The golden rules of online video advert design

Phil O’Neill, director of analytics at VideoEgg, gives Marketing Week his advice to brands on how to design effective video ads.

Phil O Neill
Phil O Neill

The widely covered news that online video ad spend is on the up is hugely encouraging for the advertising industry. Forrester predicts that rich media and video advertising will account for 59% of European online display ad spending by 2013. In what seems a self-fulfilling prophecy, studies released in the last month boldly state that online video ad spend is now poised to double in a mere year.

Before the recent reports trigger another wave of brands rushing to jump on the online video ad bandwagon, it is necessary to take a step back and consider the medium. It is all too easy to get lost in the video ad hype, taking a scattergun approach and releasing ads left, right and centre. Video adverts should be carefully designed using fresh delivery approaches, which immerse consumers in the brand’s message in an entertaining and enjoyable format.

This is still nascent territory. The rules of traditional display adverts don’t apply; the rules of TV adverts don’t apply. A new set of design principles is key. After helping numerous well-known brands such as Nike, BBC, Coca Cola, EA Games, Sony and Virgin to develop engaging online video ads, we’ve come up with a set of simple design principles to get the most out of this medium.

1. The web is not the same as TV

As flash ads succeeded static banner ads in the past, view-only video ads will be replaced by those with rich media content. In this interactive, on-demand world, a one-way stream of video information to the consumer won’t cut it. Even traditional television adverts no longer simply push information to the consumer; the obligatory ‘red-button’ control and inclusion of user-made footage (such as in the recent TalkTalk adverts) mean that advertising content is controlled in both directions.

Similarly, online video ads need a “push-pull” of content. The web is interactive; therefore online video ads need to be interactive too. When the consumer encounters an experience they are interested in, they will want to explore all the included content. Your audience will spend more time with the brand’s message if they can become immersed in, and engage with, the content. Including functions such as multiple videos, Twitter feeds, maps and product merchandising in a video ad increases interaction rate, the time spent with the ad and ultimately drives impact to the bottom line.

2. Clarity is key

Advertisers should strive to create a clear experience for users. Upfront menus and simple to use navigation buttons result in a far more positive experience than ad units that confuse users. In an era of disaggregated information delivered through multiple channels and complex click-through content, designing highly functional, streamlined ad experiences creates a hassle-free experience the user can really enjoy.

3. Creative content, creative delivery

While clarity is important, creativity should not be sacrificed. It remains crucial to have good video content, retaining imaginative footage whilst using innovative deployment methods and fresh applications. The key is that the content is compelling. For example, a campaign that VideoEgg ran included an excellent animated short film, which skyrocketed time spent with the ad to 90 seconds – three times that of the traditional TV advertising spot.

An entertaining video draws consumers in. Interactive features prolong their stay. These easy-to-follow principles will help advertisers create online video ads that do not simply deliver a message, but immerse consumers in the brand. Online video ads have so much to offer the advertising industry if developed and packaged in the correct way. Let’s not rush in. Get creative and make an experience that will truly engage the consumer.

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