Sections in Chapter 2:

Establish Goals

An explanation of how to set video goals.

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Your Audience

How to define and resonate with your target audience.

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A description of the most important creative components in a video ad.

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Ad Inventory

A detailed description of the most common types of video inventory.

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Create Compelling Content

Setting Goals with Video Types

Modern consumers are barraged with billions of videos across devices, formats and apps and the most reliable way to separate an advertising video from the noise is by creating a strong piece of content. An advertising video must have a clear goal. Most goals fall into one of two broad categories: brand videos or product videos. Which of these goal categories that video advertisement falls into determines the structure of the subsequent video advertising campaign.

Brand Videos

Brand videos should tell a story about a company’s brand, culture, values or the lifestyle that the company promotes. Brand videos often articulate something unique about a brand or a brand’s ability to transfer its values to its customers. Successful brand videos tell a clear and cohesive story about the quality of a brand.

Product Videos

Product videos should clearly define the product (or event, deal, etc.) being advertised and make this product’s benefits clear. Product videos often portray the product being advertised as unique or exceptional and highlight the problem that the product solves. Successful product videos convey a clear understanding of the particular product’s value.

Know Your Audience

Define a Specific Audience

Regardless of whether the advertising video is intended to sell a brand or to sell a particular product, the video must resonate with the target audience. The more targeted your audience is, the more specific the story should be. Video advertising content should always be created with the target audience in mind. Whenever possible, consumer feedback should be used to sharpen and refine advertisement content.

Understand Audience Desires and Pain Points

For a video to resonate with a target audience, it must pinpoint what the target audience wants — or what it doesn’t want. The video must address the target audience directly and show them how a particular brand or product will improve their life. The video should speak to the lifestyles, pain points, desires and experiences of your target audience. Advertisers should understand the lifestyles their audience members want, the problems their audience members face and the benefits they can provide to their audience members. Furthermore, the video should account for how much knowledge of the product or brand that an audience can be expected to have by imparting sufficient — but not redundant — information in the content of the video. A thorough understand of the target audience’s problems, desires, product knowledge and sense of humor, will create the foundation upon which to build the video advertisement. Different audiences warrant different creative decisions about style, tone and the narrative structure of the video.

The Right Creative Components

Tell an Intelligible Story that Resonates with Your Audience

Every advertising video should tell a story — and if a video does not tell a cohesive story it is less likely to succeed. However, telling a story successfully is not the only thing that a video must do. Videos should be designed to accomplish specific goals — and should be deemed unsuccessful unless they make concrete and measurable progress towards achieving those goals.

This graphic describes six essential visual elements that are required to make a piece of video advertising content engaging.

Visible Branding

If viewers cannot immediately visibly identify a brand that is associated with video content, then it is likely that they will lose focus on the advertisement before they are able to develop an association between the brand and the content.

Prominent Call to Action

Video advertisements should provide viewers with a clear option to continue their buyer’s journey in the form of a call to action (CTA). Call to actions often take the form of buttons and should be prominently visible to encourage viewers to click them.

Appropriate Length

The length of the video should reflect the goal of the ad. Both brand and product videos should be as short as possible to maximize effectiveness given limited attention spans. Product videos must also be long enough to provide sufficient information about the product.


Sound is an important part of a video advertisement that can enhance the viewing experience if used properly. Sound should always be an option, but it should not be a default in inventory types where it would be intrusive and degrade viewer experience.

Relatable Content

The video content should provide enough context to be understood and enjoyed by the target audience. The amount of context required to explain the content is contingent upon the narrowness of the target audience.

Identifable Product

For product videos, the product and its important qualities should be clearly evident to the viewer. For brand videos, the appeal of the brand should be clear and the reason to learn more about the brand should be explicit.

