So Long, Pop-Ups! Video Ads Are Officially Their Own Content

A few years ago, your average millennial wouldn’t have dreamed of watching a mobile video all the way through. For a generation all about speed and multitasking, being bogged down by even two or three minutes of video runtime was unthinkable. Sure, millennials are bananas for streaming TV and movies through services like Netflix and Hulu, but they still look for ways to shorten the time they spend watching video — even video they’re interesting in watching.

For example, to make binge-watching more efficient, Netflix automatically brings up the next episode in a series and skips past the intro to bring viewers straight to the content they’re looking for. Hulu also brings up the next episode in a series, in addition to offering two different versions of ad-free streaming to accommodate users who want to stream (almost) ad-free. Even people still watching cable have learned to record shows and fast-forward past intros and commercials.

However, the tides now appear to be turning in favor of video and, shockingly, video ads! In 2014, Facebook started auto-playing video ads on their site, and people have since become accustomed to watching them. Because they auto-played without sound, video creators started using captions or wordless content so users wouldn’t need to click into the video to experience the ad.

One of the most notable successes in the arena is Buzzfeed’s cooking channel: Tasty. Tasty videos have become massively popular on Facebook in part thanks to their stunning visuals and wordless directions. Tasty currently has 80 thousand followers on Facebook and frequently partners with brands like Hyundai or Amazon to make native video ads.

Similarly, Snapchat has created a platform for video ads that blends seamlessly with the user experience. When people are using Snapchat Discover, they’re already swiping between videos and moving graphics, and it will take a few seconds before they realize they’re looking at an ad in between Discover content, not unlike an advertorial in a magazine. Because they’re already engaging, swiping left and right and up and down on the app, they might even be willing to swipe up on your ad if the content is interesting enough.

The success of ads on Tasty and Snapchat, not to mention YouTube, has created a path for other videos and video ads for one simple reason: millennials are now willing to give video a chance.

So, what’s next? It’s time to make compelling, original video content that works without sound, blends into the platform it’s on, launches into the exciting stuff immediately (make auto-play work for you!), and keeps viewers engaged until the end. According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, video will account for around 75% of mobile data traffic by 2022, so there’s still time to make your videos the videos to watch.

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