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5 Takeaways from Facebook Video Ad Tests

Published: December 2, 2016

Author: Elise Wang

I recently tested a few versions of Facebook video ads for one of my direct response clients and found some pretty striking results. Here are some recommendations based on testing. (As always, we recommend that you test everything, particularly for different company types.)

1. Create ads with just video (no sound) in mind


  • We have all heard the best practice that your video ads should make sense without sound or voiceover, but just how important is it? It’s more important than you think; almost 90% of video are played with sound off. This means 90% of viewers won’t fully understand your message if you rely on audio to convey it. Before you set your video ads live, make sure they make sense without sound or voiceover.
  • If your video needs voiceover, an alternative is to add captions. Keep in mind that on mobile devices, captions will be small and might actually take away from the actual content.

2. Keep Length Short

We tested two videos with different length and very similar content. The above data was very clear: shorter videos have stronger CTR, driving down overall CPC. In this case, the shorter video also had a higher CVR and lower CPA.
Setting a goal of making shorter videos (less than 1 min.) also helps you choose content that is “nice to have” vs. “must have.” Before you start adding more content, think about whether or not it’s absolutely necessary or whether it dilutes the message.

3. Keep Content Specific

We also tested different types of video, specifically, more general branding videos vs. highly informative, technical, and product-specific videos. We found technical/product specific ads resonate better with viewers. More than twice of the users who viewed the technical ads clicked through to learn more about the product, resulting in more than double the CTR, half the CPC, and 61% the CPA.

4. Branding and Direct Response Don’t Always Work Well Together

We ran branding ads and found that even though users finished watching the videos and clicked through to our landing page, they didn’t convert well. The CPA is 16x more than what we saw from Direct Response campaigns. We ended up targeting users likely to watch video with our branding ads and focused DR ads using oCPM auctions on people likely to convert.
Note that even if you are using the same audience, your ads could be delivered to vastly different demographics because of your bidding strategy (conversion vs. video view).

5. Follow These Steps for Branding and Direct Response

This was the strategy that worked the best for us with blending branding and DR-focused campaigns:

  • Understand who you are going after (even with branding); using Facebook Audience Insights is a great way to start
  • Create content that speaks to your audience and add a strong Call to Action at the end of the video
  • Layer demographic targeting if you know your core audience; this will force Facebook to spend on audiences that are more likely to convert
  • Follow up with Direct Response ads that offer additional product value

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