This section of our knowledge base elaborates about video content in a broad sense: what works and what is possible? Find the answers to the following questions:
- How do you get the most out of personalization?
- What are the creative possibilities of StoryTEQs technical platform?
- What are the do’s and don’ts are of online video?
1. Quick personalization
Do you have an important message? Bring it immediately. The first three seconds make or break the success of a video. So integrate compelling images and cool content in the first seconds. Make for an explosive and impressive intro, because your video has to fight against countless others. The beginning should attract attention - which personalisation does - pack the viewer with a strong message or beautiful images and immediately make clear what it is about. If you're going to talk about a bear, bring on the bear.
2. Spread the personalization
Make sure you spread the moments of personalization moments across your film, as this works favorably for the drop-off rate. You keep the viewer curious, alert and the message relevant. The chance that someone will drop out during the video will be considerably smaller.
3. Use available data to maximize relevancy
Use the available data to make the message really relevant for the recipient. Do you have someone's place of residence? Then you can animate it on a sign in the background, but you can also show the nearest store where the viewer can go. The latter is way more relevant, whereas the first is more gimmicky.
Try to stay away from the 1-on-1 display of available data and make sure you get to a deeper level while concepting. Ask yourself: how can I really relevant for the viewer based on this data? Can I adjust visuals, audio, scenes, image or subtitles to be extra relevant?
4. Variable outcomes
Within some campaign flows, or a contact moment in a customer journey, shareability is an important objective. Do you want someone to create their own personal video? And share it to create extra reach, brand awareness or leads? Then make sure you have a variable component in the dynamic video, so that the video is always different. Maybe the storyline is differs per viewer. Variable outcomes ensures optimal curiosity which is a strong trigger to take action. You want to create a craving, because predictability does not create desire.
Nir Eyal gives a great example in his book 'Hooked'. Opening your fridge is something you do when it’s necessary, but imagine “a different treat magically appears in your fridge every time you open it - and voila, intrigue is created." Research shows that levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine surge when the brain is expecting a reward. Introducing variability multiplies this effect by creating a focused state.
In short: enough reason to add variability if you want people to create or share their own video.
The goal of this chapter is to show the (creative) possibilities of our dynamic video platform and to inspire you to come up with awesome and effective video campaigns by making multiple creative variations. There are three ways we can enrich video, with:
Dynamic intro’s, outro’s and overlays
To make an existing video more relevant.
Add dynamic intro's, outro's and layovers. Our overlays are hardcoded into the videofile (.mp4) making them compatible with every player and device.
Creating unique video’s by swapping scenes. Category based messaging (segmentation).
Determine most relevant scene & find and replace images, text, audio or video in video within the ad.
Dynamic and personalized scenes
Extending the experience by showing personal data in owned channels or adjusting the message based on personal data.
Throughout the video personal information can be shown or be the driver to swap scenes.
1. Dynamic intro's
A dynamic intro boosts the relevance of the first seconds. A more relevant intro triggers the attention of the viewer. Let's look at some examples:
This Christmas ad intends to create awareness about lonely elderly. Instead of showing the original intro with the total number of lonely elderly in the UK, we’ve made the intro dynamic. The content changes depending on location, showing the amount of lonely elderly in the specific region of the viewer, making the creative that follows much more relevant. Resulting in a boost of engagement (viewing rate).
- Public database
In this hyper segmented video ad for Porsche the viewer is directly addressed based on his location of residence. “Will you be driving the next Porsche in <city>?” This way, the video content directly gets a boost in relevance. The audience is targeted based on the knowledge of Porsche. The Porsche model shown in the ad differs by gender and social class. This way the ad visually adapts to the audience category.
- Personal data
- Category based messaging
In this dynamic intro for a stroller manufacturer the purchase history of the viewer is used to trigger their attention. By showing the product they already own before the main creative and referring to the first stroll they took with their little one(s) the engagement is increased, making the add that follows more relevant.
- Purchase history
In this dynamic video ad for a skin product especially manufactured for neutralizing the damaging effects of urban life, i.e. air pollution, the intro engages the targeted viewers by showing the city they live in. ’Can your skin handle the city?’ is the question the ad poses. By visually adding the city of residence of the viewer to the equation the relevance gets a huge boost.
- Personal data
The dynamic overlays shown above are used in an after movie for a zoo. The video is sent to visitors at the end of the day. This way the experience is extended to outside of the park fences.
