Give Viewers A Reason To Finish Watching Your Video Ads

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, June 17, 2015
How often do you watch a video ad to completion?  One study found that 60% of viewers never make it to the end of a video.  This can have a significantly negative impact on brand messaging.

A great example of this factor was the “Same Day Pups” campaign from  The Humane Society of the United States, which launched with an engaging ad for a fake brand called Same Day Pups that allowed you to pick out an adorable puppy online and order him to be delivered to your home instantly by drone. A week later the company released the same ad, but added an end panel with the message “Don’t buy into puppy mills. A puppy is not a product.”

The video was uploaded to YouTube and Facebook, attracting a firestorm of negative comments from people who did not watch the video until the end and assumed that puppy drone delivery was real instead of satire.  They completely missed the positive message that the Human Society was trying to deliver.

Brands want to ensure viewers are consuming the message they intended to deliver.  To do so, they must create video ads that are like movie trailers, capturing the viewer’s attention within the first three seconds, because now viewers have the ability to skip or click away from ads instantly.

Brands must also keep in mind the three key reasons viewers may not watch to completion:

Video duration is too long. With the growing number of platforms and media outlets vying for people’s attention, it is important to consider video duration in conjunction with media placement, creative genre, and brand messaging

Viewers have to wait too long to get the main message. By waiting until the very end of the ad to deliver the main message via a long-end panel, brands run the risk of viewers missing the point, as in the example above.

Skippable pre-roll makes it easy for viewers to leave after five seconds, so choosing the right format is key.

In order to increase viewer retention, brands should incorporate these three elements into their video campaigns:

Tell a story: one with a great beginning, an effective build-up that peaks in the middle, and concludes with a meaningful ending.  For example, Hyundai leveraged effective storytelling with its “Message to Space” video that focused on a 13-year-old Houston girl named Stephanie trying to send a message to her astronaut father, who’s gone for months at a time at the international space station.   This heart-warming story was a huge viral hit for Hyundai, attracting more than 30 million viewers to date.

Stick with the same tone. The tone of the video ad should stay consistent from beginning to end, providing continuity and a reason to keep watching. Don’t assume that an approach that works for a 30-second spot will work for a video content ad. Often a long laundry list of product features will turn off viewers.

Pick a genre that works. Certain genres work better than others. In one study of 20+ ad genres, Nostalgia and Love/Relationships were the two that generated the highest viewership.  This is not surprising, since people love to reminisce about the old days and have their heartstrings pulled.  Other popular genres include Sci/Fi Fiction, Informational, Heartwarming/Inspirational, Celebrities/Icons and Sex Appeal.

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