Video ads succeed or fail within seconds

Video ads succeed or fail within seconds

The use of digital video ads is growing in Canada and will likely do so for years. But marketers and advertisers must be wondering how effective those ads are.

Research firm eMarketer reports that video ad spending in Canada reached $424.9 million in 2017, a hike of 18.1 per cent from the previous year. That’s 8.7 per cent of total digital ad spending.

The eMarketer report projects spending will reach $711.6 million by 2021, or 8.9 per cent of total digital ad spending.

video ads

Advertisers want to know if their money is being put to good use. Another eMarketer report on video ad performance provided numbers for desktop and mobile devices:

  • On-screen rate – Desktop, 69.6 per cent; Mobile, 62 per cent (On-screen rate is the percentage of impressions where at least one pixel of the ad was in-view with focus.)
  • Fully on-screen rate (no time minimum) – Desktop, 55.2 per cent; Mobile, 51.8 per cent (Fully on-screen rate is the percentage of impressions where the ad surface was fully on-screen for a given period of time.)
  • Played in-view rate – Desktop, 78.8 per cent; Mobile, 65.8 per cent (Played in-view rate is how much of the video users watched – i.e., in-view time divided by average ad duration.)
  • Completion rate – Desktop, 61.3 per cent; Mobile, 42.2 per cent. (Completion rate is the percentage of measurable impressions where the ad played to completion.)


The numbers tell us that less than two-thirds of video ads are seen to completion on desktop devices and less than 43 per cent are seen to completion on mobile devices.

video ads metrics

Ian Hewetson, vice-president client services with Eyereturn Marketing, says video is always in demand. That’s because advertisers like to repurpose existing video assets without too much cost and effort. Engagement is also perceived to be better with video, especially combined with a cost-per-completed view. And, of course, there’s simply more of a canvas to tell a brand story using full motion video with sound.

Hewetson says YouTube is the most popular video platform, but Facebook, Instagram, Snap and Twitter are trying hard to sell their video offerings to advertisers.

“Each one of these platforms have their good and bad points,” he says. “YouTube delivers unrivalled scale, but it’s very much a walled garden, so you’re not going to pull out much in the way of data from your media. And there have been highly publicized brand safety issues like advertisers showing up adjacent to ISIS recruitment videos.”

There are a few best practices to ensure a video ad is reaching its target audience.

Brevity is key. Videos must be kept as short as 15 to 30 seconds. The message must be clear, succinct and to the point. The video also needs to be punchy enough to keep people watching until the end.

But Jeff Bradshaw, president and CEO of V Strategies, says the first eight seconds of a video ad are critical.

“You’ve got to grab their attention within that first five to eight seconds or you have no hope,” says Bradshaw.

“And once you’ve grabbed their attention you’ve got to try and quickly connect on an emotional level to be able to give them a reason to pay more attention.” Bradshaw says the emotional connect could be humour or imagery that resonates with the audience.

“From there you’ve got to share a story with them. Tell a story in a short amount of time that will mean something to them.”

Bradshaw says videos need to deliver their key message within the first few seconds. Even if people skip the ads, they will have a lasting impression for those initial seconds.

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