A Guide to Video ad vs. Image ad: What’s The Better Choice?

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The numbers speak clearly: in recent years, video marketing has gained unprecedented traction. So, what does this mean for static image-based advertising? Is it going to be completely replaced by its in-motion counterpart?

Of course, not – the reality is more complex and multi-faceted. Let’s delve into the world of image ads and video ads, highlighting the pros and cons of both, and revealing what the future holds for these two types of advertising.

Image Ads: the Pros and Cons

An image really speaks a thousand words, and advertising gurus know this very well. The power of communicating a message in a visual fashion, as opposed to simply writing a series of words, is undisputed.

What’s to Love About Image Ads

Images have the potential to convey the meaning of an advert or campaign in an incredibly quick, compelling, and straightforward way. Think about social media, for example.

You’re probably familiar with this scenario – sitting on your couch at the end of a long day, you’re probably mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram or Facebook feed until something catches your attention. It might be a beautifully-shot picture of a product that you’ve been hunting down seemingly endlessly, or maybe it’s something that feels evocative and powerful to you.

Whatever it is, that image has stopped you in your tracks – and now you want to know more. Chances are, you’re going to click on the image, which in turn will take you to a different website or platform.

Once there, you might start browsing, get more familiar with the product and overall brand, and feel more compelled to purchase their products. This is, in a nutshell, how great, professionally executed image ad campaign works – and why so many brands love image ads.

Another reason why so many companies use – and will likely continue to use – image ads is because they’re much cheaper and more accessible than their video alternatives. With a relatively low budget, companies can create a huge range of image ads to disseminate across a massive range of platforms.

The versatility of image ads can’t be understated. Print, billboards, on the subway – it’s hard to think of a place where image ads don’t crop up. This, ultimately, helps these ads reach their target market with the right type of visual content at a fraction of the price of the video.

What’s not to Love About Image Ads

One of the main downsides of image ads is their fairly poor click-through rate. Because of this, image ads tend to generate fewer conversions, which leads to fewer sales.

Of course, because image ads are so conveniently priced, you can repurpose the same content for a different platform or campaign. Doing so means that you might still notice some positive results, although it might take you longer – and, unfortunately, this isn’t a foolproof tactic.

Video Ads: the Pros and Cons

Advertising a product using video as a medium is hardly a recent breakthrough marketing technique. After all, that’s exactly what TV adverts have been doing for decades now. What’s novel, though, is the channel through which video ads are broadcast, and the way audiences consume them.

What’s to Love About Video Ads

Unlike traditional TV ads, which can only be shown during specific commercial breaks, video ads in the digital era are much more pervasive and can generate a lot more opportunities.

Once again, let’s go back to our social media example. Think back to the image that you noticed while scrolling on Instagram. What if that had been, in fact, a video?

The chances are that you would have felt even more attracted to it and curious to know more. Video gives static images depth, motion, context, and, ultimately, more persuasive power. Holding the attention of the viewer is much easier with a short video, and this can eventually lead to more conversions and sales.

What’s not to Love About Video Ads

While image ads are quite accessible to most budgets, the same can’t be said of video advertising. Filming, production, post-production, and publication have very high costs that not every company can sustain. 

Of course, start-ups and bootstrapped entrepreneurs might choose to go down the DIY route, shooting video ads without the support of industry pros or adequate equipment. But will the results be as professional and appealing? Probably not.

Why Video Ads Perform Better

Having considered the strengths and weaknesses of both image and video ads, one pressing question remains: which ad type performs better?

As our headline suggests, the award goes to video ads. But let’s look at the specifics, and dig out some pretty striking figures and numbers.

Easier to Understand

Research has shown that 95% of a message that customers see in a video ad stays with them. Why is that? Simple: because a lot more information can be included in a video, even a very short one, the same can’t be said of image ads.

For an image ad to communicate exactly the same message or information as to its video counterpart, it will need to include a fair amount of text. This, ultimately, strips image ads of their innate power – the visual connection that had been established between image and viewer.

Videos can also explain even the most complex or lengthy type of message in a much nimbler, simpler, and smoother way. Let’s say you run a call center eCommerce operation. 

Anything from  call center coaching techniques to product guides, from relationship funnels to customer reviews can be included in a video, achieving a much more powerful and convincing effect.

More Credible and Authoritative

Another essential aspect to consider is that video ads help to enhance brand credibility.

With video ads, brands can tell the world what they’re all about, what their values are, and how they can improve their customers’ lives.

But there’s more. Brands can use video as a medium to educate and inform people about what their products or personalized services can do for them. By seeing the tangible benefits that these can bring, customers are more eager to like and trust brands – and to want to buy from them.

