Mobile has blurred the lines between traditional forms of advertising. Brand-focused and direct response ads (ads that are designed to drive a specific action such as visiting a website, rather than simply promoting a product or brand) are no longer confined to certain channels. Instead, they live next to each other and compete for consumers’ attention on mobile feeds.
Brand advertisers have historically had a clear advantage over DR advertisers: TV offered brands room to experiment and create compelling narratives while digital ad formats such as search, banner and display ads were considered more restrictive and rarely seen as a place to push creative boundaries.
But mobile advertising has presented new opportunities for DR advertisers, allowing them to experiment with video and animation. In the past year, Facebook has seen the number of DR campaigns using video increase 3.8 times.
This is to be expected: people are spending an average of three hours per day on their phones, and are consuming more video than ever before. (A recent study by video company Wyzowl found that 79% of consumers would rather watch a video to learn about a product than read text on a page.)
But how can brands create direct response ads that will stand out alongside traditional brand campaigns on mobile screens? Facebook has conducted several studies to help answer this question, and has put together some advice and creative considerations for DR advertisers based on their results.
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The Guardian’s campaign has a clear focus on product and combines static images and animation
- Use static images and video together
Facebook has found that including static images and video assets within the same campaign leads to better performance and more conversions than video or static images alone. From an analysis of over 4,900 conversion lift studies, it found that DR campaigns that combine video and static images had a 6% higher conversion lift than static-only campaigns.
Conversion lift was determined by measuring a range of outcomes – such as viewing content, installing a mobile app, adding a product to cart, registering on an advertiser’s website and making a purchase – and test ads were grouped into three categories: static only, mixed format and video only.
Adding video or motion to a campaign doesn’t have to be labour intensive – it can be as simple as using animation to bring a brand’s logo to life or creating a short video clip to explain how a product or service works. Even small additions can make a big difference: in its Create to Convert study insert link, Facebook tested 49 campaigns that featured lightweight motion against static image campaigns and saw a positive outcome for 69% of brands. On average, brands using a mix of still and video ads saw a 17% higher conversion rate compared to brands using still only ads.
Based on this research, Facebook Creative Shop put together a list of lightweight motion techniques that can help drive better results:
- Basic motion: Animate your still image by adding one or two elements of motion in a few seconds
- Brand in motion: Bring the elements of your brand or logo to life in a few seconds to promote brand recognition
- Benefit in motion: Bring the key benefit or message of your ad to life through animation in a few seconds. This could be a product benefit, a special offer or discount, a testimonial or product variety. Highlighting the benefit will illuminate the value to your audience
- Demo in motion: Focus motion on demonstrating how your app, website, service, product or feature works
In each case, Creative Shop recommends including a call to action card at the end of the ad to drive conversions.
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Droga 5’s campaign to promote Coal Drops Yard in London shows how text, graphics and simple animations can be combined to create eye-catching videos
2. Have a clear message and focal point
Facebook’s research has also found that static image ads need to have a clear message and focus on the product or service being advertised in order to inspire action.
A recent Facebook study compared the results of four different ads promoting the same product, with varying degrees of product focus. The same test was carried out for 14 advertisers, with Facebook measuring both brand lift (ad recall, brand awareness, intent to purchase) and conversion lift to gauge the effectiveness of each ad.
Each advertiser was asked to create four campaigns, each with a single image, ranging from high to low product focus. The effectiveness of each ad was measured via a brand lift study (which tested ad recall, brand awareness and intent to purchase) and a conversion lift study.
From this research, Facebook found that ads with a high product focus performed better than those without – generating more views, higher brand awareness and greater intent to purchase at a lower cost in most cases. In almost all cases, it found the ad with the lowest product focus was the most expensive, requiring more investment to achieve similar brand awareness, ad recall and conversion outcomes.
3. Optimise video ads for mobile viewing
From previous research, Facebook has found that video ads created specifically for mobile drive stronger results. These ads are more likely to introduce a brand quickly, be shorter in duration (an average of 20 seconds) and are designed to work without sound, reflecting how people view content on a mobile.
Brand association is an important factor in driving action: Facebook has seen a positive correlation between conversion lift rates and using a logo within the first three seconds of an ad. Reinforcing the advertiser’s name in captions or superimposed text, using recognisable brand colours and adding a call to action card at the end of an ad can all help create stronger brand association.
Showcasing a product or service for most of the video can also lead to better results. Cropping videos to make a product the focal point, using cutaways to showcase multiple products and colour variations, and creating step by step tutorials to explain how a product works can all help keep consumers’ focus on a particular item or service, making them more likely to take action or make a purchase.
Videos have to grab people’s attention from the outset, so choose stand-out video thumbnails, lead with images of your product against contrasting backgrounds, use quick movements and transitions in between scenes to keep viewers engaged, and consider using text captions or overlays to emphasise key messages.
For a more detailed breakdown of Facebook’s Direct Response research, see Creative Considerations for Driving Action.
Insights is part of Inspire, a 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 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