Internet video has evolved greatly from a time when it took 15 minutes to download a 15-second clip that was about as grainy as a pointillism painting. Now, consumers are watching more videos online than ever and this creates a lot of opportunities for business owners and marketers. According to a 2015 report from comScore, 87 percent of online Americans watch video online. The growth of internet video has allowed businesses to tell their story to consumers in new ways and made video advertising far more accessible to small business. However, if business owners want their video ads for Facebook, YouTube or PPC ads to be effective, they need to be made correctly. Here are five tips marketers can use when creating video content for marketing and advertising.

  1. Tailor Video Content for a Particular Audience
    Just like with all other forms of advertising, there is no magic bullet for video content that will get everyone to click. Furthermore, internet marketing allows for far more precise targeting than what was available for traditional TV video ads. This means marketers can focus their content more without the risk of losing the more general audience. People don't just watch every video that shows up on their screen. They are much more likely to pay attention if the content is relevant to their interests. Marketers should consider making slightly different versions of their video content for different demographics and use these tailored videos in target ads and promoted content. For example, a software retailer should make different videos for consumers with different levels of technical skills. One video could focus on how easy-to-use the software is, while another could focus on the highly technical issues that only pros would care about. Tailoring video content greatly increases the likelihood it will have the desired effect on the audience.
  2. Use Strong Opening with First Few Seconds
    The internet is a speedy place and video content has to work fast to get the attention of consumers. Whether it's a video ad on the sidebar of a website, a promoted video on Facebook, or the lead in video on YouTube, marketers have less than five seconds to get the attention of the viewer. This puts videos with slow starts at a huge disadvantage. Unlike TV ads, where it's possible to build mystery for half of the ad before getting to the point, such an ad on the internet will get scrolled past or skipped before the ad has a chance to hook the viewer. It's important to make the point clear very quickly. In advice they give to video advertisers, Facebook says marketers should '"consider showing brand or product imagery in the first few seconds".
  3. Consider Screen Size When Creating
    There are a lot of ways for people to access video content online, and size matters greatly when it comes to the viewability of content. Just as you can't do a Where's Waldo on a postage stamp, certain videos won't work as well when viewed on mobile screens. For example, a video that is dark with heavy shadowing will be harder to view on a smaller screen. Similarly, having fine print on a video ad for regular sized screens make sense, but the text will just be a blurry line of letters on a mobile device. Since smartphone owners (which makes up about 90% of the U.S. adult population) spend nearly three days a week watching online videos, so screen size can't be ignored.
  4. Use a Strong Opening Image
    Similar to the advice of getting to the point with the first few seconds, the static image that is shown before the video content should also be very appealing. For some ad networks, users have to click the video to start the playthrough and a strong opening image is like a call to action. YouTube recommends that marketers "entice customers to click “play” using rich, sharp colors" and to "include a few words to describe your product, service, and/or business". Using a strong opening image also makes the effective, even when not viewed. Earlier this year, Nielsen released a study that found that video ads increased brand awareness even when the ad was never played. This means that the opening image was strong enough to improve brand recall. Brands saw increases in ad recall, brand awareness and purchase intent just as a result of seeing the opening image.
  5. Create Videos that are Appealing With or Without Sound
    This is a piece of advice that started with Facebook but should be applied to all video ads. Videos on Facebook start to autoplay with the sound off, so the visuals have to be strong enough to get the viewer to click the video for the audio. YouTube does something similar with its homepage banner ad, but the cost of that particular ad space makes it less of a concern for most business owners. Still, even when ads play with audio before the main content, many viewers will mute the ad until their content comes on. Using a video that's visually appealing when the sound is off will make it possible to grab attention when people are trying to ignore the audio. Similarly, using visuals to reinforce the audio makes the ad more effective when viewed properly. Facebook suggests, "when enabled, your video's sound should offer additional value to viewers and further bring your story to life".

As video content becomes more prevalent on the internet, marketers can use their own content to make an impression on consumers through ads or branded content. Using these tips will help marketers create more effective video campaigns in the future.

For more information on how content marketing helps businesses, read this article on how online videos encourage consumers, especially millennials, to buy.