This is the second installment of our Fall series, “Designing Successful Digital Ads”. Over the last seven years, we’ve seen more than our fair share of digital ads — both good and bad. So, we decided to put together some tips to help you get the most out of your digital campaigns. Click here to read the first installment on display ads!

Online video consumption is skyrocketing as minutes spent on linear (or live) television steadily erodes. With the rise of streaming services like YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon prime, not to mention the explosion of video content everywhere else around the internet, we know that digital video advertising has rapidly become one of the most powerful methods of engaging and persuading voters.

Unfortunately, studies show that the average person with a highly digital lifestyle loses interest and concentration after eight seconds. That’s one second less than a goldfish.

That means our strategy to grab voters’ attention — and hold it long enough for them to be persuaded, or at least remember your name — needs to evolve as fast as our attention is deteriorating. And that’s not easy for directors and producers used to thinking about video in :30 second and :60 second formats.

Thankfully, there are a few important things to remember when developing your paid video content.

First: Be quick, but effective. Unlike on TV, people tend to scroll through content pretty quickly whether it’s on phones, tablets or desktops. You only have a few seconds to hook your viewer, so make sure you plan on engaging them quickly. Martin Hamburger of Hamburger Gibson Media put it best:

"A lot of my TV ads are: Set-up. Set-up. Set-up. Punchline… But now [for digital] I have to do: Punchline. Explanation. Explanation. Explanation.”

Second: Remember the context in which viewers will see the ad. This isn’t (typically) going to be a giant 55 inch or bigger TV screen in a living room, with your audience staring at it. Your audience will be viewing on phone, at work, walking down the street, maybe while cooking or in a meeting, so plan accordingly. There are a couple key things to remember:

  • Videos may be played silently–especially on mobile devices. Make sure to plan for that with either pure visuals, where no sound is needed, and/or build in subtitles so the audience can read along.
  • Avoid using cinematic crane shots or long depth-of-field that look great on a huge screen, but are impossible to absorb on a phone.

Third: Digital video is engaging. Take advantage of that. While the biggest impact your video will make is in the voter’s mind, most digital video formats also allow you to add clickable areas to help a user engage more deeply with the campaign — either getting more information, subscribing, or taking an action. Don’t forget adding these into the video themselves, or as kickers at the end.

Finally: Don’t be afraid to try other formats, and lengths. Vertical video used to be kind of a joke for internet enthusiasts, but as social media has evolved, square and vertical formats have found their place. Additionally, there are a lot of contexts in which lower-production quality videos work better, as they can be (or seem) more authentic. And, the more lengths you have available, the more inventory you can access — which means you can engage your audience in more ways. Don’t be afraid to give all of these options a try, and see how your video completion rates, or other KPIs are impacted by changing scripts, lengths, and formats.

Have thoughts or questions? We’d love to talk more about it. Just get in touch with your client contact, or drop us a line on twitter at @DSPolitical.