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What Makes an Engaging Video Ad?

May 16, 2016 / by Michael Cornacchia

Everyone can remember at least one great video ad.
Whether it's the Coca-Cola polar bears, Dos Equis's Most Interesting Man in the World, or Old Spice's The Man Your Man Could Smell Like—we all have an iconic video ad ingrained in our memories.
But for every engaging video ad that inspires, educates, and entertains, there are hundreds more that offer little to no value.
So how does one go about creating an engaging video ad? Let's find out.


Five tips for making an awesome video ad


1) Engage the viewer in the first 3 seconds

What you're about to read is the most important part of creating an engaging video ad. Did I get your attention? Interested in reading more? That's because you, like most viewers, decide almost immediately whether content will be worth your while. 
In one study, it was determined that 47 percent of the value in a video ad campaign was delivered in the first 3 seconds, while 74 percent was delivered in the first ten seconds. 
Reason being? Web visitors suffer from short attention spans and are quick to move onto the next piece of content. This is why you must share your brand's unique story right from the get-go.
So what can you do? If you have a celebrity, let's see them right away. Highlighting product value? Don't wait. Save the best for... the beginning! And make instant engagement your top priority.

2) Make your video dynamic and exciting

The pace of your video should match the energy of your product and message. 
Keep the images fresh and moving to keep the viewer wanting more. Tease them and build curiosity by changing pace and including close-ups that offer perspectives as original as your product.
Often seen in movie trailers, big brands do a great job of this—after all, it's an excellent way to flaunt masterful production that resonates with your audience.

3) Design for no sound

While having sound in your ad is important for TV or radio, that's not the case for mobile. Most mobile users have their devices muted, leaving them at risk of missing your brand's messaging completely. Also, when unexpected audio plays, 80 percent of people react negatively
It's best to design your video ads with sound off by focusing on your creatives and adding subtitles if necessary.

4) Plan for mobile

Mobile ad spend, led by video, now accounts for the majority of all digital ad spend, with video becoming the focal point of the mobile marketing mix. 
And it's no wonder why. According to a study by Opera Media Works, mobile video ads aided brand recall by 30 percent and brand awareness by 52 percent.
Keep this in mind while planning your next campaign by considering the smaller screens, the in-app views, location targeting, and overall user experience. 

5) Make it native-friendly

As one of the five major types of video ads, native or in-feed video ads is one of the fastest growing sources for new mobile video inventory (Opera). 
Typically considered only a top funnel contributor, native video is also performing strongly in lower funnel metrics, leading to a 30 percent increase in purchase intent over other types of video ads. You should always be looking to scoop up as much native video ad inventory as possible.

Summary of video ad tips

  • Engage the viewer in the first 3 seconds
  • Make your video dynamic and exciting
  • Design for no sound
  • Plan for mobile
  • Make it native-friendly


Over time, we've seen the focus of advertisers teeter from quality to quantity and back to quality, with a strong emphasis on video.
While others are hacking together video ads and distributing them for vanity metrics’ sake, a well-executed, high-quality video ad that incorporates these tips will be that much more noticeable and lead to measurable increases in your team's marketing metrics. 

Written by Michael Cornacchia

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