Why Brands Need Creative That’s Native to Social Platforms
Brands are always looking for new ways to tailor their messages to consumers, whether it’s through personalized creative, sequential messaging, or even customized campaigns. But before your brand should even start customizing to specific users, you need to first tailor the creative to each platform. Brand investment often falls short of its full potential when advertisers jump to advanced marketing and targeting techniques without first investing in the basics: creative that feels native to each social platform.
Why Native Creative Matters
10% of users say they engage with “most” videos on social, but 55% say they engage only with those videos that are relevant to them. The first step toward relevance is creating a video that feels natural to the platform it’s on. On Snapchat, Instagram Stories, and Facebook Stories, for example, that means using vertical video to make full use of the mobile experience. It also means embracing the text and graphic options native to the platform and using formats like Instagram’s Carousel Ads for Stories to create ads with multiple clips or images – just like a native Stories user would.
The aspect ratio, however, is just the beginning. It’s not enough to take your television commercial, crop it to a square or vertical ratio, and call it a day.
What Native Creative Looks Like
Social ads are shorter, faster-paced, and they need to tell a complete story in 15 seconds (or much less). It’s also important to front-load your key information in a social ad, both to catch the viewer’s attention and to ensure part of your message is retained even if the user scrolls past after a few seconds. 38% of brand recall and a full quarter of purchase intent is driven by video impressions shorter than two seconds – so you want to make those two seconds count.
We saw those results first-hand when working with clothing brand Soma in the US and telecom retailer Currys PC World in the UK. We took both brands’ 30-second ads and adapted them for in-feed ads on social, reframing them as square video and bringing their logos into the first few seconds. The Soma videos were just 8 seconds each, delivering a 13x higher return on ad spend (ROAS) compared to the original 30-second videos. The Currys PC ads told a more complex story, and at 15-20 seconds, the social ads still drove a 7-point lift in ad recall and raised top-of-mind awareness by 3 points compared to the original 30-second videos.
The New Digital Video Length
30 seconds has become the industry standard for video ads simply because it’s the most common format for television commercials. But with television viewership declining (-1.5% YoY) and digital video viewership growing (+2.9% YoY), it’s time to think about a new standard that looks at social video first.
Another study we conducted with Facebook and Champs Sports looked at an even shorter video length – six seconds – to understand the relationship between video length and ad recall. The 6-second and 30-second videos had the same average watch time, but ad recall was significantly higher for the 6-second ads. The shorter ads also delivered a 12% ROAS increase, plus incremental lifts on conversion rate, average purchase value, and click-through rate. A common misconception is that there’s no harm in a longer video, because if users leave, there’s no change, and if they choose to stick around, they’ll get more information. While more time and space might be to an advertiser’s benefit in print and television, this study shows that’s not the case on social. Instead, users are most likely to remember an ad that quickly and concisely conveys its message.
Adapting Creative to Feel Native
Even adding motion to still images can be enough to capture a user’s attention, like we did with non-profit organization AfriKids for Facebook’s Creative Shop. Supplied with a library of still images, we created a series of social videos to test against campaigns by two other creative Facebook Marketing Partners. By adding movement, text, and music, the social videos drove a 400% lift in page lands, a 38% lift in video views, and a 79% lift in engagement compared to the next best participant.
Sound is also an important part of social-native creative, and creative that is optimized for social will deliver more sound-on views, which drives increased ad recall and brand awareness. We worked with a financial services advertiser to test the relationship between video and sound, and found that vertical video made for social drove 11x more sound-on views than horizontal video made for TV. Captions also improved the performance of social video ads, improving completion rate by 2% and dropping the cost of a completed video view by up to 12%.
Keeping your copy short has long been a best practice on social, with optimal character counts landing at 71-100 on Twitter and just 40 on Facebook. If your story can be told in 140 characters (or less), your message is always going to be clearer than if you took 500 characters to say the same thing. These learnings apply to video as well, and on social brands have the opportunity to look beyond 15 and 30 second commercial requirements to truly distill the most clear, concise message available.
Social-first creative is the goal, but for many advertisers, it isn’t always possible. Even without social-first creative, advertisers can bring in captions, speed up storylines, cut length, and front-load branding and key messages. Adapted creative still feels native to the platforms and will improve social ad performance, even if it was originally created for print or TV.