Man watching web commercial on laptop

How to make your web commercial stand out

It’s no surprise that in 2016, the average attention span of audiences is no more than a few seconds. When we catch a video on Facebook, we give it a few seconds and if we’re not interested we scroll on to the next thing. That can be pretty intimidating when it comes to bringing attention to a short commercial. But people still watch, like, and share commercials often enough. What is it about commercials that make people like it? What is it about commercials that people not like? Here are a few things you can do to optimize interest for your web-based commercials in our fast-paced, media-consuming public.

Cut to the Chase

Any professional film editor will tell you that storytelling is about key information. We don’t need to have a long-running clip of one guy’s wall unless it actually pertains to the message of the story. So with short films, commercials, and other web-based content, be sure that you are cutting out anything that is unnecessary, and only leaving in what is worthy of the story. That doesn’t just mean cutting based on frames; that also means whether or not to use entire scenes. A video might be one way as you write it, but when post-production comes along we often realize that that one scene we thought was totally essential was not at all necessary.

One technique often recommended in video production is planning the edit of the film before you shoot. This can be done through pre-visualization, which can be a prototype of your film done through storyboards, animation, or clips from past commercials and films. Whether you want to shoot based on that edit, or if you want to shoot in numerous ways in order to give yourself more options, it’s always better going in with a plan than having no plan at all.

Marry the Story with the Service

People don’t like to be pandered to. They may want a message, but they don’t tend to ask for it when they are looking for something to escape to. Every commercial has a service, just like how every story has message. But the videos that really stick with people are the ones that incorporate the message into an entertaining story. Think about Geico. Geico gives very dry, logistic information about saving money on car insurance. But with every Geico commercial, there is always the promise of an offbeat joke. Whenever a You-Tube ad comes up and it’s a new Geico commercial, people often won’t skip the ad because they want to see how the joke pays off. Now that is clever marketing.

Now let’s incorporate that type of storytelling into your service. Does your service tell a story? This seems like a no-brainer, but often enough the story of a commercial will often be a poor fit for the actual product. We’ve all seen those commercials that show large oceans or landscapes, with a narrator talking about the nature of life and deep philosophy. And then it finishes as a car commercial. What does that have anything to with the purpose of life?

Although that might be an extreme example, one thing we can learn from it is that many commercials put on a great presentation, but forget to showcase certain key elements that buyers are looking for. It’s not enough to say one good thing about a service; there needs to be a level of trust between the viewer and the commercial. Look at how Progressive does this. They have a charming, friendly demeanor, but they accompany that attitude with a clear explanation of their services. Every time we see Flo doing a funny antic, it is a metaphorical explanation of how Progressive provides for the audience. The service is clear, you feel like you can trust the company, and as a plus you had a good time watching the video.

What is Relevant?

People love to see things happening now. If something affects their real, personal world (especially live events) then people will stop, focus, and tell their friends to take a look. Those of us in modern western society are extremely socially conscious. Anything that can have an impact on our current day-to-day lives will grab our attention, since our day-to-day lives are what we’re constantly working to support in the first place. What is important is not just to make content about public concerns, but also to make content about concerns that no one else is talking about.

Buzzfeed is a master at this. Their videos are quick, funny, and always noticed because they speak for the unspoken. When they do a video about what it is like to have anxiety, so many people tune in because that is a topic often neglected in the mainstream media. Before you present your product, make sure you are presenting it to the people who would really need it. Present it to the people who would stop what they are doing to see what you’ve got.

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