September 28, 2023

Video advertising: A beginner’s guide

If you’re running video advertising for your business, this guide is for you. Learn how to run video ads with high ROI.
September 28, 2023

Video advertising: A beginner’s guide

If you’re running video advertising for your business, this guide is for you. Learn how to run video ads with high ROI.
September 28, 2023
Vivian Tejeda
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Video advertising has surged in popularity, and for good reason: people love video content. Some nine out of 10 consumers report they'd like to see more online videos from brands, according to a survey from Wyzowl. 

That’s probably why you see video ads everywhere you look online. The preference for video content is more than just a trend. It's a fundamental shift in how businesses operate today. 

With video ads, you can easily capture your audience’s attention, increase brand awareness, and ultimately, make more money. 

If you're considering video ads, this is your roadmap to creating them—from planning your campaigns to reporting on success.

What is video advertising?

Video advertising uses video content to promote a brand, product, or service. Unlike traditional advertising mediums like print, digital banner ads, or radio, video advertising combines visuals, sound, and storytelling to transmit a powerful message. 

With video advertising, it's not just about showcasing your product—it's about engaging your audience and eliciting emotion (the right ones). You can find video ads across social media, YouTube, and Google Ads.

Mastering video advertising doesn’t happen overnight. It takes skill and plenty of practice to produce high-quality work. Why? Influential video creators have a deep understanding of multiple things: their target audience, clear messaging, what video edits and trends are popular, and the best tools for the job. 

The rise of digital video advertising

By the 1950s, television replaced radio as the main platform where advertisers could distribute their content. At the time, it was a great way for businesses to reach a large audience. Back then, the focus was on mass communication, and the metrics for success were pretty basic. Marketers had to rely on stats like viewer ratings and general brand awareness to understand whether their ads were successful.

Then came the internet. YouTube and social media platforms provided a new playground for advertisers. They made it possible to create video ad campaigns with more defined targeting. Now, businesses reach specific demographics with a lot more precision. 

Video ad metrics also became more sophisticated, shifting from mere viewership numbers to key performance indicators that give marketers a much better idea of how their ad is performing, such as:

  • Engagement rates
  • Click-through rates
  • Conversion metrics 
  • Views
  • View-through rate (VTR)
  • Reach
  • Watch time

Today, video advertising is a staple in any comprehensive marketing strategy. According to Statista, in 2022, online video ad spend amounted to almost $75 billion in the U.S., accounting for nearly 30% of total display ad spend worldwide. 

Benefits and advantages of video advertising

Let’s look at all the upside brands stand to gain with a solid video advertising strategy and why it matters. 

Higher engagement and attention

Video advertising is excellent at capturing viewer attention, especially on social media platforms, because high-quality video content engages multiple senses. In other words, video is more likely to stop people while scrolling through their social media feeds than a static image would.

Social media algorithms know this and use it to their advantage. Many sites—including Facebook and Instagram—push video content more than standard images. Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, even says the platform is "no longer just a square photo-sharing app."

Enhanced brand awareness

Brands can use different ad formats to curate their image across multiple channels. Whether it's a short video on social media or a more comprehensive YouTube ad, the sky's the limit with how creative your video content can be. This also increases the chances of finding a marketing combination that appeals to your target audience. 

Improved conversions and sales

Did you know that 85% of the global population now owns a mobile device? Video optimized for mobile views has become essential to any video ad campaign since just about everyone can access a smartphone. 

Screen Time says we spend over three hours on our phones daily. We also reportedly spend over $349 billion through our smartphones each year, making mobile video ads one of the best ways to capture markets and build an audience. 

Effective storytelling and emotional connection

Video marketing is an excellent format for storytelling. It allows you to convey complex messages in an emotionally engaging way, especially if your audience sees someone relatable talk about the challenges they're facing. This emotional connection adds to long-term customer loyalty and helps you create a die-hard fanbase. 

Versatility across platforms

The adaptability of video advertising formats—from banner to out-stream and display advertising—allows for a tailored advertising strategy. Video ads can be optimized for different platforms, demographics, and mobile apps. This matters because the right ad format can really impact your ad revenue. 

Challenges, drawbacks, and limitations of video advertising

As great as video advertising can be, it does come with some drawbacks. 

Limited attention span

In an era of information overload, capturing and retaining the viewer's attention is a big challenge. Even if you take the time to create a super engaging video, you're competing against millions of distractions. Add in the fact that our attention spans are shrinking, and you'll see why video advertising isn't getting any easier. 

