewer to click through to a landing page. For example, if you’re advertising an online conference, this type of ad could bring the viewer to a page where they could reserve their spot.
  • Home Screen Placement ads are ads that live on the home screen. They’re typically a short video or image and can feature a call to action like ‘sign up’.

With CTV, not only can you control and glean in-depth insights into the profile of the audience who is viewing your ads, but you can also buy ads in packages and serve them via powerful ad formats. In doing so, you can address each stage of the buyer journey in a trackable way.

Out-stream Ads

Out-stream video ads are ads you see in the middle of online articles. It is an engaging, non-disruptive ad experience in which the video plays only when the ad is in view.

And thanks to programmatic capabilities, out-stream ads can leverage the open internet and help you reach your audience wherever they are and create more options for ad placements.

Instream Ads on Premium Content

Connected TV can also reach consumers as they watch premium content. Three video on demand (VOD) formats that can host video ads include:

  • Subscription video on demand (SVOD). These include subscription streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. They either don’t run ads or only run them on an unpaid subscription model.
  • Advertising-based video on demand(AVOD). AVODs are free streaming services that operate based on ad revenue. Examples of AVOD include Tubi, Crackle and Vudu.
  • Multichannel video programming distributors(vMVPDs). These are streaming service providers that have paid-TV programming. Some examples include AT&T Now, Sling and YouTube TV.

When Choosing Between Video Ad Options – Programmatic is the Clear Choice

Today, roughly 75% of video ads are programmatic. Because programmatic advertising relies on data, it allows us to reach across channels and serve targeted ads on mobile, desktop and TV sets.

Because programmatic covers all publishers (like Bloomberg, CNN, BBC, Disney, Twitch and small publishers like video games or apps), and also offers a variety of formats including out-stream, pre-roll, mid and post-roll, virtually all the users on the internet can be reached.

With YouTube video ads limited to, instream and out-stream video allow for advertisers to engage with users across the internet with the same video asset they have running on YouTube.

In many head-to-head case studies of YouTube video against instream and out-stream, YouTube consistently costs more across a variety of key metrics, including a higher cost-per-action, higher CPM and lower overall efficiency when compared to instream or out-stream video.

Overall, when running video on the internet, we recommend testing both YouTube and the open internet (.coms, apps and more) video inventory and optimizing accordingly.

Applying Video Ads to the Customer Journey

Video ads can be applied to the traditional marketing funnel at all stages. Fusing video marketing into your marketing strategy can help achieve common marketing goals like lead generation, product education and sales.

Top of the Funnel

Top of the funnel video is great for brand awareness and lead generation. It’s recommended to put 20%–40% of your ad budget into top-of-funnel video.

Video communicates a lot of information in a short amount of time. Therefore, once someone has either watched 10%–20% of the top-of-funnel video and/or visited your website, they’re considered in the funnel. The precise percent of the video should be based on the timestamp of when the brand is introduced.

Basic spokesperson videos are simple to create and effective at delivering key brand messages.

Middle of the Funnel

The difference between mid-level and low-level funnel content is in how direct the sales message is delivered. In the middle of the funnel, the goal is still to entertain and educate while also overcoming concerns and objections.

To leverage programmatic capability, you can then begin dynamic retargeting of people within the funnel. Depending on your campaign, it can be based on which pages of the website were visited, whether someone abandoned their cart, signed up on a landing page and so on.

By using dynamic creative optimization (DCO), marketers can create personalized retargeted ads based on viewer data at the moment of ad serving. Because the creative is highly relevant, tested and optimized, dynamic ads typically outperform their static counterparts.

Note: DCO’s targeting capabilities are so advanced that we also recommend using it for prospecting. DCO enables you to prospect with tailored ads based on any user’s past browsing data, even before they enter your retargeting pool! For instance, you could geo-target audiences of a certain income-level who are in-market for a family van with DCO. The ads would be able to show specific models, price, and more.

Depending on the action taken, they’ll be served a new video that puts them into a sequence of customer testimonials, videos that help them overcome concerns, discount offers, before-and-after videos, product demos, explainer videos and others.

Bottom of the Funnel

At the bottom of a video funnel, content tends to be straightforward and promotional. It’s typically short-form and has the goal of keeping top-of-mind and converting to sales.

Depending on the price of the product and the typical time it takes for a customer to decide (i.e., bigger purchases have longer decision periods), discounts will be dripped out over shorter or longer periods of time.

Acquisio Case Study with NHL

A great example of how video advertising can boost your in-funnel audience is the campaign that Acquisio Trading Desk ran for an NHL hockey team. The goal was to sell more tickets by broadening the retargeting pool with upper funnel prospecting.

We ensured prospecting was effective by targeting fans of hockey or specific hockey teams using third-party audience data. Additionally, CTV video was an untapped format for this team and thus guaranteed we would be reaching a new group.

A retargeting pool of interested audiences was identified based on high engagement with the CTV ads (those who view more than 50% of an ad).

