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Video advertising for FMCG brands

Written by Charlotte | 30-Nov-2016 17:06:00

Video continues to grow as a storytelling medium for brands and if you’re an FMCG brand then video is highly likely to be on your agenda but are you maximising this format to the best of its ability?

Video shouldn’t be your overall strategy as each distribution platform does video differently. Video content needs to be created for the platform that your audiences are on, rather than try and make existing assets fit multiple platforms. To help, we have put together this handy blog post to provide you with the tips and tricks to best optimise your video activity to social environments.

Facebook – “TV’s competitor”

Focus on storytelling

It might be easy to assume that the shorter the video ad the better the completion rates but ‘video length is actually less important than telling a cohesive and concise story’ according to Facebook. Your video ad shouldn’t be longer or shorter than it takes to tell your story well so create a storytelling arc from the first frame to the last that keeps your audience engaged along the way.

Give consideration to the media buying model

Facebook Video can be bought on a cost-per-view model where a view is classed as 3 seconds so brands are encouraged to use the first few seconds wisely. Consider showing your brand or products in the first few seconds so that your message is delivered as people scroll through their newsfeed looking for content.

Tell your story with or without sound

Facebook is a visual platform so don’t rely heavily on audio and use subtitles where possible. Users are more likely to engage with videos that are auto-played rather than click-to-play, however some users deactivate auto play videos to save on mobile data. A handy tip to combat this is to target mobile devices that are connected to Wi-Fi only.

Facebook videos are easily skipped so brands need to evoke emotion quickly to catch people’s attention and keep it. When a view is classed as 3 seconds either make your point clear within this time or use imagery to make people stop and take note.

A couple of FMCG brands who are using video well on Facebook are
Organic Valley and their Brononymous campaign along with Knorr and #loveatfirsttaste

Extend into other formats

360 videos that promise viewers an immersive experience are an opportunity to be considered for FMCG brands. We haven’t seen many examples in this sector but do like an early example by
Nestle and their #goodmorningworld campaign so first-mover advantages are to be had here to connect with your audiences in an innovative and exciting way.

Facebook Live and its ability to connect, engage and inspire also offers different ways to engage with your audience. We have seen FMCG brands stream behind the scenes footage of PR initiatives and even the filming of their TV ad to act as a teaser to the main campaign. Facebook Live is capable of delivering a sizeable number of views, comments and shares in a short amount of time and is something that
Dunkin Donuts experienced when they first tested the format. Their first Live broadcast was a behind the scenes look into their kitchen for Valentine’s Day featuring their culinary team preparing a cake made from heart shaped ‘donuts’. Within 13 minutes, they had over 21,000 views.

Tips for video styles

We were at an IAB video conference recently listening to a talk by Ian Crocombe, Head of Creative Shop at Facebook who provided some helpful tips for styling video content which lends itself well to FMCG brands;

  • Bookending
    • in a carousel style format begin with a video, then 3 stills, and then finish with a video
  • Heartbeat narrative
    • rewarding perpetual attention i.e. the ad gets sillier as it goes on
  • Zigs & Zags
    • The ad would hook you in, then show you a product, hook you in again then show you another product and so on
  • Start with the end
    • We were shown an ad for a washing liquid brand where it is shown backwards so a stain coming off a dress rather than a drink being spilt on it

Instagram – ‘stylised and curated’

Video is of growing importance on Instagram and thanks to its integration with Facebook’s advertising management platform has become one of the leading social media networks to invest video budget in.

Video ads on Instagram offer the same visually immersive quality as photo ads on Instagram and now can be posted up to 60 seconds and in landscape format. Instagram is built around shorter more aesthetic videos therefore using high quality content is a must. The most popular videos on Instagram tend to be around the 15 second mark which opens up the opportunity for brands to create micro-stories when telling a story however brands need to ensure that the content makes sense in isolation as well.
Ben and Jerry’s are a great example of a brand who has embraced video advertising on Instagram as a way of connecting with their fans and telling their story visually.


Our experience in running FMCG campaigns on Instagram has taught us that it is a good platform to make use of cinemagraphs due to the short duration and the auto-play nature. Cinemagraphs are glossy photos with subtle, isolated sections of movement. Here is an example of a cinemagraph ad we ran for New York Bakery Co;


Budweiser is another good example of an FMCG brand making use of the cinemagraph format.

Think silent

As with Facebook, sound doesn’t auto-play so as a brand you need to give consideration to how your video works without sound and it’s important to get to the action right away as the video does auto-play.

Hashtags are key to make your videos more discoverable and link to your social profiles.

Twitter – ‘conversations’

Twitter can deliver high reach and high involvement for your brand. Videos on Twitter are six times more likely to be Retweeted than photos, and three times more likely than GIFs. All this is great news for brands because they are such an important part of the content that appears on Twitter.

Twitter is a quick response platform and as a result video on Twitter can be used in response to questions from your audience i.e. host a Q&A, or respond to current events (this could be giving followers an insider look into an event you’re holding, or current events and international holidays).

Twitter video can also be used as a simple and quick way to thank existing followers and customers.

As with Instagram it is also a good platform for GIFs and cinemagraphs due to the smaller file sizes and these can be used to emphasise standard tweets (e.g. reacting GIFs).

Twitter is a mobile first platform and content on Twitter has always been mostly consumed on mobile. As many as 
93% of video views that happen on Twitter happen on a mobile device which emphasises the need for vertical formats. Use of people in the first few frames have been known on Twitter to deliver 2x viewer retention and brands see a 38% increase in ad recall once a viewer gets past 3 seconds.

Twitter creates the ability to spark conversations with video and with the launch of conversational ads this allows brands to include call-to-action buttons with customisable hashtags which encourages people to share a brand’s content with their followers. Each shared Tweet us powerful because it drives earned media for a brand at no extra cost.

As with Facebook, Live video on Twitter is becoming increasingly popular with brands wanting to create a live conversation with their customers by streaming events or key moments.

One of our favourite campaigns on Twitter was the #RedCups campaign by Starbucks who partnered with Twitter to build a custom emoji that would help spread cheer, appearing in any Tweet that included #RedCups. Starbucks launched the campaign on Twitter with a Promoted Trend and supported it with a variety of Tweets with images, videos and gifs celebrating their festive drinks range.

Snapchat – ‘sense of urgency’

Snap Ads begin with up to a 10-second vertical, full-screen video ad that appears in the context of other Snaps. Brands can also give Snapchatters the choice to swipe up and see more, just like they do elsewhere on Snapchat. Swiping up can reveal extended content like a longer form video, an article, app install ad or mobile website.

Recent research has found that ads don’t get to play for as long on average on Snapchat due to the urgent nature of the app and the quest for content, however two thirds of videos play with sound on.

Snapchat ads are averaging less than 3 seconds a view and the network has been working with advertisers to teach them how to create content for the platform in a way that will help prevent people quickly tapping through to the next video in the stream.

Formats are still very much experimental in the platform but brands who are willing to advertise on the platform are looking for that elusive younger audience who are on their phones more than they watch TV. Snapchat recognise that they won’t be able to make a sale for a brand in 3 seconds but know that they are starting a relationship and it’s this extension into further content that is working well for them.


Each of the platforms vary but there are no rules as such but what is vital for FMCG brands is that they stay creative and capture attention quickly. Investment needs to be made in content that grabs people’s attention and keeps it in order to obtain the full view and needs to be designed for the environment in which it is to be placed in.

Online ads shouldn’t be secondary to TV and in fact online offers an ideal test bed to inform above-the-line strategies due to its flexible pricing and timing along with the real-time insights that can be provided.