The rise of short video formats on platforms like TikTok and even the onset of YouTube Shorts are forcing marketers to find better ways to deliver a message in seconds—not minutes. You risk losing potential customers if your video doesn't hook your audience quickly.

Technical challenges

Producing a video ad campaign involves multiple technical elements, including cameras, lighting, sound, editing, and formatting for each platform. Tackling technical challenges can be expensive without the right tools, especially for businesses on a tight budget. 

Professional video editing tools like Descript alleviate this problem, since you can use the app’s automatic transcription to edit your videos like a Google Doc. 

Image of Descript’s collaborative video editing features

Ad fatigue

When potential customers repeatedly see the same video ads, they quickly learn to ignore them and scroll right past. This is particularly true on social media platforms where content consumption happens fast. Ad fatigue not only lowers engagement rates, but can also negatively affect your brand's perception.

Prioritize testing fresh video ideas that keep audiences engaged. If people are exhausted by your coffee roasting video, for example, follow up with the same audience and give them a second video explaining how to find the best roast. 

Limited accessibility

Not all video content is accessible to every viewer. Whether it's due to language barriers, hearing impairments, or limited internet bandwidth, your video ads may not reach a portion of your target audience. 

This can be important depending on your brand and your product or service. Subtitles, translations, and optimized video formats for limited accessibility scenarios are essential.

Algorithm dependency

While algorithms can help your video reach a massive audience, they can also be a limitation. Changes in search engines or social media algorithms happen often. Just take TikTok's latest change to their feed as an example. Users can now refresh their feeds and retrain their algorithm whenever they want. 

Whether you're running a paid or organic video ad strategy, the reality is that social platforms require a dynamic approach. You need to constantly monitor metrics and test new video formats to see what's working best. 

Types of video ads

Laying the foundation for a successful video advertising strategy starts with understanding the different types of video ads you can create. Each type serves a specific purpose and works best in certain contexts. Here's a breakdown of the most common types of video ads and how to best use them.

1. In-stream ads

In-stream ads play before, during, or after other video content. These are the ads you've seen on platforms like YouTube. In-stream ads effectively capture an audience that was already watching a video anyway. You can use them to target an existing viewer's attention to introduce your brand or product.

2. Out-stream ads

Out-stream ads are video ads that play outside of traditional video content. Unlike in-stream ads, which require a video to play, out-stream ads can appear on web pages with text-based content or between content blocks.

As users scroll through a webpage, out-stream ads automatically start playing when they become visible. They help reach people not actively seeking video content, making them a superb video advertising format to capture attention less intrusively, especially on news sites or blogs.

3. Pre-roll ads

Pre-roll ads are a subtype of in-stream ads that play before the main video starts. They're short, often lasting only 15 to 30 seconds, making them less likely to annoy viewers. But because they're the first thing the viewer sees, pre-roll ads with a great hook effectively deliver quick, effective messages that capture attention before the main video. 

4. Mid-roll ads

Mid-roll ads appear during the video, typically at natural breaks in the content. They can range from 30 seconds to even a minute. 

According to Insider Intelligence, mid-roll ads are the second most lucrative ad types on YouTube, accounting for 1.10% conversion rates as of Q2 2022. This is ​​because viewers are already engaged with the content.

Use this type of video ad when you want to present more information and can afford to take more time without losing the viewer's attention.

5. Post-roll ads

Post-roll ads play after the main video has ended. They're ideal if your video ad has a strong call to action because post-roll ads don't interrupt the viewer's experience. According to the same Insider Intelligence report, post-roll ads have the lowest conversion rate by far, at only 0.83%. That’s probably due to listeners dropping off at the end of their chosen video.

6. Native video ads

Native video ads blend in with the platform's regular content, which makes them seem less intrusive. You can find native ads in social media feeds, which can often be mistaken for "regular" content. Use native video ads to integrate your message naturally within the user's browsing experience.

Online video advertising stats and trends

Understanding the current trends in online video advertising is crucial for staying ahead of the curve. Here's a look at some of the biggest industry trends.

Video advertising has a high ROI

According to Statista, 39% of marketers reported short-form video ads brought in the highest return on investment (ROI), followed by 16% reporting long-form video as their more profitable strategy.