The overlays in this video use the day of visit and a public database to access actual weather data - temperature (celsius) and weather type (sunny, changeable, rainy). This is combined with footage of an animal that is either sunbathing, shaking off water or taking a relaxing swim, and a corresponding message in the voice-over:
”We hope you had a fantastic day”. Followed by:
“The weather certainly was!” [Sunny] or;
“Despite of the rain.” [Rainy] or;
“Although the weather was a bit volatile.” [Changeable]
- Time / Date
- Public database
- Category based messaging
These dynamic overlays are used in an retailer’s video ad that show manufacturer’s products and promotions. All five key features are shown in the overlay, but based on the profile of the viewer one of them is highlighted and the corresponding video images are shown.
- Category based messaging
In this dynamic video ad - promoting occupational disability insurance for freelancers - different people of different ages and occupations are shown that match that of the viewer. Then confronting them with a fact what it would mean for them specifically if they would become incapacitated.
- Personal data
- Public database
2. Dynamic outro's
A dynamic outro boosts the relevance of the last few seconds for every specific viewer. Which makes the call to action much more powerful. Relevance can be boosted in different ways. For instance, by changing the message into a specific language, by showing a different product based on gender, the time of day, purchase history, pricing (discounts) or the local reseller (store location) and if there isn’t one nearby, directing the viewer to the web shop.
Gender, Product & Pricing
LOCATION & LOCAL STORE
In this Christmas retargeting ad for a Dutch retailer there were multiple call to actions possible. Based on the most likely buyers persona of the retargeted viewer the right outro overlay was shown in the blue corner:
“Order now, delivered tomorrow.”
“Free delivery and return.”
“Payment by installments possible.”
The product category the retargeted viewer was browsing during his session on the website, was also shown in the ad, varying from Christmas lights to Men’s clothing. To create a sense of urgency and stimulate people to do their Christmas shopping in time a dynamic day counter was used, showing how many nights of sleep were left before Christmas.
- Time / Date
- Browsing Behaviour
- Category based messaging
3. Dynamic scenes
As written before, besides using dynamic intro’s, overlays and outro’s to make existing video’s more relevant, you can also make larger parts of video’s dynamic.
When you have no existing video in place, and are in the opportunity to create one from scratch, you have the possibility to create dynamic scenes to be fully relevant for your targeted audiences. Thus creating unique video’s by swapping scenes. And aligning category based messages with the interests and needs that best suit your viewers.
For example, in the video below a producer of climate control equipment for crops targets their audience by adjusting the video content to the reality of each unique viewer. The crop that’s shown in the video aligns with the crop of the targeted grower, whether it’s tomatoes, strawberries or orchids.
In this video a college gives a warm welcome to their new students and gives them a tour of their new faculty. The structure and message of the video is the same, but the scenes swap depending on the study and faculty of the viewer. So a chemistry student sees other images than someone who’s studying to become a teacher.
- Personal data
- Category based messaging
Throughout a video as a whole you can also swap text, images, audio or even video in video within scenes to align your message with the situation of the viewer. In this ad for an airliner the departure date (text) and destination (text+image) are altered to match the recipients.
- Personal data
4. Personalized scenes
On top of dynamic intro’s, overlays, outro’s and scenes you can also personalize your video content within your owned channels when you have personal data available. You can either show personal information or adjust the message based on that personal information, to make the content more relevant.
Do's and Don'ts of Video
#1. Make the video intensely emotional
It is not enough to make viewers smile, you have to let them roar with laughter. Research shows that there is a direct link between the intensity of the emotion perceived by viewers when they watch a video and their intention to share the advertising, to review it again and to buy the discussed product (see bullit points).
Emotional videos generate stronger memory structures in our brains. That is why it is important to pay a lot of attention to the emotions that you want the viewer to feel, and how you make them as intense as possible. Because then viewers will remember your video content earlier and act accordingly.
- According to a Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience study, emotional advertisements (ads with an above-average EEG score) result in a 23% increase in turnover.
- According to the Field, IPA and Gunn Report 'Selling Creativity Short', emotional expressions are 10 times more efficient than non-emotional commercial expressions.
- Binet and Field also conclude that expressions that provoke intense emotional reactions significantly increase the likelihood of business success compared to "rational" expressions.
- Research by Unruly shows that emotional videos on average lead to an increase of 80% in purchase intent, 74% in brand preference and 15% in completion rate.
#2. Focus on the emotion, not the creative device
Research shows that creative devices that you use in a video, such as famous people, babies, cats, music, and so on, do not individually determine how successful the video is. Adding a cat to a video will not make your video more successful. It is about whether the cat (or other creative device) can evoke an intense emotional response that builds memory structures in the mind of the viewer. So first think about the emotions, then the creative tools that can strengthen these emotions.
Besides emotions, use the power of audio, increasing pace and breaking the fourth wall to increase watch time. Also make sure, narration mirrors on-screen action. Otherwise it can distract viewer.
