3 Ways to Build Stories With Short-Form Video Ads

Megan Haller Jul 2017 Video

Short-form ads can pack a powerful punch for your video marketing strategy, especially when used with full-length ads. But how should you think about the role that short ads play in your larger campaign story—and how should you combine them with longer formats? Here’s a framework to help.

These days, there’s considerable momentum around short-form ads, and for good reason: They’re built to capture attention in a mobile world while offering a new canvas for delivering innovative brand experiences.

But new ad formats give rise to new questions: What role should short-form video ads play in YouTube campaigns, particularly when you’re already seeing success with longer-form ads?

Think of short-form ads as a powerful new tool for orchestrating your brand stories. On TV, you may use a :30 ad to tell your full story in addition to a :15 version to improve reach and frequency, reinforce your message, and reduce overall campaign costs. On YouTube, you can use a similar blend, pairing :06 bumper ads with a longer format like Google Preferred or TrueView.  

There are three simple, impactful use cases for orchestrating your campaign story with short- and long-form ads: tease, amplify, echo. Within a single campaign, you can rely on one or multiple uses to deliver brand impact.

Tease Amplify Echo

Tease: Seed an idea to intrigue your audience

When was the last time you were drawn in by a teaser for the next episode of your favorite show? If you’re anything like me, it’s a regular occurrence. Bumper ads can act as a similar device for your video marketing—a way to pique your audience’s interest ahead of an upcoming campaign, product launch, or announcement. Seed the idea in :06, then reveal it with a longer story a few weeks later. This approach can also help set your campaigns up for success. In a recent study, we saw that nine in 10 bumper ads drove a lift in ad recall.1

KFC used short-form ads to tease the launch of a new menu item in Malaysia. The company released this bumper ad to build buzz, awareness, and appetite among its audience. Then, several weeks later, it indulged viewers with a TrueView unboxing ad revealing its Super Jimat Box meal.  

KFC bumper ad that teased a longer TrueView ad

Amplify: Run short- and long-form ads simultaneously for incremental reach and impact

Since short-form ads drive incremental reach, running them at the same time as long-form ads is a great way to add to or extend your campaign’s key message. This approach can also drive results. Our research has shown that pairing bumper ads with TrueView or Google Preferred ads can improve upper funnel metrics like ad recall.

For example, we saw that TrueView paid views followed by bumper ads produced a significantly higher lift on ad recall versus TrueView ads alone.2 Similarly, viewers exposed to bumper ads, in addition to ads on Google Preferred, showed a higher rate of ad recall than those exposed to ads on Google Preferred alone.3

Viewers exposed to bumper ads, in addition to ads on Google Preferred, showed a higher rate of ad recall than those exposed to ads on Google Preferred alone.

In practice, this can take many forms. Your short-form ads may be a condensed version of your longer story, or you might customize them to reach specific audiences through contextual targeting. Campbell’s Soup Company took the latter approach for its “SoupTube” campaign in Australia.

To amplify its :15 ad, the company created hundreds of variations of :06 ads to run as additional media. Using audience targeting, Campbell’s delivered contextually relevant :06 ads to users by matching its product message with trending YouTube videos. For example, users searching for Pokémon Go were shown this ad where they were asked, “Legs hurt from walking around?”, while users searching the unexpected outcome of a soccer match saw this version which said, “Had your money on England?” By building a series of :06 stories that offered different facets of its message, Campbell’s shows that short-form ads can provide powerful touches to boost the longer story.

Campbell’s bumper ad after someone watched a soccer video

Echo: Reinforce your message to spur action

Six-second ads are effective at delivering punchy reminders to your audience as your TrueView or Google Preferred campaign winds down. Depending on your goals, echoing longer-form stories with bumper ads can also inspire viewers to take action and extend the impact of your campaign.

An easy, proven way to do this is with remarketing. Our tests have shown that remarketing to viewers who had seen TrueView ads with bumper ads produced a significantly higher lift in ad recall versus TrueView alone, with an average lift 42% higher for skipped views and 104% higher for paid views.4

Remarketing to viewers who had seen TrueView ads with bumper ads produced a significantly higher lift in ad recall versus TrueView alone.

Leading European food company Danone NL recently took this approach with a video campaign designed to drive awareness, recall, and consideration for its cottage cheese brand, Hüttenkäse.

Danone NL launched full-length stories through TrueView ads, featuring a series of women sharing their favorite ways to eat Hüttenkäse cottage cheese. The brand later remarketed viewers of its longer ads with :06 follow-on messages, recapping the recipe ideas they had previously seen. This approach delivered sizable impact for Hüttenkäse: It saw 400% uplift in brand interest among TrueView viewers who were remarketed with a :06 ad versus TrueView viewers only.5

Ready to put tease, amplify, or echo to use in your campaign? Be sure to check out these tips for building effective short-form ad creative.


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