How to Write a Video Ad People Actually Want to Watch

If you’re going to be making any sort of marketing video, you’re going to want people to watch it, right? Well, I’m going to tell you the secret of how you can get that to happen.

Here it is: Make videos that people actually want to watch.

Crazy, right?

I know it seems really straightforward, but let’s be honest, when was the last time you watched all the way through a YouTube ad? (at least, when YouTube gave you an option to “skip ad”). Most marketing videos are just plain bad.

On the other hand, a great marketing video makes you want to keep watching, even after the “skip video” option shows up.

That’s the kind of video you want to be making.

If your video ads bore your potential customers, you’ll lose their interest quite quickly. But, if you can put together a video ad that captures their interest, you just might capture their business, too.

Now, before I lose your interest, let’s cut to the chase and get into exactly how to write a video ad that people actually want to watch.

Start with a Hook

Is advertising like fishing? Yeah, you can probably make that argument. So, let’s use a fishing metaphor.

As a marketer, you’re a fisherman. A fisher “of men”, to be more precise.

End of metaphor.

Your goal is to hook to your audience, which means your hook had better look enticing to your prospective customers, because if they just see a shiny hook, they’ll know exactly what it is and click away before they feel like you’re going to start selling to them.

So you need to trick them.

Do something that will catch people’s attention, and let it lead them into thinking about your product or service. An amazing example of this is BlendTech’s “Will It Blend” ad campaign. This commercial has been up for about a year and has over 5 million views.

Wanton destruction of property is something people just love watching. It’s fascinating to watch common objects that you wouldn’t ever expect to see blended get torn apart in a blender. It ups the ante even more when it becomes objects too expensive for you to ever consider personally blending, like an iPhone.

Elements like this made the “Will it blend?” campaign one of the most successful online viral video ad campaigns of all time (at least according to AdvertisingAge).

If you can surprise your audience and give them a question they actually want to find the answer to, you’ve got them hooked.

This really becomes important if you’re doing TrueView video ads on YouTube. While that “skip ad” option may be your best friend if you’re binge watching the Chewbacca Woman, as a marketer, it means you have just five seconds to catch people’s attention.

Use it wisely.

If you lose viewers at 5 seconds, at least you get a bit of branding opportunity, but let’s be real: You want people to buy after they see your ad and you want them to watch the whole thing.Having a good hook is almost half the battle. If people aren’t caught from the beginning, they won’t be able to see the rest of your content, even if it is really good.

Make Your Ad Really Good

As a comedy writer, I have written some really good scripts…and some really terrible scripts. But, while I’ve become a pretty good writer over the years, what I think is good comedy doesn’t always make other people laugh.

Ultimately, what you like or dislike isn’t always a good predictor of how your audience will respond. Remember, you are not your target audience. So, make sure that you have your buyer personas in mind when you’re writing (and that goes for all content really).

As you write the middle portion of your content, keep it focused on the pain points of your potential customers.

Have you seen those AllState “Mayhem” ads? They do a brilliant job of highlighting tons of pain points that their customers might encounter. The mayhem guy always personifies the pain point, and then shows it in an interesting way, like this:

Doing this for your own ads will be one of the most fun parts of the writing process. Find ways to bring up the pain point you’re addressing that will be engaging, interesting, and relatable. Even though the mayhem guy is a completely fictional character, the problems he ultimately causes are usually relatable (like the texting girl commercial above).

This commercial is also effective in the way that it shows how AllState can cover you if you experience any of these problems, while reminding you of the consequences you might face if you don’t have insurance.


PRO TIP

Write your first draft. Then revise it. Then get some feedback and revise it again. Repeat this process 3-4 times at the very least. Revision is the key to making your content really solid.


Once you’ve written great middle content that addresses your audience’s main pain point (or pain points, depending on the length of your commercial) and shown how you can provide relief for that pain point, it’s time to put together a solid ending.

Create a Killer Ending

The ending of a commercial is almost as important as the beginning is. If it becomes some lame “buy our product” sort of thing, people will stop watching.

You want your customers to be engaged with your call to action, so make it interesting.

Case in point, in another set of AllState’s commercials, they end the ad by asking “Are you in good hands?” This implies that you may not be currently covered by your insurance in the way that you want to be, and makes you want to check your insurance policies.

If nothing else, it gets AllState stuck in your mind.

If they had said “Buy our insurance, because we’ll cover you better” that wouldn’t be as effective now would it? It says the same thing that is implied by “are you in good hands?” but it doesn’t let your potential customer come to the conclusion for themselves.

Brainstorm creative ways of saying your call to action, and develop one that fits your ad. Think about what you want your customer to do at the end of your ad, and then find a creative way to say it.

When you’re doing this, write out a ton of possibilities, and then pick your favorites to try out.


PRO TIP

Again, just like with your hook, pick at least three endings, film them all, and then test them out to see which one will work the best. This will give you the best results you can get out of your video.


Ideally, these endings will lead right into your creative call to action. The end goal of all ads is to get people to some sort of decision, so make sure you have that information in it. Make your ads that people want to watch, and end them with people knowing what they should do next.

Conclusion

Video ads will never be effective if people don’t want to watch them. You need a killer hook, rock-solid content, and an intriguing ending to really make your ads work.

If you want help with any of this, let me know here or in the comments. I always love reading a good script (or even a bad one)!

What do you think of these recommendations? Do you have any other examples you would add? Are there any other things you would add that go into writing a great commercial?

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Brad Witbeck

Creative Director & Head Writer
When he's not heading up Disruptive's Video Advertising efforts, you can usually find Brad on a video shoot somewhere, writing a new comedy routine, or studying more acting and writing techniques with his drop-dead gorgeous wife.

3 Comments

  • Glenda says:

    Nice article, Brad! Thanks for sharing these strategies. Marketers should not only venture out to using videos on their websites but should really make sure that these videos are not “meh”. After all, the attention span of viewers, according to stats is just 6 seconds. If you didn’t hook them by then, you’re out.

  • Courtney says:

    Hi brad. Thanks for these great tips! My company is known for some pretty disruptive video ads but the writer who wrote them is gone and I am now tasked with writing some follow ups for an offer. Would love your opinion on some ideas if you happen to have the time. Thanks for writing this!

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