#3. Activate more positive than negative emotions
According to an extensive neurological research by Neurensics, the most effective commercials generate positive brain reactions, such as desire, expectation and credibility. These commercials are the most capable to activate consumers (orientation and purchasing behavior). This conclusion is the result of analyzing brain activity while watching hundreds of video ads that have proven their sales value (Effie-winners)
Zooming in on buying emotions, effective advertising focuses mainly on the positive emotion of desire rather than making an impact by creating attention and novelty. The research also shows that Effie-winners are a lot less loud/noisy than amusing commercials (Gouden Loekie-winners) or irritating commercials (Loden Leeuw-winners).
Effective ads also succeed in making the brain believe that using the product in question will generate a strong rewarding feeling.
After analyzing how our brain responds to hundreds of commercials Neurensics concludes that the balance of positive and negative emotions is what matters in the end.
It should clearly lean towards positive. A reward works better than punishment, so it appears. Or as parents of children have known for a long time: by rewarding you can change behavior in a desired direction. With penalties you can mainly ensure that certain behavior is not shown.
Watch the two versions of this Kärcher commercial and experience how crucial the balance of positive and negative brain reaction is. The short (20") version of this Kärcher commercial has a better positive and negative ratio than the longer (30"). And is therefore more effective!
Karcher Commercial - Long edit
Karcher Commercial - Short edit
#4. Fear appeal works, but only if it gets solved
We already wrote that an effective commercial activates more positive than negative emotions. Does this mean that you can never use negative emotions in an advertisement? The commercial below shows that we must answer this question with 'no'. This Febreze-commercial, which won a Effie (prize for effectiveness) in the US, starts with a problem. But the video ad ends with a solution.
This expression is a classic example of the so-called Fear-appeal. The generated fear is used to achieve the desired behavior. Essential for this strategy is that the negative feeling can easily be solved by the viewer.
In the beginning of the commercial, fear and aversion are generated by the dirty images of the waste container. Then Febreze offers the solution, namely by praising (not entirely surprising) Febreze. In the temporal results (see second video), in which the balance of positive and negative emotions is shown, the course of this mechanism is clearly visible (0-line is neutral and everything above it positive, everything below it negative).
The commercial starts out neutral, but quickly activates negative emotions. Then the solution is shown, we see a happy user and the guests can appreciate the fine smell.
We also see a dip at the end of the commercial. This has to do with conceptual closure. Procter & Gamble, the parent company of Febreze, decided to add another product at the end of the commercial. However, this is a hard break of the story we saw before, so the viewer needs a long time to process and save the information. This creates a drop in attention and an increase in fear, because the viewer is temporarily confused.
Procter & Gamble often uses Fear appeals in their advertisements. And almost always in the same way: induce fear or negative feelings at the beginning and then solve this in the same commercial with positive feelings that transcend the negative. Scientific publications show that the second step (solving the problem with positive feelings) is essential for the operation of the technique. Febreze understands exactly how this works, and with the fear of dirty smells makes it possible to activate their promise: 'Breathe happy'.
Febreze Commercial - With temporal valence
#5. Humor creates involvement, but beware of Schadenfreude
Analysis of funny commercials (Gouden Loekie-winners, that we’re chosen by viewers) shows that these are often based on failure, shock or problems with the main characters. Just take a look at the two examples.
Malicious pleasure, or Schadenfreude, as the Germans say, is the basis of a lot of humor. It makes us laugh. The failure of another attracts attention on the one hand and on the other makes us laugh. This happens regularly in the context of advertising.
fMRI tests show that this type of commercials mainly elicits negative brain reactions as danger, fear, shock or disgust among viewers: the brain cannot move around what it sees and reacts reflexively.
If you also show the solution for the suffering in a way that produces positive emotions (e.g. desire, expectation, credibility or added value / reward), there is little to it. As long as they are able to sufficiently compensate negative brain reaction. If this is not the case, then you will have a funny commercial, but brain reactions such as danger, fear or disgust will act as negative reïnforcers: viewers will avoid showing behavior that is linked to them.
So, Schadenfreude is not the best form of humor for a funny commercial: instead of 'approach' it leads to 'avoidance' response. We like it, but we wouldn’t want to be part of the situation shown! Other forms of humor, if functional (meaning: not only the joke is remembered), can indeed work.