Return on investment for video advertising consistently outperforms other digital marketing channels, including live streams and webinars. According to HubSpot, a whopping 54% of consumers prefer video ads. Wyzowl also reports about 79% of people say they've been persuaded to buy software or an app because of a video.  

Video format ROI study by HubSpot shown via Statista

Video length differs from platform to platform

The optimal length for video ads varies depending on the platform—and tends to vary by year. 

Here’s a quick list of each major platform and the latest video lengths they recommend: 

  • Meta: According to Meta, more people watch a video until the end if it’s 15 seconds or less. 
  • TikTok: Internal information given to creators suggested they keep their videos anywhere from 21-34 seconds long—and that number seems to be increasing year over year. 
  • Snapchat: Snapchat’s business center highlights that video ads between 3-5 seconds on their platform often drive action. 
  • YouTube: While YouTube video lengths vary by a lot, there’s some data on what length is best based on a few specifics laid out by Google.
  • Instagram: Instagram shares that brand messaging should be shared within the first three seconds of a feed or Reel video ad. 

Viewers prefer using their mobile devices to watch video ads

Mobile devices are the go-to for consuming video content. About 90% of video views happen on phones—which can only mean mobile device users prefer it that way. 

Companies are devoting more resources to video advertising

About 70% of marketers who don’t use video ads report plans to start using them. The upward trend in ad spend on video advertising is unmistakable—companies are seeing more return per dollar spent when focusing on a video ad strategy. 

How to create video ads in 4 steps

According to Wyzowl, 38% of marketers say videos have become easier to make in-house. And it’s no wonder—tools like Descript make the video creation and editing process as easy as editing a document. 

1. Define your objectives and audience

Before you even pick up a camera, know what you want to achieve with your video ad. Who is your target audience? What action do you want them to take? Are you looking to increase brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, or boost sales? 

Once you've pinpointed your end goal, you can start brainstorming video concepts and storyboarding each clip. With your objectives and audience defined, list what you'll need to bring your video to life. For example, this can include: 

  • Voiceover audio
  • A script
  • Actors
  • Effects
  • Props

2. Concept and storyboard

Once you have a clear objective and know your audience, developing your concept is next. Create a storyboard to outline the flow of your video. 

Descript offers a scriptwriting feature that can help you draft and align your video's script with each video clip in your storyboard. It'll ensure your message stays focused and hits all the key points, making the storyboarding process much faster. 

3. Production and editing

The more centralized your editing process, the less resource-intensive it has to be. Tools like Descript help you get the job done—and there’s no huge learning curve. The platform is designed to be as intuitive and easy to use as possible.

Descript’s templates eliminate the need to start your video ads from scratch. You can use one of the many built-in templates, or create your own and save them for later.

You can also edit the video by editing the text in the transcript. This makes cutting, rearranging, or inserting new scenes easier to perfect your video ad. For example, if you’re introducing a new topic, use the “/” key to break your script into a new scene, and then arrange visuals the same way you’d work with slides. Easy, right? 

Image of Descript interface where user is making video content

Plus, if your video requires voiceover, AI-powered tools like Overdub create an incredibly realistic clone of your voice. Just type in your script, and boom—your video now has a voiceover added. 

4. Optimize for distribution

Your video ad is ready, but your work isn't done yet. Now you need to prepare it for distribution. Different social media platforms have preferred content formats. Vertical videos, for example, suit the smartphone users that dominate social media platforms, whereas YouTube formats its long-form content horizontally. 

Descript can export your video in several formats, sizes, and ratios, making it easier to optimize for different platforms. To export or publish a video from Descript:

  1. Open your video project
  2. Click Publish in the top right corner of the editor
  3. Select the file type or platform you will be exporting to
  4. Adjust export or publishing settings to your liking
  5. Click the blue Export button at the bottom of the Publish panel
Preparing to export a video with Descript

Video advertising KPIs to keep an eye on

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are crucial for measuring the success of your video advertising campaign. Here are five video advertising metrics to keep an eye on: 

View-through rate 

View-through rate (VTR) measures the number of complete views your video receives divided by the number of initial impressions. It indicates how many people found your video engaging enough to watch it through to the end.

Example: Out of 1,000 impressions, 200 people actually watch your entire video from start to finish. This means your VTR would be 20%.

Formula: VTR = (200/1,000) x 100

Click-through rate 

Click-through rate (CTR) is the ratio of users who click on a call-to-action in your video to the number of total viewers. It gives you an idea of how effectively your video encourages viewers to take action.  