Ad Networks and Ad Inventory

Different Types of Ad Inventory

There are many different ad units available for video advertisements. The different specifications for video advertisements are determined by the publishers on whose websites the video will ultimately play. Depending on your business goals, some formats may be more effective than others. There are two broad categories of video advertisements: in-display videos and in-stream videos. The distinction between these categories is where these advertisements are located and how they are viewed. In-display videos are embedded outside of video players on pages that are not created specifically for video consumption. In-stream videos are embedded in designated video players on pages where users are expecting to watch video.

See below to learn about the different types of video inventory.

In Display Formats

In-display videos can be very productive for marketers because they allow for the use of videos on all kinds of websites, applications and devices. While in-display videos do do not guarantee views, they can be placed widely across the web and used successfully in specific targeting campaigns. In-display video formats are becoming increasingly important for marketers because they can reach consumers that are engaged in all types of online activities. ‘Native’ in-display advertisements are created to seamlessly match their surrounding content. When native advertisements are successful, consumer experience is uninterrupted because the ad content perfectly matches the surrounding content. While native advertising campaigns often must be created specifically to fit their surroundings, they can be highly effective at funneling consumers who are active on social media, online news and gaming platforms.

In Banner

These videos are placed inside banners on web pages of all kinds. Banner videos are interactive and can be enlarged or supplemented with sound when consumers scroll over them.


These videos are placed in separate pop-up windows that appear when other web pages are loading.

In Feed

These videos are placed inside social media feeds alongside social content.

In App

These videos are placed inside of applications such as games and publications.


These videos are placed inside display units and expand when the viewer’s mouse scrolls over the inventory.

In Stream Formats

In stream videos are highly effective because they specifically target viewers who are already watching videos and are very likely to pay attention to the advertisement. In-stream videos are placed only on pages that feature videos, but virtually guarantee views by targeting a captive audience. In-stream video formats are advantageous because they are displayed so prominently that they are hard for consumers to ignore — in stream audiences are considered ‘captive’ because they cannot click away from the advertisement without clicking away from the primary content.

Pre Roll

These videos occupy the entire video screen and are shown before the primary video stream.

Mid Roll

These videos occupy the entire video screen and are shown in the middle of a video stream as a break.

Post Roll

These videos occupy the entire video screen and are shown after the primary video stream.

This graphic shows an example of post roll video advertising inventory.


These videos occupy a small part of the video screen and are shown in the middle of the video stream at the same time as the primary video stream.

Video Suitability

General Parameters

Typically, successful digital advertising videos range in length from 10 to 30 seconds. Both MP4 and MOV files can be processed. Multiple videos may be used for a single campaign, but they will usually be displayed randomly. While it is possible for advertisers to compare individual video performance within a single campaign, advertisers who want to A/B test or perform high-level analytical comparisons of multiple pieces of creative should launch separate campaigns.

Creative Tags

Some agencies use creative tags rather than raw video files. If creative tags are properly processed by an integration engineer, they can still be used in video campaigns as long as a special extra tracking layer is applied outside the creative tag. Since all video advertisements are ultimately served by external, third-party ad servers, advertisers without access to the raw video files of their advertisements have no control over the creative content or the user ad experience. To prevent ad network approval issues that may arise when using third-party ad servers and to ensure campaign quality, it is highly recommended that advertisers use raw video files instead of creative tags.

The Network Approval Process

Submission for Approval

Advertisers can submit creative material for approval as soon as it is finalized in the appropriate ad streaming format. Ad networks have machine and human review processes that examine both the creative content itself and also the destination URL to which the content links. This screening process typically takes 4 to 6 hours. After the approval process is completed and the campaign has launched, the ad network will screen one of every thousand times the creative is served to ensure continued compliance of the creative and the destination URL.

Rejection of Creative Content

The most common reasons that an ad network would reject creative are that the content is considered inappropriate, or that the website is not crawlable. In the latter case, the speed of the website, the presence of redirection mechanisms (pop-ups, redirects, malware etc.) and the content on the host site all impact the process of evaluation.