Running Video Ads? Here’s One Thing You Might Be Doing Wrong

As Digital Marketing Manager at Particle, a direct-to-consumer men’s personal care brand, I spend a great deal of time and effort trying to figure out what creative assets work best in our digital ads. I test new static images and videos practically every day to improve click-through rates (CTRs) and increase sales at the lowest possible cost per acquisition (CPA). 

Video ads in particular are key to reaching our performance goals across multiple digital channels, including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Videos are uniquely able to grab attention and tell a whole story, thus quickly and effectively guiding consumers along the path to purchase, sometimes moving them in just a few minutes all the way from discovery, through consideration, to conversion. What’s more, some platforms—like Facebook—often seem to prioritize videos in terms of distribution, while others, such as YouTube and TikTok, only allow video content.

A critical question, then, is what videos work best not only in getting the attention of prospecting audiences, but also driving sales in the range of our target CPAs. Marketers often assume that humor is crucial for video ads and will improve performance: people like funny videos, the logic goes, will watch them for longer and engage with them more, and this will ultimately generate sales. But is this actually true?

Here at Particle, we’ve run a wide range of different types of video ads, from five-second Boomerang-style videos to extra-long infomercials. One way in which our videos have varied is their content and overall feel: we’ve tried playful, humorous videos that have very little content

For example:

As well as longer videos that open with this kind of playful teaser but go on to provide a lot of information.

As expected, both types of videos draw attention and achieve high CTRs. But the shorter videos do not lead to immediate conversions as we had hoped: their CPAs are high and ROAS is low, despite the fact the landing page they link to includes plenty of relevant details about the product.

Conclusion #1: Humor alone isn’t enough. Give e-commerce consumers information in your videos, even if that means they’re longer than the often recommended 15 or 30 seconds.

We’ve also tried video ads that are entirely informational, focusing on our customers’ pain points and how our products can address these points

These kinds of videos tend to attract lower CTRs, which makes sense since there is no initial hook to stop people as they’re scrolling through their Facebook newsfeed or watching videos on YouTube. But CTR is in any case a secondary KPI for us performance marketers, and these videos more than make up for lower CTRs with their relatively low CPAs—lower, in fact, than the humorous videos.

Conclusion #2: Humor isn’t even necessary for success, and may be less important for driving conversions than directly and comprehensively addressing consumer concerns. 

This isn’t to say, of course, that humor has no role to play in advertising, or that the Harmon Brothers had it all wrong with their comedic ads. A hilarious video that goes viral can significantly raise brand awareness and make you become top-of-mind among millions of potential customers, which is especially important when you’re new or launching a new product. But getting comedy right is also hard, and might not be worth the effort. Consider prioritizing information over humor in your video ads, and you might be the one laughing all the way to the bank.

Aviad Eilam
Aviad Eilam

Digital Marketing Manager at Particle

Digital marketer with a track record of success in full-cycle campaign management.

Manages all digital marketing channels for men's personal care brand Particle, which was born out of a necessity to create products that would better the lives of men.

An expert in the Facebook ecosystem, launching and optimizing Google and Bing non-branded search campaigns using keyword-specific landing pages, expanding branded campaigns across multiple products, countries, and languages.

Not only does he manage the video content and paid ad campaigns on YouTube and Connected TV (Steelhouse) but also manages the relationships with multiple vendors (graphic designers, copywriters, influencer platforms) and micro-influencers to generate top-performing creative assets for all digital channels.

He also leads landing page optimization efforts for prospecting, remarketing, and loyalty audiences based on a/b tests through Google Optimize, heatmaps, and surveys using Hotjar while constantly testing new potential digital channels for advertising, including Snapchat, TikTok and Pinterest.