Example: Out of those 1,000 impressions, 50 people clicked on the ad to learn more about the laptop. This means your CTR is 5%.

Formula: CTR = (50/1,000) x 100

Conversion rate

Conversion rate is the percentage of viewers who take a desired action after watching your video. This can be anything from purchasing to signing up for a newsletter. It indicates the effectiveness of your ad and the entirety of your funnel.

Example: Out of those 100 visitors, 10 decide to make a purchase. Using our formula below, your conversion rate is 10%.

Formula: Conversion rate = (10/100) x 100

Impressions and reach

Impressions are the number of times your video is displayed, whether or not someone actually engages with it. Reach, conversely, represents the total number of unique viewers who have actually seen your video. Both are important, as they give you an idea of how visible your video is at any given time. 

Return on investment (ROI)

Return on investment measures how profitable your video advertising campaigns are. You calculate ROI by dividing the net campaign profit by the total cost. This number lets you know exactly how successful your video ads were and how much you earned per dollar spent. 

Example: You invest $1,000 and generate $3,000 in sales. This means your ROI would be 200%.

Formula: ROI = ($3,000 / $1,000) x 100

Video advertising tips and best practices

Let's look into some video ad tips to ensure you get the most out of your video advertising efforts. 

1. Understand your audience and goals

Before creating a video ad, have a clear understanding of who your audience is and what your goals are. Your goal is to align your video content with your audience's interests and business objectives for maximum impact. 

For example, if your target audience is busy young adults interested in fitness and nutrition, a video showing how your product gives them more time for self-care can do the trick. 

2. Tell a compelling story

A story engages the audience and makes your message memorable. For instance, instead of just showcasing your product's features, create a narrative where your product solves a problem or improves the viewer's life. A well-crafted story can evoke emotions that drive engagement and, ultimately, conversions.

3. Keep it concise and attention-grabbing

In a world of short attention spans, your video needs to get to the point quickly. Social media users often make split-second decisions on whether to engage with the content they see or continue scrolling. Using eye-catching visuals, provocative statements, or intriguing questions in the first few seconds can be effective strategies to grab their attention.

4. Optimize for mobile viewing

With most viewers watching video ads on mobile devices, your video needs to be optimized for mobile viewing. This means guaranteeing the text is legible, the visuals are clear, and the video is easy to see on smaller screens. Use larger text and close-up shots to ensure mobile viewers can easily understand your video content and read the corresponding text. 

5. A/B testing and data analysis

Never settle for your first video. Use A/B testing to try out different video versions to see which one performs better in engagement and conversions. 

For example, you could test two different CTAs or opening scenes to see which resonates more with your audience. Analyze the data to understand what's working and needs improvement, then assign more budget to the best-performing video. 

Inspiring video advertising examples

Learning from successful video ads can provide valuable insights for your campaigns. Some iconic ads have set the standard for what's possible in video advertising.

Apple: "1984" (1984)

The video ad is a classic example of storytelling and emotional engagement. It broke the mold of traditional advertising by presenting a narrative that captured the imagination of its audience. The ad positioned Apple as a revolutionary brand, setting the stage for its future success—an excellent example of how to use storytelling to create a lasting impact through video advertising.

Nike: "Dream Crazy" (2018)

Nike's "Dream Crazy" aligns the brand with something its audience can relate to—in this case, the power of ambition. It effectively uses real-life stories to resonate with its target audience and elicit their emotion. It’s a perfect example of how aligning your brand with broader social or cultural themes can create a deep emotional connection with your audience.

Dove: "Real Beauty Sketches" (2013)

Dove's ad is a compelling video advertising example of how to engage your audience emotionally by addressing issues that matter to them—and its product wasn’t even the main part of the video. The ad was not just about promoting a product but about starting a conversation people then associate with the brand, making it sticky and relatable to its primary users: women.  

Always: "Like a Girl" (2014)

The "Like a Girl" campaign by Always tackles gender stereotypes head-on. It challenges preconceived notions by using everyday people to make its point. It’s a great example of how a less polished approach to video can be effective. 

Make professional video ads with Descript in seconds

It's possible to master video advertising and stand out on social media platforms with Descript's video editing software. With easy-to-use editing tools and customizable templates, you can create consistent, engaging video content that will catch attention, captivate your audience, and build your brand. 

Thousands of creators and marketers are already using Descript as part of their video creation workflow. Ready to join them? Take a tour of Descript today.

