Christmas. It’s a time for turkey, parties, presents, family arguments – and ads. Lots and lots of ads.
Christmas is when the creative industry goes into overdrive. Retailers compete for the accolade of the year’s best Christmas ad, spending huge budgets on ambitious ideas from epic animated tales (remember the Bear and the Hare?) to films featuring much-loved fictional characters. Barbour enlisted the snowman for its Christmas ad last year while Sainsbury’s brought Mog to life in CG in 2015.
Most brands create their Christmas campaigns with TV in mind – but more and more people are consuming seasonal campaigns on mobile. Thirty million people in the UK log in to Facebook every day on a mobile and engagement is 28% higher during the festive period than at any other time of year.
What does this mean for brands investing in lavish TV ads? Well, it’s not money wasted – any and every campaign can be adapted to work wonders on the smallest screen. Here, we show you how.
The rules for TV are pretty well established but there’s still a lot of uncertainty around what exactly agencies should do when designing video for a mobile environment. We’ve been studying mobile video for a couple of years now and we’ve got a few recommendations to help you get started…
Capture attention quickly
The massive shift to mobile means people consume content, especially video content, differently. TV is a passive experience best delivered in 30-second slots but mobile moves at a much faster pace.
Video gets five times more attention than static images in Facebook’s mobile feed – but the average person spends just 1.7 seconds looking at content.
The best video ads cut to the chase: aim for 15 seconds or less to increase completed views and put the hero of your ad front and centre. A study of 68 mobile ads on Facebook revealed that the top performing 65% all revealed the brand or product in the first three seconds – proof that it’s important to get to the point more quickly than you might in a traditional TV spot.
Build for sound off (but delight with sound on)
People watch mobile videos everywhere: when they’re on packed commuter trains, in busy coffee shops or at their desk pretending to be hard at work. So it’s important to make sure your video is easy to follow with or without sound. Tell your story with strong visuals, use graphics and text to support images and experiment with captions to ensure your video is just as engaging in silent mode as it is at full volume.
Tell Taller Tales
The small screen can be bigger than you think. You just have to shift your perspective. Most of us are used to creating widescreen visuals, but think about using the opportunity to go vertical for mobile. Vertical video means full screen takeover, with all sorts of options for how you arrange your visuals. A 4:5 ratio works for campaigns running on Facebook and Instagram, while 2:3 is the Feed ‘safe zone’. You can also switch the aspect ratio from 16:9 to 1:1
Experiment with different edits
We get it. Not everyone is going to shoot for mobile. But if you’re taking your TV footage to the edit suite, you can make it mobile ready with a few simple tweaks. Here’s the thing: when it comes to mobile feeds, more is more. The more creative options you have, the more opportunity you have to experiment, iterate and optimise. And the great thing is, Facebook doesn’t penalise you for trying multiple approaches. In fact, we reward it.
If you’re running multiple versions of the same creative, we’ll automatically give more weight to the videos that are working best, which leads to more efficient campaign delivery. It doesn’t have to be hard work, either. You’ve already shot all this great footage, so why not use as much of it as possible? Is there some footage that will work better for older or younger age groups? Parents or grandparents? Men or women? Use targeting to create tailored campaigns and ensure that each demographic is served content that is relevant to them.
Adapt, adapt, adapt
There’s one month to go before the grand unveiling of your Christmas TV ad. The edit is in the can, effects are locked and you’ve got sign off for the floaty acoustic version of that classic rock track. Good job. But your client just asked you for some mobile creative. What do you do?
Option 1 is do nothing. Run the TVC as is on social media. You’ll still get an audience, and anyway the ad is perfect – why would you want to do anything else to it? Fair enough. But you also know that 30 second ads don’t perform that well in Feed.
What’s option 2? Adaptation. This doesn’t mean take a butcher’s knife to your beautiful work. It means looking at your TVC as a collection of assets rather than a narrative arc and asking yourself how those assets could be brought to life on mobile. That means following some of the recommendations we’ve already mentioned, but it also just means getting creative.
How do you tell a 30 second story in 15 seconds without actually cutting any footage? Take your 16:9 footage, cut it into tiles, reassemble it in a vertical video and run multiple tiles simultaneously to tell the full story. This is just a new way of thinking about a story arc, alongside crops and ratios that make the most of the space available.
Marks & Spencer took its 2016 Christmas TVC and optimised it for Feed by cropping the ratio to 1:1, moving the brand logo to the opening frame, adding subtitles and enlarging the final screen to land its ‘Christmas with Love’ brand message. The ad performed up to 2x better compared to the non-optimised creative. (More info here).
No TV ad? No problem!
You don’t have to have a TV ad to run a video on Facebook. You can easily add a little bit of motion to any kind of ad with just a little bit of video know-how.
We’ve recently been experimenting with ‘performance ads’. We wanted to add a bit of razzle dazzle to ads featuring stills, so we took some images and added simple motion graphics to create eye-catching visual effects. We put the brand front and centre of the ad, and made sure the product benefit was highlighted within the first three seconds.
Know your toolkit
From Instagam Stories to Facebook’s full-screen Canvas experience, there are plenty of creative tools at your disposal when creating Christmas content. Our Creative Hub (facebook.com/ads/creativehub) features a guide to the various ad formats available on Facebook and Instagram alongside examples of creative campaigns.
We’re still learning what works and what doesn’t with video – and the only ‘rule’ is to experiment and keep pushing the boundaries. That’s why we’ve built the Creative Hub – so you can preview work on mobile, share with clients and get inspiration from the rest of the industry.
Insights is part of Inspire, a year-long partnership between Creative Review, Facebook and Instagram showcasing outstanding creative work and emerging talent on both platforms. More advice and inspiration is also available at Facebook’s Creative Hub.
Creative Hub was launched in 2016 to help the creative communities understand mobile marketing. The online tool allows creatives to experiment with content formats – from Instagram video to Facebook Canvas – and produce mock-ups to share with clients and stakeholders. It also showcases successful campaigns created for mobile. Try out the mock up tool at facebook.com/ads/creativehub and see the inspiration gallery here facebook.com/ads/creativehub/gallery