How to Create a Video Ad and Use it to Promote Your App
Advertising for apps has been growing over the past few years, including the use of video.
It’s only natural that ad networks have emerged to offer app developers a way to promote their app using video ads. The giants (Google via YouTube, Facebook and soon Twitter) now have an offering as well.
Although there are many ways to use video to promote your app, video ads is a paid acquisition channel that seems here to stay. But how to get started and produce your own video? Let’s dive into it.
Which Video Ad Network?
First, let’s take a quick look at the different players.
- YouTube video pre-roll ads (TrueView mobile app promotion): YouTube pre-roll ads have been available for a while, but using them for mobile app campaigns is more recent. The fact that you can target the channel(s)/video(s) where you display your ad is very powerful, and you can have an “install” call to action that allows potential customers to download the app directly from the video ad
- Facebook video ads: Just like you have “image” ads on Facebook, you can also promote your app to mobile users with video ads on Facebook. A call to action right below the ad takes them straight to their mobile app store
- Ad networks: There are now several ad networks specializing in video ads: Vungle, UnityAds, AdColony. Some ad networks like Chartboost or Tapjoy also have a video ad offers. Others like Supersonic can use several ad networks to promote your video ads.
There is no standard for how these ad networks work and each one requires video creatives in different formats. However, they all advise short videos, often 15-20 seconds.
YouTube might is a bit of an exception here, as the recommended format is 20-40s. Any interaction with your video (other than skipping) is counted as a view, for example watching more than 30s of your video ad or tapping the “install” button. So by having a 10s or so call to action at the end of your 20s video, you can make sure that you pay only for interested viewers.
How to Create Your Video Ad?
If you decided to create your video yourself rather than have an agency produce it, below are some tips to help you get started.
Planning: preparing your script
You need to prepare, and define the scenario for your video ad. For a 15/20s video you have to boil it down to the essentials of your app to present it in such a short time. You want to showcase the “magic”/unique value proposition of your app as soon as possible. With YouTube TrueView ads, there is a 5 second window before viewers can skip your ad so it’s critical to get to the point quickly.
If you’ve already written it, your app description is a good place to start. Also think about your “elevator pitch” or how you present your app when you have to quickly explain it to someone.
Here’s a good way to proceed after that:
- Write a synopsis with bullet points to define the flow of the video, with timing, and what you’re going to highlight
- Write a more detailed script: once you’ve had some feedback on your synopsis and refined it, define exactly what visuals you’re going to use, which products for a shopping app, which levels/combos for a game, etc.
- Take your screen captures
- Edit everything together
A few tips:
- Avoid the knowledge trap: Keep in mind that you’re presenting an app to someone who unlike you, might have never heard of it, and doesn’t have your knowledge of the topic
- Keep it short: For a 15s/20s video you don’t really have a choice anyway. You’re not going to be able to show everything. Do your best to keep texts displayed on screen below 4 or 5 words
- Start strong: You need to highlight what’s most important/unique fast
- Include a strong call to action: At the end of your 15s video, make sure you have your app name, app icon, app store badges and a call to action like “Download now!”
- Comply with video formats/guidelines: Before producing your video, make sure you have a good understanding of the format required (length, type of file, specific guidelines, etc.)
Finding a voice over
15s is a short time, and a voice over can help you get your point across more efficiently, but it’s not mandatory. Unless you’re experienced and have the necessary equipment, you need to leave the voice over recording to the professionals.
Background music can set the tone for your video ad. If you’re doing a video for a game, you might consider using some of the game’s music. Keep in mind it’s important to select music that goes well with your visuals and the pace of the video.You can also take a look at some royalty-free stock music on websites like Pond5, Premiumbeat or Audiojungle.
- Screen captures: Capturing high quality video footage from your app is quite easy with iOS 8 and Android Lollipop
- Device images: For Apple, you can download the official .psd files in the App Store marketing guidelines. For Android, you’ll have to find your own
This is often the toughest part if you don’t have someone with video editing skills on your team. Luckily for you, some resources are available on how to use tools like Adobe After Effects on YouTube and on Adobe’s website. There are some great After Effects templates that you might be able to adapt for your needs. You might want to also check out our upcoming App Video School. Keep things simple and don’t try to do fancy transitions.
When you’re done creating your video, you need to render it so you can use the files on video platforms and ad networks. The most common at the moment is to render 720p (HD Ready – 1280×720) and 1080p (Full HD – 1080×1920) .mp4 files. Those will work on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and most ad networks.
Using your video
As with any other paid user acquisition campaign, you need to monitor and optimize for the best return on investment. So don’t hesitate to try several ad networks, starting with small budgets. Tweak your campaigns to improve results and increase spending on the channels that work best.
Testing different videos
If you have the budget and/or the time to create different videos for a mobile app campaign, you should definitely do it.
It can be a different way to start your video for example.
A word on thumbnails/download frames
Your video is not the only creative asset you’ll need for a video ad campaign. Sometimes you might also need to define/create a thumbnail for your video. This asset is critical, as it will affect the number of potential users that start watching your video. Make sure to design it to be as compelling as possible.
On most ad networks, when your video is done playing, a still frame with a download button is displayed. This is when users will be asked to take action and download the app, so here too you want to have a compelling visual.
Let’s recap quickly before we end:
- Plan your video and write a script before starting: make it short, showcase what’s unique about your app and have a strong call to action
- Look for a good fit between your music and the pace/visuals of your video
- Record the highest quality screen captures possible and edit your video. Tutorials and resources on editing tools like After Effects can help you improve your skills. Keep it simple if you’re just getting started.
- Pick a couple of video ad networks and start testing which ones work best, tweaking your mobile app campaigns to make the most out of them
Have you tried promoting your app with video ads? Would love to hear your experience and the challenges you faced!
About the author:
Sylvain Gauchet is the co-founder of Apptamin and App2Video, and is very experienced in the mobile marketing field. Apptamin can help developers better promote their apps by creating cool app videos and sharing what what the Apptamin team has learned. App2Video is a new tool allowing developers to easily produce their own app videos.