The Secrets Behind Doubling Your Video Ad CTR

The Secrets Behind Doubling Your Video Ad CTR
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Grabbing a Bigger Slice of Audience Attention Is Easier Than You Think

Working for a leading video creation platform like Powtoon has its perks —not the least of which is having a front row seat to the latest trends and changes in online video. And every once in a while, I get to observe something truly remarkable. We just created a massive new library of video ad templates, optimized based on our research and experience.

Below, I’ll tell you about the anatomy of these ads, and what makes them so powerful (and blindingly easy to make). Next week, I’ll be back to share an interview with Powtoon’s very own PPC genius, David Shapira, with details about how to set up, run, and assess your ad on Facebook. But first, a quick word about click-through rates…

What’s a Good CTR?

Click-through rates (CTRs) are a simple, but key metric for running click-based ad campaigns. They apply to any kind of communication you put out there that has as a goal getting your audience to click something. To calculate it, simply divide the total number of clicks by the total number of impressions your ad received.

For example, say I run an ad that receives 100 impressions (I know, not a very big campaign, but a very friendly number for the mathematically challenged like me). Now let’s say my ad encouraged people to click a button to sign up for my services, and that button gets 3 clicks…

3 clicks/100 impressions = 3% CTR.

Hmmm. Seem like a low number? Well, not if you work with PPC advertising. Industries and estimates vary. Business Insider put the average CTR for video ads at 1.84% a couple of years ago. And Clickstream has a more comprehensive analysis of average CTRs for search and display ads, with dating and personal apps getting the highest CTR (3.4%).

Ok. Fine. So our round-number example above actually matches the high end of averages for the most successful industry. But what if I told you there’s a way to nearly double that rate?

Ready to make a rocking video ad for your business? Start today!

Powtoon’s 6%-CTR Ad

Above is the ad we used to achieve nearly 6% CTR. We didn’t just throw a dart at the screen and hope for the best — when Powtoon launched live-action video capabilities, we saw a trend emerging with our users. We started to research what was driving this change, and what separated the most successful ads from the rest of the pack. We discovered a few essential steps to creating these ads.

Wanna skip the theory? We created tons of video ad templates based on this very research! Check them out today.

Step 1: Picking the Right Video: Length, Close Faces, Strong Emotion, Speed & Movement

The first ingredient in this awesome recipe is to choose the right video background. You can film your own, and sometimes that’s the very best option. But if you don’t have the time, money, or expertise, there are so many amazing stock footage sites online (and thousands upon thousands of videos right inside the Powtoon studio).


In considering the length of your video ad, you may find certain constraints based on format. For instance, a YouTube bumper ad is a non-skippable ad that is 6 seconds long. Obviously, a 6-second clip is the best length for a bumper ad. But on Facebook, the formatting is totally open. You could, theoretically, have a video ad on Facebook that is 240 minutes long. (For the record, I do not endorse 4-hour ads).

For a Facebook ad, the optimum length is between 10–15 seconds. This provides for enough time to get your message out AND close the ad with a specific CTA.

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Close faces

People respond to faces: from little babies to grouchy old men, and everyone in between. Faces instantly communicate an entire story, and we instantly resonate with the emotion on other human beings’ faces.

Our most successful ad was close up with a couple head banging in their car. Almost everyone has had a moment rocking out in a car. It’s instantly relatable.

Strong emotion

The emotions that this video triggers are also instant. That feeling of joy, of total loss of control when you hear a song you love so much you just have to dance. This grabs peoples attention and primes their mood for positivity.

There are also times when a negative emotion might be the one you’re after, or the feeling of safety and security. It all depends on the kind of customers you’re looking for and the kind of emotion you want linked with your brand.


Honestly, I’m not sure if slow-mo is always a silver bullet. But the ad above used it, and there’s something about slow-mo that catches the eye. Perhaps it’s the pattern interrupt of seeing a video that’s playing at a different time-scale. In any case, always consider the speed of your video and whether it fits your purposes.


Finally, movement. There’s gotta be some movement. Remember, if you run this ad on Facebook, it’s being placed within someone’s social feed. They will likely be scrolling down in a semi-conscious trance. Your video must be active enough to communicate in a quarter of a second that it’s not the same old static image. Nothing does that better than an active video with lots of movement.