Vivian Tejeda
Vivian is a content marketer who loves writing, creativity, and is obsessed with the art of storytelling. Her free time is taken up by learning golf, reading books, and touching grass.
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Video advertising: A beginner’s guide

multiple computers with a video on the screen

Video advertising has surged in popularity, and for good reason: people love video content. Some nine out of 10 consumers report they'd like to see more online videos from brands, according to a survey from Wyzowl. 

That’s probably why you see video ads everywhere you look online. The preference for video content is more than just a trend. It's a fundamental shift in how businesses operate today. 

With video ads, you can easily capture your audience’s attention, increase brand awareness, and ultimately, make more money. 

If you're considering video ads, this is your roadmap to creating them—from planning your campaigns to reporting on success.

An audio/video editor that includes transcription, screen recording, and publishing.
Check out our useful, powerful tools.

What is video advertising?

Video advertising uses video content to promote a brand, product, or service. Unlike traditional advertising mediums like print, digital banner ads, or radio, video advertising combines visuals, sound, and storytelling to transmit a powerful message. 

With video advertising, it's not just about showcasing your product—it's about engaging your audience and eliciting emotion (the right ones). You can find video ads across social media, YouTube, and Google Ads.

Mastering video advertising doesn’t happen overnight. It takes skill and plenty of practice to produce high-quality work. Why? Influential video creators have a deep understanding of multiple things: their target audience, clear messaging, what video edits and trends are popular, and the best tools for the job. 

The rise of digital video advertising

By the 1950s, television replaced radio as the main platform where advertisers could distribute their content. At the time, it was a great way for businesses to reach a large audience. Back then, the focus was on mass communication, and the metrics for success were pretty basic. Marketers had to rely on stats like viewer ratings and general brand awareness to understand whether their ads were successful.

Then came the internet. YouTube and social media platforms provided a new playground for advertisers. They made it possible to create video ad campaigns with more defined targeting. Now, businesses reach specific demographics with a lot more precision. 

Video ad metrics also became more sophisticated, shifting from mere viewership numbers to key performance indicators that give marketers a much better idea of how their ad is performing, such as:

  • Engagement rates
  • Click-through rates
  • Conversion metrics 
  • Views
  • View-through rate (VTR)
  • Reach
  • Watch time

Today, video advertising is a staple in any comprehensive marketing strategy. According to Statista, in 2022, online video ad spend amounted to almost $75 billion in the U.S., accounting for nearly 30% of total display ad spend worldwide. 

Benefits and advantages of video advertising

Let’s look at all the upside brands stand to gain with a solid video advertising strategy and why it matters. 

Higher engagement and attention

Video advertising is excellent at capturing viewer attention, especially on social media platforms, because high-quality video content engages multiple senses. In other words, video is more likely to stop people while scrolling through their social media feeds than a static image would.

Social media algorithms know this and use it to their advantage. Many sites—including Facebook and Instagram—push video content more than standard images. Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, even says the platform is "no longer just a square photo-sharing app."

Enhanced brand awareness

Brands can use different ad formats to curate their image across multiple channels. Whether it's a short video on social media or a more comprehensive YouTube ad, the sky's the limit with how creative your video content can be. This also increases the chances of finding a marketing combination that appeals to your target audience. 

Improved conversions and sales

Did you know that 85% of the global population now owns a mobile device? Video optimized for mobile views has become essential to any video ad campaign since just about everyone can access a smartphone. 

Screen Time says we spend over three hours on our phones daily. We also reportedly spend over $349 billion through our smartphones each year, making mobile video ads one of the best ways to capture markets and build an audience. 

Effective storytelling and emotional connection

Video marketing is an excellent format for storytelling. It allows you to convey complex messages in an emotionally engaging way, especially if your audience sees someone relatable talk about the challenges they're facing. This emotional connection adds to long-term customer loyalty and helps you create a die-hard fanbase. 

Versatility across platforms

The adaptability of video advertising formats—from banner to out-stream and display advertising—allows for a tailored advertising strategy. Video ads can be optimized for different platforms, demographics, and mobile apps. This matters because the right ad format can really impact your ad revenue. 

Challenges, drawbacks, and limitations of video advertising

As great as video advertising can be, it does come with some drawbacks. 

Limited attention span

In an era of information overload, capturing and retaining the viewer's attention is a big challenge. Even if you take the time to create a super engaging video, you're competing against millions of distractions. Add in the fact that our attention spans are shrinking, and you'll see why video advertising isn't getting any easier. 