85% of viewers met our engagement criteria, highlighting the attractiveness of video advertising. That pool became the target for a display campaign with the conversion goal of ticket purchase.

In the end this programmatic campaign yielded a 327% return on ad spend (ROAS).

Video Advertising KPIs and Results

Video key performance indicators (KPI) can vary depending on the goal of your campaign. Here are some sample KPIs depending on if your goal was to boost awareness, increase consideration, or inspire conversions.

A list of goals and kpis used in measuring brand marketing goals

Cost Per Viewable Impression (CPVI or VCPM/VCPV)

With this pricing model, an advertiser only pays for video ad impressions that are considered viewable based upon The Media Ratings Council (MRC) and IAB viewability guidelines. They are typically sold per every 1000 impressions.

Video Completion Rates (VCR)

This KPI represents the percentage of all video ads that play through their entire duration to completion.

On the whole, VCR has continued to rise. Extreme Reach’s figures show that video ads were viewed to completion 89% of the time last year, up from 83% in 2018 and 70% in 2017. Connected TV (CTV) continues to have the highest VCR of all device types. With a consistent rate of about 96% throughout 2019, CTV stands apart from all other devices.

A graph showing video ad completion rates by device


According to IAB’s definition of viewability, an ad is viewable if at least 50% of the video ad is in view for 2 consecutive seconds. For both desktop video and mobile video, the required time is not necessarily the first two seconds of the video ad; any unduplicated content of the ad comprising two continuous seconds qualifies in this regard.

When assessing video ad results, it’s important to differentiate between viewability and video viewing. By this definition, viewability means the video ad is shown, but it does not necessarily mean the video was watched in full from beginning to end.

In conjunction with the IAB, the MRC has compiled a list of viewable impression ad measurement guidelines to help advertisers decipher and understand viewability. DSPs, Exchanges and 3rd-party data providers are also accountable for providing information where possible.

The task you need to prioritize is finding out how each publisher defines viewable inventory, and how much of it is available to you. Based on this, you can make strategic decisions to overcome the difficulty with viewability in programmatic. Here are some examples:

  • Consider Your Placements. If you can carefully select your ad placements, you can increase your chances of bidding on viewable impressions, without the extra cost.
  • Stick to Performance-Based Bids. Buying impressions on performance-based models such as Cost per Click and Cost per Completed View can help limit the chances of bidding on non-viewable impressions. After all, a user must see an ad to click it, so by using performance-based bids your campaign will have scale potential and guaranteed results.
  • Opt for Private Deals. Private deals are a great way to increase your likelihood to buy viewable inventory since publishers will specifically package viewable ad placements. The only downside is that these will likely come at much higher CPMs.

Three Memorable Video Advertising Examples

Now that you’ve seen the different ways that video ads can be applied, let’s review some memorable video campaigns that generated massive results.

Turner Sports Generated Interest and Engagement Through Video Ads

With programmatic advertising, Turner Sports wanted to help support the National Basketball Association (NBA) Season Tip-Off 2016 events, which aired on TNT. Their goal was to generate more interest and engagement for the event.

Turner Sports approached its goal with a programmatic video advertising campaign that reached six million unique viewers in the U.S. These ads used advanced targeting and featured real-time videos from tip-off events across the country.

As a result of their campaign, they were able to drive engagement, increase awareness and generate a 7% lift in brand awareness.

O2 Repurposed TV Ads into Programmatic & Highly-Targeted Videos

Tele-communications company O2 wanted to repurpose its TV ads and make them more interesting for mobile users. By leveraging their user data, O2 created programmatic video ads based on people’s mobile usage, including which device they use, the best offer on an upgrade.

More than 1,000 versions of the ad were made, allowing a personalized ad to be served to each user. As a result, these targeted and personalized ads generated a 128% better click-through rate.

Air Asia Used Programmatic Social Media to Boost Trust and Bookings

AirAsia used programmatic advertising to recover its reputation and increase bookings after a tragic accident in 2014.

The airline launched a series of display ads and video ads that targeted three specific sets of AirAsia clients: those who had flown before, those who booked after the crash and those who are considered regular customers. With the ad campaign, AirAsia earned a 30X return on ad spend and 17-point lift in ad-recall.

Wrapping Up

With video being more memorable, shareable and engaging than other formats, it’s quickly becoming the top choice for marketing campaigns. Combined with programmatic abilities like personalization, location targeting and reaching consumers across the open internet, video ads are a force to be reckoned with.

Overall, there’s never been a better time to dedicate more time and resources to learning how video ads can work for you.


Head image: Ethan Hu / Unsplash

Image 1: Statista

Image 2: Google

Image 3: Marketing Charts

Image (Video) 4: Turner Sports

Tom Whatley

Tom Whatley

Tom Whatley is the founder of Grizzle, a content marketing agency that helps B2B, SaaS and tech companies generate more traffic and leads through high-value content and distribution.

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