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Image ads are dead. Long live video ads!

It’s been a long time coming, but static image ads are finally dead. They’re interruptive to the user experience and ineffective compared with other formats available today. My prediction is that 2019 will be the year where I see advertisers shift significantly more budget and resources into video ads, and the tools emerging in this field will make it happen.

As consumers spend more time on their smartphones watching videos, advertisers are expected to spend USD$20 billion on mobile videos in 2019 (up from USD$2 billion in 2015). Cisco estimates that videos are expected to account for more than 80% of the total internet traffic by 2019 (both live video and video ads).

This past year, social media streaming and Instagram “stories” showed us how live videos caught on with audiences; 65% of ad impressions on Instagram were the result of video content, and this is expected to grow even further this year.

With this type of growth and consumption of video ads by consumers, video ads should be a part of every marketer’s strategy in 2019.

Marketers can master video advertising with a combination of harnessing ad creative automation for fast iterations with beautiful video ads that are both on-brand and personalised, based on user interests, platform and device. Brands should broaden their approach to video ads this year to ensure they don’t miss out on opportunities to connect with audiences.

Here are the top trending video ad formats that you should consider for your 2019 digital marketing campaign strategies:

1. Video stories

There are 400 million people using Instagram Stories every day, and a third of the most viewed stories are from brands and businesses. If you’re not already tapping into Instagram Stories ads and building them into your marketing strategy, now is the time. You can create 15-second video ads with Facebook’s Creative Hub, or Ads Manager, or you can design and edit your own ad. Carousel ads for stories will also allow you to play up to three pieces of content (videos included), all within a single ad.

2. Video templates

Many companies are in the social advertising “template” space such as Shakr, Adobe, Waymark, Envato, and even Facebook, and as a result, advertisers face the challenge of having to sift through hundreds of generic templates to find something compelling for their business.

Although most of the template-based solutions are inexpensive, costing between $29 to $99, they’re not proven at providing a return on marketing spend and are almost certain to cost the advertiser more in failed media dollars than a more advanced solution.

I see an emerging mid and higher end advertising templates market evolving for advertisers spending more than $25,000 per month on social advertising. These advertisers want a proven approach to video production that is scalable and produces sales and profits.

Look for new solutions coming in 2019 that leverage the competitor’s ads and offer video templates based on styles that are proven to be working right now in social advertising.

3. Six-second video ads

YouTube started offering marketers the chance to capture the attention of mobile audiences with bite-sized six-second videos, and the format has taken off. These ads aim to tell an entertaining, funny or smart story in just six seconds. And, yes, it’s actually possible.

Viewers on mobile devices are much more open to watching a super quick video before or as an interstitial to content because of the brevity and direct message. In particular, six-second videos resonate with the attention levels of consumers under the age of 35. I expect the short videos between six to 10 seconds to be the immediate future of video advertising this year.

4. Playable video ads

Mobile “playable” video ads literally let viewers play part of a game immediately before showing the call to action for conversion. Both players and advertisers alike are liking the effectiveness of this format. The popular format is really best suited for game publishers so most other app categories will likely miss out on a playable use case. I’d expect to see playables grow in ad spend on Facebook and Google UAC towards the end of 2019.

If you’re waiting for a signal the ad format is really taking off, look for announcements from Adobe or Unity that they’re about to offer tools for the easy generation of playable ads.

5. Rewarded video ads

Viewers want something in return for their time watching an ad, hence, the introduction of rewarded video ads. Rewards are typically in-app items such as game currency or starter packs that boost a player’s progress in-game. For non-gaming apps, rewards can also include unlocking exclusive content or access. Research indicates that viewers are responding favourably to these new emerging formats – especially with mobile users receptive to playable and rewarded video ads, according to eMarketer.

6. Turn your best static images into video ads

If creating video ads seems too time-consuming, there is another way. You can create video-like motion using your still image assets. There are four different categories in which these types of ads fall into: basic in motion, brand in motion, benefit in motion and demo in motion. These videos can be created with limited assets as they consist of still images and simple animations of different elements.

Here’s an overview of each type of video ad:

1. Basic in motion: A simple video or an animation. You can start from a still image and animate one to two elements of the image such as a character. You can also use music to add excitement.

2. Brand in motion: A video with an emphasis on your brand. Start with a still and add excitement by animating an aspect of your brand such as your logo.

3. Benefit in motion: A video with an emphasis on your products’ benefits. Start with a still and add excitement by animating your product’s benefits with typography. Use short copy to make your video effective

4. Demo in motion: A video with an emphasis on how your product works. For mobile games, you can screen-capture gameplay and place it inside a phone. Not a mobile game? Show a demonstration of your product.

5. Basic, brand, benefit and demo in motion: A combination of your basic, brand, benefit and demo in motion videos.

Next steps to harnessing video in 2019

Regardless of which video format that you decide to choose, it all begins with good creative and constant testing. In a market that is flush with video content and short viewer attention spans, iterating quickly and with a continuous stream of video creative to test is how marketers will succeed, not only among the competition, but in sourcing the most entertaining and effective videos for viewers.

Start with six-second videos and videos from simple assets, and graduate to more interactive formats such as playables and rewards.

Structure your creative pipeline such that you’re generating hundreds of video iterations monthly to publish and optimise, and explore templates for a scalable approach. Ultimately, this is how marketers can keep up with the latest and most effective trends in video advertising for 2019.

This article was contributed to Marketing by Brian Bowman, CEO of ConsumerAcquisition.com. It featured in our February print issue available for online viewing here.

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