Specsavers commercial "Seagull" (May 2016)
Bol.com commercial "Sleepwagen" (2014)
#6. Make the brand integral
It happens too often that you’ve seen the most beautiful (online) commercial, but can’t remember from which brand the ad actually was. A crying shame! Because if the viewer doesn’t know who the video is from, then they cannot make a connection between the brand and the emotions they feel. In fact, too little branding can also confuse viewers, because they try to find out who the video is about, rather than being transported by the emotions that the brand presents to them. In short: make the brand integral to the video. And preferably to the concept. So that the film no longer works for another brand.
Use big and clear logos to boost brand awareness. And keep in mind the visibility of brand on smart phones. Show logos and brand icons early on in the video. If a viewer stops watching your video – for instance after three quarters of the video - which is a good completion rate – and he didn’t see anything from your brand, it’s an missed opportunity. Ensure maximum exposure!
#7. Let actors look at what’s important
By nature, we read the faces of actors who play in a commercial, we automatically look at the emotions they communicate. As babies we already learn to find out what the other person is planning or wants – even without words. Likewise, viewers at a commercial automatically follow the viewing direction of actors. This principle can be seen in the attached Mercedes-video ad.
You can use this principle to bring the viewers, in a natural way, to a specific image element, e.g. a product shot, a text or a brand name.
This also ensures focused attention, which means that the image element in question is even better processed. You can also use this principle well in an online environment. For example, by having a face look at a call-to-action button.
The man's viewing direction is being followed.
He looks at the bottom left, where later the Essent logo is placed.
#8. Everything that moves attracts attention
Eye tracking shows that, in a static image, the eye is automatically attracted by (fast) moving elements. You can use this to draw attention to something that you want to focus on, for example your product.
In the example of Oral B you will notice that your eye will remain fixed on the rotating brush as a result of which the surrounding text will receive less attention (see the central eye fixations, the red dots in this eye tracking analysis).
So take into account that movement can also distract views from what you want to show. How many people would still process the text "check tele2.nl" correctly in the outro of the Tele2 commercial?
Oral B commercial
Tele2 commercial - Outro
#9. Beware of conceptual closure
When looking at a commercial, the brain will automatically try to divide it into compartments. This is necessary in order to be able to process and store information quickly. Conceptual closures are called the transitions that arise this way. This can happen at the end of a TVC (e.g. after a 'punch-line'), but also during the video. For example, due to a changing environment: a just married couple gets together in a car driving away (engine noise). Then we see how they sit with a baby in the garden years later.
Other transitions, e.g. in music, background color or characters, also contribute to the formation of a conceptual closure. In short, everything that makes the brain suspect that a story might end. At the moment of conceptual closure, the brain literally has to switch: the previous scene is closed (and saved) and it jumps to the new context. However brief and unconscious this effort is, this means that the attention temporarily weakened: this 'attention drop' typically lasts 1-2 seconds.
The clearer the conceptual closure, the stronger the 'conceptual closure' and the resulting attention drop. If you share important information in this short period, it will certainly not reach the viewer! Typical consequences are e.g. not being able to follow a storyline, or a bad brand linkage (brand logo directly after a punch line).
An example of conceptual closure can be seen in the commercial below. Take a good look at what happens from 15 seconds. After we see Hazes performing at different venues we go back to the party. Then we see - in chronological order and in quick succession - the neighbor who talks unclearly - Hazes - solar panels - app – Hazes and then the neighbor. Scan results showed a low score on Attention and a high score on Fear - this combination indicates that the conceptual closure caused uncertainty. This transition was adjusted later on the basis of neuro research.
So make sure that the first two seconds after a clear conceptual closure does not contain information that is essential for following the storyline or the effectiveness of your commercial! Make sure the viewer has time to process separate scenes / messages with quiet transitions, so that our brain does not lose attention.
#10. Come straight to the point
Do you have an important message? Tell it immediately. The first three seconds make or break the success of a video. So capture attention early on. Integrate compelling images and cool content in the first seconds. Make for an explosive and impressive intro, because your video has to fight against countless others. The beginning should attract attention, pack the viewer with a strong message or beautiful images and immediately make clear what it is about. If you're going to talk about a bear, bring on the bear.
Creative concepts that lean on a 'big revelation' may work on television, because the audience is leaning back, but are counterproductive for online video. Leave aside the slowly constructive format of traditional storytelling and immediately provide added value or a catchy pay-off. Front-load your story arc.
Not convinced? Consider the time in which the average viewer decides whether a video is worth his while: 1.7 seconds on mobile, and a forgiving 2.5 seconds on a desktop.
#11. Keep it short and sweet
70% of mobile users think the ideal length of a mobile video is 20 seconds maximum. And that applies to all age groups. When the viewer is further along the customer journey, video may often be longer because the viewer is more engaged. But still: the shorter the video, the greater the chance that the video will be completely viewed, and that all the information you provide to the viewer will be consumed.
