How video and AI is transforming smart shopping

Lisa Haskins of VidMob on the AI that informs ad creative in the dawning age of video shopping.

Lord Leverhulme’s dilemma as to which half of his Unilever advertising was wasted is a perennial challenge for marketers.

And now, with e-commerce booming thanks to the pandemic, advertisers need even more creative and compelling strategies to reach their market effectively.

“Above all, video is becoming increasingly important for brands that want to engage customers accustomed to the fast-paced short-form content popularised by emerging platforms like TikTok”

Enter VidMob, a US tech company with EMEA headquarters in Dublin.  VidMob has pioneered an AI tool that measures the performance of advertising creative, allowing brands and businesses to optimise ad design for more efficient and impactful campaigns across digital platforms.

The SaaS marketing company can tell clients which colours give them the best cut-through, where to place their logo on-screen and even how the direction of a model’s gaze impacts ad performance.

The technology breaks down ads frame-by-frame into individual creative elements, which are then paired with extensive VidMob data on ad performance gathered from platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Snap and more.

Using VidMob, companies can assess which creative elements work best for them based on how they are impacting purchase rates and other objectives.

Video appeal

While the e-commerce boom has helped brands to diversify, it also forced them to rethink how best to reach customers on digital platforms and hold their attention.

To find out more about the creative that really cuts through for brands at Christmas, the busiest time of the year for many, VidMob conducted a recent normative study examining the ad design and messaging tactics of 68 different retail and e-commerce brands during the 2020 holiday season.

The in-depth analysis includes more than 12,000 discrete ads drawn from close to 1,200 campaigns, generating more than 3.2 billion impressions across Facebook, Instagram, Facebook Messenger and Facebook Audience Network.

While VidMob highly recommends clients discover their own brand best practices to truly compete against competitors, the data shared with Champion Green helped VidMob clients to re-examine and tweak their Christmas creative to deliver better results.

Above all, video is becoming increasingly important for brands that want to engage customers accustomed to the fast-paced short-form content popularised by emerging platforms like TikTok.

VidMob’s intensive technical analysis shows that short-form video is key when it comes to attracting users’ attention. Video ads drove a 30% higher online purchase rate compared to static ads, the research found — and storytelling also matters.

Think of ways to creatively convey the lifecycle of your products by, for example, showing your shoppers “how to” in your creative and allowing your ads to serve as a map for product experience by providing a glimpse into things they will enjoy.

Short is sweeter

And remember, short is sweeter. Video ads of between 1 and 5 seconds long had a purchase rate 167% higher than the overall video average, and 700% higher than videos running to 16 seconds or more, the lowest performing category in the VidMob study. 

“Create excitement by showing shoppers how many items have been sold, for example, or incorporate images to stimulate a threshold for shopping time.”

Maybe we’re time poor, or our attention span is dwindling, but the message for marketers is clear — keep it brief and engaging.

Combining video with strategically placed text on screen is an effective combination. In the VidMob study, videos with text in the first frame delivered a sales lift three times higher than ads that introduced text after the first 3 seconds.

For shorter ads, logos should be displayed within the first two seconds for quick recognition.

Creating a sense of urgency also helps, according to VidMob, which identified the Calls to Action (CTA) with the highest conversion rates in its study.

For CTAs in the first 3 seconds of a video, the word “Get” had an average purchase rate 53% higher than CTAs using the word “Shop.” Using “Limited” in static ads, meanwhile, increased purchase rates by 20% compared to “Now.”

To entice shoppers even further with your Christmas creative, consider the most important words for them by consulting your SEO list. Use messaging that greets or celebrates the viewer and takes advantage of supplementary text placement to bring ideas into sharper focus.

Create excitement by showing shoppers how many items have been sold, for example, or incorporate images to stimulate a threshold for shopping time.

While text is crucial in video, still images work differently, it seems. For static ads, including text in the image drives purchase rates down by 40%, VidMob found.

Whether you are using video or static creative to reach your customers, learning to speak the native language of each individual platform is crucial. 

The same ad or copy will not have the same impact across Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, TikTok and Facebook. Getting the medium and the message in line with the typical platform user, and their motivation for brand engagement, is essential for campaign success.

Creative effectiveness is the ultimate opportunity to drive revenue and win customers for life. And the appliance of tech science is bringing us closer to the reality where each and every euro of marketing spend will deliver a return.

Lisa Haskins
Lisa Haskins is the Irish Director of International Marketing and Operations for VidMob, located at the US company’s Dublin office on Sir Johnson’s Quay.

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