The rise of short video formats on platforms like TikTok and even the onset of YouTube Shorts are forcing marketers to find better ways to deliver a message in seconds—not minutes. You risk losing potential customers if your video doesn't hook your audience quickly.

Technical challenges

Producing a video ad campaign involves multiple technical elements, including cameras, lighting, sound, editing, and formatting for each platform. Tackling technical challenges can be expensive without the right tools, especially for businesses on a tight budget. 

Professional video editing tools like Descript alleviate this problem, since you can use the app’s automatic transcription to edit your videos like a Google Doc. 

Image of Descript’s collaborative video editing features

Ad fatigue

When potential customers repeatedly see the same video ads, they quickly learn to ignore them and scroll right past. This is particularly true on social media platforms where content consumption happens fast. Ad fatigue not only lowers engagement rates, but can also negatively affect your brand's perception.

Prioritize testing fresh video ideas that keep audiences engaged. If people are exhausted by your coffee roasting video, for example, follow up with the same audience and give them a second video explaining how to find the best roast. 

Limited accessibility

Not all video content is accessible to every viewer. Whether it's due to language barriers, hearing impairments, or limited internet bandwidth, your video ads may not reach a portion of your target audience. 

This can be important depending on your brand and your product or service. Subtitles, translations, and optimized video formats for limited accessibility scenarios are essential.

Algorithm dependency

While algorithms can help your video reach a massive audience, they can also be a limitation. Changes in search engines or social media algorithms happen often. Just take TikTok's latest change to their feed as an example. Users can now refresh their feeds and retrain their algorithm whenever they want. 

Whether you're running a paid or organic video ad strategy, the reality is that social platforms require a dynamic approach. You need to constantly monitor metrics and test new video formats to see what's working best. 

Types of video ads

Laying the foundation for a successful video advertising strategy starts with understanding the different types of video ads you can create. Each type serves a specific purpose and works best in certain contexts. Here's a breakdown of the most common types of video ads and how to best use them.

1. In-stream ads

In-stream ads play before, during, or after other video content. These are the ads you've seen on platforms like YouTube. In-stream ads effectively capture an audience that was already watching a video anyway. You can use them to target an existing viewer's attention to introduce your brand or product.

2. Out-stream ads

Out-stream ads are video ads that play outside of traditional video content. Unlike in-stream ads, which require a video to play, out-stream ads can appear on web pages with text-based content or between content blocks.

As users scroll through a webpage, out-stream ads automatically start playing when they become visible. They help reach people not actively seeking video content, making them a superb video advertising format to capture attention less intrusively, especially on news sites or blogs.

3. Pre-roll ads

Pre-roll ads are a subtype of in-stream ads that play before the main video starts. They're short, often lasting only 15 to 30 seconds, making them less likely to annoy viewers. But because they're the first thing the viewer sees, pre-roll ads with a great hook effectively deliver quick, effective messages that capture attention before the main video. 

4. Mid-roll ads

Mid-roll ads appear during the video, typically at natural breaks in the content. They can range from 30 seconds to even a minute. 

According to Insider Intelligence, mid-roll ads are the second most lucrative ad types on YouTube, accounting for 1.10% conversion rates as of Q2 2022. This is ​​because viewers are already engaged with the content.

Use this type of video ad when you want to present more information and can afford to take more time without losing the viewer's attention.

5. Post-roll ads

Post-roll ads play after the main video has ended. They're ideal if your video ad has a strong call to action because post-roll ads don't interrupt the viewer's experience. According to the same Insider Intelligence report, post-roll ads have the lowest conversion rate by far, at only 0.83%. That’s probably due to listeners dropping off at the end of their chosen video.

6. Native video ads

Native video ads blend in with the platform's regular content, which makes them seem less intrusive. You can find native ads in social media feeds, which can often be mistaken for "regular" content. Use native video ads to integrate your message naturally within the user's browsing experience.

Online video advertising stats and trends

Understanding the current trends in online video advertising is crucial for staying ahead of the curve. Here's a look at some of the biggest industry trends.

Video advertising has a high ROI

According to Statista, 39% of marketers reported short-form video ads brought in the highest return on investment (ROI), followed by 16% reporting long-form video as their more profitable strategy.

