Tips for Better Facebook Video Ads

Do your Facebook ads contain video? Looking for ways to enhance your Facebook advertising with video? Video ads are among the most powerful Facebook ad formats for generating user engagement.

If you’re not using Facebook Video Ads, you’re missing the boat. Our friends at Social Media Marketing have recently defined six tips for using video in your Facebook ad campaigns.

#1: Make an Impact in the First Few Seconds

Considering how many posts people see in their Facebook news feeds, it’s impossible to read and interact with all of them. For that reason, they make a quick decision about whether a post is worth paying attention to.

Video Ads are no different. To be effective, video ads have to accomplish two things: grab the user’s attention in 2-3 seconds and have a short duration, probably no more than 20 seconds total.

Unfortunately, many video ads don’t successfully do this, which results in low engagement and poor outcomes. Analyzing the Audience Retention for the organic videos can be seen through Analysis of the results.  If you are having trouble analyzing your data, contact PTC Computer Solutions and we’ll help you figure out what the data is telling you.

With videos in general, not just on Facebook, most of the time, audience retention drops after a few seconds.  Here are some of the common causes for low audience retention:

  • Including an intro
  • Using logos or credits at the beginning
  • Trying to tell too much in the video
  • Having a person talking to the camera without context

To create an effective video ad, you need to make an impact in the first few seconds. Show viewers something that will make them curious so they want to watch what happens next.

Of course, you need to deliver your message quickly. If you can’t explain the concept in a few seconds, end the video with a cliffhanger and prompt users to watch more at your website.  Teaser videos, much like movie trailers, are effective in getting people to seek further information.

#2: Pique Interest With the Thumbnail

When creating a video ad, keep in mind that many Facebook users have deactivated the autoplay option on their mobile devices. So they need to click on your video ad to make it play. To encourage them, trigger curiosity with your thumbnail. Facebook lets you choose from a range of images randomly selected from the video. If you don’t find any of these images engaging enough, you can upload your own image for the thumbnail. To do so, upload or select the video you want to use in your ad and then click on the Custom Thumbnail area.

For best rendering, choose a thumbnail that has the same aspect ratio as videos, which is 16:9 or 1:1 for square videos. This is different from the 1:1.91 ratio recommended for links. And for thumbnails, images with a lot of text will get a lower priority for delivery. This also applies to thumbnails for video ads.  Be on point and concise.

#3: Create Multiple Video Audiences

Creating custom audiences from videos is not new. For some time, you could create two audiences from users watching your video based on the following criteria: users who watched at least 3 seconds of the video and users who watched at least 95% of your video. These custom audiences were effective and could be used in a variety of ways. However, there were some issues. For example, the video needed to have at least 1,000 plays in a 24-hour period, which was not easy for advertisers with small budgets.

Fortunately, Facebook has updated this feature. You can now create custom audiences from video based on the following levels of engagement:

  • 3 seconds watched
  • 10 seconds watched
  • 25% watched
  • 50% watched
  • 75% watched
  • 95% watched

Best of all, you can combine multiple levels of engagement across multiple videos to create a more effective custom audience. For example, you can create a custom audience for people who watched more than 50% of some videos, 95% of others, and so on. Combining these video audiences lets you create an effective custom audience that can be used for retargeting. Further, you can use these custom audiences to create effective lookalike audiences.

With Facebook Audience Insights, you can also analyze the custom audience and get more insights about the users engaging with your content.

#4: Optimize for Video Views to Get Maximum Reach

When you build a campaign, you choose an objective that helps you optimize delivery. Video ads by themselves are not an objective, but rather a format. As such, you can run video ads to generate conversions, drive traffic, get post engagement, increase reach, and of course, get video views.

However, because the bulk of traffic generation and conversion campaigns use the link or carousel formats, Facebook has more user data for these combinations than for video ads. This makes it more difficult for the algorithm to find users who will click on a video ad to go to a website, so you might experience a slower ad delivery and reach of your campaign.

You can eliminate this problem by choosing to set Video Views as the ad objective. Facebook can more easily identify users who are likely to watch the video, which will help increase the reach of your campaign.  Choosing Video Views as the objective makes it easier for Facebook to find users who are likely to watch the video.

There’s another benefit to choosing the Video Views objective. If your campaign objective is to generate clicks and conversions, Facebook will show the ad to users who are likely to click on a link (rather than users who are likely to watch the video). So it’s common to have very low video retention because users are likely to click on a link without watching the video.

When optimizing for video views, however, Facebook will try to find users who are likely to watch as much of your video as possible. This will let you create better video audiences.

#5: Use Video in Link and Carousel Ads

If your goal is to drive traffic to an external website, videos can help make your link or carousel ads stand out from the crowd.

Most users are accustomed to link or carousel ads that show only static images, and video ads that show only video clips. However, using videos in your link or carousel ads lets you combine the best of both features. You can include more information in your video with headlines, call-to-action buttons, link descriptions, and more.

In addition, you can use multiple videos in a carousel ad and include some visual storytelling in the campaign. Create carousel ads to use more than one video is a single ad post.

In either case, it’s important to make the video short. Rather than trying to provide a lot of content in the video, the idea is to use the video as an attention-grabber. You can do this regardless of the campaign objective you’re using.

#6: Target Mobile Devices Only When Connected to WiFi

As mentioned before, many users have deactivated the autoplay option to save data on their mobile plans. However, there’s also a consideration for users who have not deactivated autoplay. If their connection is slow, your video may stop playing. This creates a bad experience for viewers, and they may stop engaging with the ad. In other words, you’ll pay for an impression/click that got wasted.

Fortunately, you can easily avoid these issues by targeting mobile devices only when they’re connected to WiFi. To do this, select the placement at the Ad Set level of your campaign. You can have your ads appear to mobile users only when they’re connected to WiFi.

Some people believe that this option may reduce the potential reach of their campaigns, but that’s not true. If you use Facebook’s Estimated Daily Reach tool, you can see for yourself that selecting the WiFi-only option does not make a significant difference in the estimated reach.


Regardless of the campaign objective, placement, targeting, and other factors, it’s important that your video ad is simple and concise. Short videos are not only more likely to be watched completely, but also work as cliffhangers that will trigger the viewer’s curiosity.

What do you think? How have Facebook video ads worked for you? Have you seen any good examples of video ads that grabbed your attention? Do you watch videos when using a mobile device?

David W. B. Parker
September, 2016
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