With video ads, companies can also tell their customers’ stories, showing how they went from using contact center solutions to maximizing  its features – all thanks to the company’s products or services. This is something that image ads, simply, are unable to do, or can’t achieve as effectively and convincingly.

Engaging, Emotional, and Empathetic

One of the most successful ways for a brand to attract more customers is to establish an authentic connection with its audience. This connection must run at a very emotional, very deep level: only by doing so will brands stand out in a fiercely competitive landscape.

And what better way to build that sort of empathetic engagement than by producing and publishing video content? Short clips – 90 seconds or less – reign supreme in the world of video advertising, and particularly on social media.

Video is the king of most social media platforms – especially the likes of Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. On Instagram, for example, video ads are three times more effective at driving engagement compared to sponsored images, and video marketing on Facebook has great results, too.

Essentially, video ads are an excellent way to boost the customer experience and should be a pivotal part of any customer experience mapping journey.

Top Three Types of Effective Video Ads

1. Vlog

If you’re looking to get started in video advertising, you might want to consider creating a vlog. Vlogs are, essentially, the video version of blogs. To get some ideas and inspiration, it might be worth checking out famous marketer Gary Vaynerchuck.

Vaynerchuck was one of the very first marketing folk to use live video and social media video in such a prominent way. His vlog, DailyVee, is a mix of live event recordings, social media clips, and Q&A sessions.

In a vlog, you can tackle pretty much any subject that you know your audience might be interested in, for an instance, Machine Learning Operations 101 (mlops explained). You may shoot a quick and quirky trivia or a day-in-a-life video, a vlog can be the best way to convey your message.

2. How-To Videos

Explainer, how-to videos can be a sub-category of vlogs, or they can be used as standalone video adverts. In these videos, you can provide practical, easy-to-follow guidance and instructions on anything from how to create an electronic signature in word to how to handle irate clients.

3. Customer Success Videos

Another great way to make your video ad truly stand out is by leveraging the voice of your customers to speak about the awesome features and benefits of your products or services.

Essentially, these videos are short, punchy, and extremely compelling customer reviews, which often end with a clear CTA that drives the viewers to buy the product or service advertised. By seeing other happy customers, and hearing about their amazing experiences with a brand, consumers are more inclined to feel trust towards that brand.

Creating Your Own Video Ads

Whether you’re after something left-of-center or a snappy mainstream bumper ad that runs for just a few seconds, making your own video ads isn’t as difficult as you might think. With proper planning, a bit of kit, and plenty of patience, you could have your very own video ad without the expensive outsourcing costs of hiring a professional video production company. 

Let’s look at a few elements that’ll help you knock the video-making game out of the park.

Storyboarding

When approaching your first video ad, storyboarding is the primary step on your cinematic journey. Much like how a writer will create an outline for a novel, the storyboard serves a similar function. 

A series of sketches of what action will take place, all the best marketing videos contain the following elements, so, make sure to include these in the storyboarding phase:

  1. Introduction
  2. A problem that needs to be solved
  3. The solution to the problem
  4. A call to action

Whether you’re any good at drawing or not, your storyboard can consist of simple outlines of characters, props, and scenes. 

Grab Their Attention

Making the first few seconds of your video ad count is crucial to encouraging your audience to view your ad in its entirety. Begin with a statement that will spark interest in your audience. Avoid firesale-style cliches and always be upfront and completely honest with your audience. Viewers can spot a chancer a mile off. 

A common approach is to address a shared problem that your demographic has, ask a question, or by extolling the virtues of your particular product or service. Bear in mind that a high percentage of viewers will be watching your ad on mute so make sure it’s also visually captivating right from the start. 

Audio

Often overlooked, audio is just as important as visuals (when unmuted, of course). Think back to the days of analog TV signals. If the image was a bit shoddy due to a poor signal, the program was still watchable. On the other side of the coin, if you were to watch a show with poor audio fidelity, you’d be more than likely to change channels or switch off completely. 

And this is the reason why audio is so important. Make sure you’ve got some decent kit and a pocketful of know-how and you’re set. 

Include a CTA

As the producer of your video ad, you’re hopefully going to have a pretty clear idea as to what kind of action you expect your viewer to make. But make it as clear as crystal. Cue the CTA (call to action).

Usually found at the end of an ad, your CTA will encourage your viewer to sign up for your newsletter, purchase a product, or take part in a giveaway, for example. Your CTA can be verbal, added in post-production via graphics or text, or even a customer service chatbot pop-up.

The Takeaway

While image ads are still widely used by most businesses around the world, it’s no doubt that video ads are getting increasingly popular – and with good reason.

This guide explored the pros and cons of both image and video ads and highlighted why video ads are the real winners of the digital advertising game.

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