Return on investment for video advertising consistently outperforms other digital marketing channels, including live streams and webinars. According to HubSpot, a whopping 54% of consumers prefer video ads. Wyzowl also reports about 79% of people say they've been persuaded to buy software or an app because of a video.  

Video format ROI study by HubSpot shown via Statista

Video length differs from platform to platform

The optimal length for video ads varies depending on the platform—and tends to vary by year. 

Here’s a quick list of each major platform and the latest video lengths they recommend: 

  • Meta: According to Meta, more people watch a video until the end if it’s 15 seconds or less. 
  • TikTok: Internal information given to creators suggested they keep their videos anywhere from 21-34 seconds long—and that number seems to be increasing year over year. 
  • Snapchat: Snapchat’s business center highlights that video ads between 3-5 seconds on their platform often drive action. 
  • YouTube: While YouTube video lengths vary by a lot, there’s some data on what length is best based on a few specifics laid out by Google.
  • Instagram: Instagram shares that brand messaging should be shared within the first three seconds of a feed or Reel video ad. 

Viewers prefer using their mobile devices to watch video ads

Mobile devices are the go-to for consuming video content. About 90% of video views happen on phones—which can only mean mobile device users prefer it that way. 

Companies are devoting more resources to video advertising

About 70% of marketers who don’t use video ads report plans to start using them. The upward trend in ad spend on video advertising is unmistakable—companies are seeing more return per dollar spent when focusing on a video ad strategy. 

How to create video ads in 4 steps

According to Wyzowl, 38% of marketers say videos have become easier to make in-house. And it’s no wonder—tools like Descript make the video creation and editing process as easy as editing a document. 

1. Define your objectives and audience

Before you even pick up a camera, know what you want to achieve with your video ad. Who is your target audience? What action do you want them to take? Are you looking to increase brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, or boost sales? 

Once you've pinpointed your end goal, you can start brainstorming video concepts and storyboarding each clip. With your objectives and audience defined, list what you'll need to bring your video to life. For example, this can include: 

  • Voiceover audio
  • A script
  • Actors
  • Effects
  • Props

2. Concept and storyboard

Once you have a clear objective and know your audience, developing your concept is next. Create a storyboard to outline the flow of your video. 

Descript offers a scriptwriting feature that can help you draft and align your video's script with each video clip in your storyboard. It'll ensure your message stays focused and hits all the key points, making the storyboarding process much faster. 

3. Production and editing

The more centralized your editing process, the less resource-intensive it has to be. Tools like Descript help you get the job done—and there’s no huge learning curve. The platform is designed to be as intuitive and easy to use as possible.

Descript’s templates eliminate the need to start your video ads from scratch. You can use one of the many built-in templates, or create your own and save them for later.

You can also edit the video by editing the text in the transcript. This makes cutting, rearranging, or inserting new scenes easier to perfect your video ad. For example, if you’re introducing a new topic, use the “/” key to break your script into a new scene, and then arrange visuals the same way you’d work with slides. Easy, right? 

Image of Descript interface where user is making video content

Plus, if your video requires voiceover, AI-powered tools like Overdub create an incredibly realistic clone of your voice. Just type in your script, and boom—your video now has a voiceover added. 

4. Optimize for distribution

Your video ad is ready, but your work isn't done yet. Now you need to prepare it for distribution. Different social media platforms have preferred content formats. Vertical videos, for example, suit the smartphone users that dominate social media platforms, whereas YouTube formats its long-form content horizontally. 

Descript can export your video in several formats, sizes, and ratios, making it easier to optimize for different platforms. To export or publish a video from Descript:

  1. Open your video project
  2. Click Publish in the top right corner of the editor
  3. Select the file type or platform you will be exporting to
  4. Adjust export or publishing settings to your liking
  5. Click the blue Export button at the bottom of the Publish panel
Preparing to export a video with Descript

Video advertising KPIs to keep an eye on

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are crucial for measuring the success of your video advertising campaign. Here are five video advertising metrics to keep an eye on: 

View-through rate 

View-through rate (VTR) measures the number of complete views your video receives divided by the number of initial impressions. It indicates how many people found your video engaging enough to watch it through to the end.

Example: Out of 1,000 impressions, 200 people actually watch your entire video from start to finish. This means your VTR would be 20%.

Formula: VTR = (200/1,000) x 100

Click-through rate 

Click-through rate (CTR) is the ratio of users who click on a call-to-action in your video to the number of total viewers. It gives you an idea of how effectively your video encourages viewers to take action.  