Step 2: Craft Your Message

Once you choose your video, you have to pair it with text. This is a little something I refer to as micro copy. In reality, you have only 15 seconds. It’s enough time to say one thing well. And that means you can’t say everything. The first thing to consider is whether to be direct, or to be humorous.

Playing it straight

If you are trying to promote a business like a medical practice, a financial consultancy, or any other serious concern, you may want to stay away from humor. If you have a brand identity that could be damaged by a misunderstood stab at humor, playing it straight could be the way to go. Here, your message should simply focus on the benefits you offer to customers (or the problems they want to solve). Of course, there are great examples of “serious” companies creating humorous ads (think the Geiko gecko), but proceed with caution!

Make ’em laugh

Ok, let’s say you’ve applied all appropriate caution, and you’re ready to make a more playful, humorous message. That’s good news, because nothing is more successful than humor when you’re trying to build likeablity.

You can see in the Powtoon ad above, we didn’t go full-on “ha ha” funny, just a bit cheeky. Here is the text that appears in the ad:

Slide 1: Turn the r̶a̶d̶i̶o̶ video up
Slide 2: Headbanging marketing videos, ready in minutes.
Slide 3: Powtoon: Make video, drive sales, increase awesomeness.

Part of the humor is the incongruity of our subject matter and the video. Our message begins with ‘Turn the radio up.” A perfectly logical thing to say when people hear a great song and want to jam out a little. Then comes the turn — we delete “radio” and replace it with “video.” With only five words, we’ve connected the emotions of the video with Powtoon, and we’ve done it in a strange way that inspires a sense of curiosity. The audience might be thinking, “Can you even turn video up? What does that mean? Wait, maybe this ad isn’t about car stereos after all. I wonder what’s coming next!”

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The middle section of the text should focus on benefits. Your first piece of text has done the job to grab attention and build interest. Hitting the benefits that matter most to your audience next will build a desire in them to take action. We opted to keep our headbanging idea (now connecting the joy of headbanging to a great song with our brand), and one of the things we know matters most to marketers: turnaround time. Emotional achievement while overcoming pain points.

In our last slide, we expose our logo and the name of the company and we have a clear call to action (CTA): Make video, drive sales, increase awesomeness. Including a specific CTA is essential. You’ve done all this work to win over your audience — now tell them exactly what to do next.

A quick note: the conventional wisdom is to expose your brand identity as quickly as possible — certainly within the first 3–5 seconds. But that doesn’t always need to be a logo, and it doesn’t necessarily need to be in the video itself. A great benefit of advertising on Facebook is that you also have surrounding text, brand identity, and a CTA button in the format of the ad. Finding a creative way to include your brand in the video is definitely best, because customers can smell ham-fisted brand placement a mile away.

Step 3: Music & Thumbnails

This step is important, and easy to overlook. The vast majority of Facebook videos are viewed with the sound off. So from the perspective of grabbing attention, music will not be your primary concern. BUT, you do want music that helps tell your story, because if you’ve done your job right, your audience won’t be able to help but turning on the sound. Be sure you find a music track that fits the emotions you’re trying to draw out in your audience.

Thumbnails are a particularly annoying thing that actually make a big difference. The thumbnail you choose for a video on a platform like YouTube will act as the front of the box, if you will, for your content. Being able to communicate a brand message and accurately identify the content is key here. But on Facebook, the thumbnail will be less important as a branding tool. You will want to choose a thumbnail that contributes to the attractiveness of your ad and inspires curiosity. The thumbnail we choose for our 6%-CTR ad shows someone’s head in mid-bang. What’s going on isn’t exactly clear. Is it a car crash? A stiff wind? You’ll have to watch to find out.

One last note: Facebook has some very specific requirements for video thumbnails, and they will not approve your ads if you don’t comply to their requirements. Just remember to keep any text to less than 20% of your thumbnail. If you want to review Facebook’s guidelines for images in ads, check them out here.

Creating Video Ads that Move The Needle

Video ads that actually bring results are ads that connect with your audience. It’s that simple. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. In my next post, I sit down with Powtoon’s PPC manager to discuss how you can know if your ad is succeeding, and how to optimize and iterate to keep growing your results. Stay tuned, and in the meantime, make your own video ad today!

Original article published here

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