#12. Be effective without sound
It’s common nowadays to scroll through your feeds in public. Then it is very annoying when a video with sound automatically starts playing! At least, that is the opinion of 46% of Europeans who view mobile video ads. In fact, 73.9% of mobile viewers stop the video immediately if the sound is played automatically. Therefore it’s not surprising that 76% of mobile viewers want to have control over the sound of a video advertisement (Unruly Mobile Video Survey). And that 85% of the videos on Facebook are viewed without sound.
Have you ever thought about how hearing impaired people experience your online videos? It’s more important than you think! In the Netherlands alone there are 495.000 deaf people and people with severe hearing impairment. On a total of one and a half million hearing-impaired. That’s 8.7% of the population.
In short: make sure that your video content can also intensely inspire viewers without using a voice-over or music. That the message still lands! By using (smooth) image titles that summarize the message or by including subtitles in the film. Did you know that subtitling can extend the viewing time by 12%? By making subtitling descriptive, your video can be better understood without sound. Think of describing the kind of (background) music that plays, important ambient sounds or the intonation of a voice, such as joy, panic, et cetera.
#13. Use mental simulation
Research shows that when we see someone consuming something, that behavior is mirrored in our brain. A 'mental simulation' takes place in our brains. This happens even if we see a product or object that is not used but that we can use (such as a cup of tea). But generally speaking, the clearer the behavior is shown, the easier the simulation.
An example comes from the research Neurensics did for Smint. The moving storyboard below was shown to the respondents in the MRI scanner. The video shows an applicant getting a fresh feeling after taking a Smintje and then entering the room for his job interview full of self-confidence. The fMRI examinations showed that the moment someone gets a fresh feeling after taking a Smint should be communicated very clearly, perhaps even a little exaggerated, because of mental simulation.
Mental simulation ensures that your brain imitates the experience of taking a Smintje. This boosts involvement, but it also activates positive feelings that are associated with this. A little later in the storyboard we see that the man enters the room full of self-confidence in which the job interview will take place. This also makes it possible to activate positive emotions, because the good feeling of regained self-confidence is mirrored.
The process of mental simulation is automatic, often without us knowing. Research even showed differences in effectivity between ads that held a product in a left hand or in a right hand. Because more people are right handed the latter scored better on mental simulation and effectivity.
So, mental simulation, is a good way to make people - at a distance - virtually acquainted with a product or service.
Smint - Moving Storyboard
#14. Always show the moment of pleasure
Advertising is intended to introduce people to the advertised product or service. But how do you ensure that people become sufficiently motivated to use a product or service? Research based on more than 50,000 MRI scans gives us the answer: through the good feeling that arises after a product (or service) is consumed.
Let’s compare two coffee-commercials. One for Nespresso, one for Douwe Egberts. Let's start with the first mentioned.
There are several things going well in this Nespresso advertisement:
- The look and feel of the video signals status and luxury.
- George Clooney as the ambassador of Nespresso. Men want to be him, women want to be with him.
- The cup of coffee is nicely filmed; we see a small drop in the cup and then bounce back.
Everything ensures that you feel like drinking a cup of Nespresso. And then we see the woman at the end of the commercial enjoying, in the setting sun, her cup of coffee.
fMRI results show that the advertising activates an above-average desire, expectation, but also a direct reward.
Then, let's take a look at Douwe Egberts. A sympathetic story, that's for sure. But the commercial is actually a few seconds too short. The advertising stops just when the father wants to enjoy his coffee. As a result, the good feeling that must result from the use of Douwe Egberts is not activated. Brain data comfirms this: unlike the Nespresso-commercial - the Douwe Egberts ad wasn’t able to activates those positive emotions.
If the feeling that must result from a product or service experience is not communicated, then this has a negative influence on the pleasure areas in the mind of the viewer. And it is precisely these areas that are largely responsible for consumer behavior.
The learning is clear: always ask yourself how your product or service should give the user a sense of reward or pleasure, and make sure that you show that in advertising.
Nespresso - In the name of pleasure (TVC, 2013)
Douwe Egberts - Winter (TVC, 2017)
#7. Be creative with the call to action
Show strong call to actions at the beginning and the end of the video. If you only show it at the end, you will miss the viewers who drop out earlier. Make sure the call to action (CTA) lands. Make the CTA visually attractive and auditory! Attention is fleeting, so ensure the viewer remembers your call to action by mentioning it again in voiceovers or supers.
Be clear and direct on what you want people to do, whether that’s clicking out to your brand’s website, watching another video, or visiting a local store. And do not forget to emphasize the CTA in the copy that accompanies the video.