Example: Out of those 1,000 impressions, 50 people clicked on the ad to learn more about the laptop. This means your CTR is 5%.

Formula: CTR = (50/1,000) x 100

Conversion rate

Conversion rate is the percentage of viewers who take a desired action after watching your video. This can be anything from purchasing to signing up for a newsletter. It indicates the effectiveness of your ad and the entirety of your funnel.

Example: Out of those 100 visitors, 10 decide to make a purchase. Using our formula below, your conversion rate is 10%.

Formula: Conversion rate = (10/100) x 100

Impressions and reach

Impressions are the number of times your video is displayed, whether or not someone actually engages with it. Reach, conversely, represents the total number of unique viewers who have actually seen your video. Both are important, as they give you an idea of how visible your video is at any given time. 

Return on investment (ROI)

Return on investment measures how profitable your video advertising campaigns are. You calculate ROI by dividing the net campaign profit by the total cost. This number lets you know exactly how successful your video ads were and how much you earned per dollar spent. 

Example: You invest $1,000 and generate $3,000 in sales. This means your ROI would be 200%.

Formula: ROI = ($3,000 / $1,000) x 100

Video advertising tips and best practices

Let's look into some video ad tips to ensure you get the most out of your video advertising efforts. 

1. Understand your audience and goals

Before creating a video ad, have a clear understanding of who your audience is and what your goals are. Your goal is to align your video content with your audience's interests and business objectives for maximum impact. 

For example, if your target audience is busy young adults interested in fitness and nutrition, a video showing how your product gives them more time for self-care can do the trick. 

2. Tell a compelling story

A story engages the audience and makes your message memorable. For instance, instead of just showcasing your product's features, create a narrative where your product solves a problem or improves the viewer's life. A well-crafted story can evoke emotions that drive engagement and, ultimately, conversions.

3. Keep it concise and attention-grabbing

In a world of short attention spans, your video needs to get to the point quickly. Social media users often make split-second decisions on whether to engage with the content they see or continue scrolling. Using eye-catching visuals, provocative statements, or intriguing questions in the first few seconds can be effective strategies to grab their attention.

4. Optimize for mobile viewing

With most viewers watching video ads on mobile devices, your video needs to be optimized for mobile viewing. This means guaranteeing the text is legible, the visuals are clear, and the video is easy to see on smaller screens. Use larger text and close-up shots to ensure mobile viewers can easily understand your video content and read the corresponding text. 

5. A/B testing and data analysis

Never settle for your first video. Use A/B testing to try out different video versions to see which one performs better in engagement and conversions. 

For example, you could test two different CTAs or opening scenes to see which resonates more with your audience. Analyze the data to understand what's working and needs improvement, then assign more budget to the best-performing video. 

Inspiring video advertising examples

Learning from successful video ads can provide valuable insights for your campaigns. Some iconic ads have set the standard for what's possible in video advertising.

Apple: "1984" (1984)

The video ad is a classic example of storytelling and emotional engagement. It broke the mold of traditional advertising by presenting a narrative that captured the imagination of its audience. The ad positioned Apple as a revolutionary brand, setting the stage for its future success—an excellent example of how to use storytelling to create a lasting impact through video advertising.

Nike: "Dream Crazy" (2018)

Nike's "Dream Crazy" aligns the brand with something its audience can relate to—in this case, the power of ambition. It effectively uses real-life stories to resonate with its target audience and elicit their emotion. It’s a perfect example of how aligning your brand with broader social or cultural themes can create a deep emotional connection with your audience.

Dove: "Real Beauty Sketches" (2013)

Dove's ad is a compelling video advertising example of how to engage your audience emotionally by addressing issues that matter to them—and its product wasn’t even the main part of the video. The ad was not just about promoting a product but about starting a conversation people then associate with the brand, making it sticky and relatable to its primary users: women.  

Always: "Like a Girl" (2014)

The "Like a Girl" campaign by Always tackles gender stereotypes head-on. It challenges preconceived notions by using everyday people to make its point. It’s a great example of how a less polished approach to video can be effective. 

Make professional video ads with Descript in seconds

It's possible to master video advertising and stand out on social media platforms with Descript's video editing software. With easy-to-use editing tools and customizable templates, you can create consistent, engaging video content that will catch attention, captivate your audience, and build your brand. 

Thousands of creators and marketers are already using Descript as part of their video creation workflow. Ready to join them? Take a tour of Descript today.

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