An Inside Look at Effective Brand Storytelling with Facebook In-stream Ads

Peter Smyth

Peter Smyth

VMG Digital Chief Operating Officer

“No story lives unless someone wants to listen” (JK Rowling). 
“No story thrives unless someone chooses to tune in” (VMG Digital).

Sitting at number 10 on the all-time best selling authors, Rowling is likely not a bad person to listen to when it comes to crafting a narrative fit for an audience. Despite the first dozen publishers not recognising the Harry Potter series value) , readers and viewers felt otherwise.

4T’s of media 

Today, we have the tools to better understand and optimise performance;

  • test its performance and track impact across a range of methodology.
  • target specific demographics, geographics, interests and context. throttle for reach and frequency, cost per or completed views, day-parting.
  • tailor our message to enable connection with the masses in nuanced ways.

When a publisher (Bloomsbury) eventually did take on the Potter series, the decision was made upon the insistence of the Chairman’s 8 year old daughter – the lessons here are that 1) Very often we (as marketers) are not the intended audience 2) It costs very little to test 3) Scaling doesn’t have to mean millions. 

NB: The Philosopher’s Stone’s first run was just 500 (not missing a zero) printed editions.

Facebook’s In-Stream provides a truly captive audience 

It was Cannes 2016 when Fox News President of Advertising Joe Marchese described attention as “the world’s most valuable resource.”  It is our belief that the captive audience pretuned for sight, sound and motion represented by in-stream provides a fantastic opportunity to capitalise on this captive attention and deliver on the 4T’s.

What the science tells us

  1. Ads that get to the point in the first few seconds are proven to deliver stronger branding results;  
  2. Adding motion including fast edits commands focus, boosts audience engagement; 
  3. Showcasing the unique attributes of the business including consistent colours, fonts, logos, personalities, and featuring the product early furthers the brand correlation; 
  4. Embedding emotion in the storyline, through voice over, music and character-lead plot helps create ‘a feeling’ that can stay long in the memory of our audience.

Outcomes of considered in-stream creative

Combined together, these have been proven to take an otherwise average advertising message to the top performing percentiles. These creatives that present unique brand assets well throughout the ad are likely to perform better than ¾ of the pack. 

Furthermore, when considered motion and editing are applied, we would expect to see the ad perform in the top 10%. Finally, when we showcase the benefit of the business, we could expect to see performance go into the 90%+ range – a performance lift from 38% to 94% impact prediction. (Source: Kantar and Meta 2021).

VMG Digital + Sephora for Taiwan | The 3P’s

Simplifying the many value propositions Sephora brings to market meant stripping back the creative to two distinct concepts. The first focused on the range and flagship products offered by Sephora, and the second centred on consumer feedback on Sephora’s beauty and lesser known skin care range. The result is something fresh and authentic to their brand and has helped establish themselves in the market with creative fit for the campaign purpose, targeted people and platform environment.

The Mobile medium is more than a pocket sized screen.

As for the environment to experience these messages, perhaps today’s greatest medium sits in our pocket and beside the bed, on our retina touch screen, highly personalised mobile devices. As such, our expectations of anyone entering this space is that they treat the end recipient with respect of their time and attention and where possible, deliver relevancy.

In-Stream Now and Then

When Meta launched In-stream ads back in 2018, the platform provided an avenue for TVC extension, enhanced by the rich targeting capabilities and frequency control available on the Facebook platform. More recently we have begun to appreciate the balance and value of this horizontal 15 second format in a multi-channel strategy, and now the cost and impact benefits when added to existing Meta formats Feed and Stories has been proven. 

Learn more about Meta’s multichannel video strategy here

VMG + Asus for Vivobook (South East Asia) Feed | Stories | In-stream

For Asus, it was the combination of formats partnered with considered creative design for each in a placement optimised Meta campaign that helped drive click through rates up 71.4%. Brand results saw stronger ad recall and top of mind awareness, as well as association with the smart pad and nano edge display features, highlighted as key functional differentiators for the product offering in the crowded marketplace.

Closing thoughts

Where does this see digital video headed? 

  1. VMG believes that consumer choice will increasingly guide creative design. These ‘to tune-in or not’ decisions are going to be made in increasingly shorter periods of time, placing more weight on the opening video hooks and should lead to chaptering the narrative to continue to provide reasons to stay with the message. 
  2. Mindfulness of the audience, environment, and context in which the ad is being seen. When we put ourselves in the world of the consumer and are respectful of the format nuances, we have gone some way to earning the right to request time from them which could be spent on quite literally anything else. 
  3. Finally a connected creative strategy off and online, and within Meta surfaces will see repetition not of the same ad but of the central campaign message delivered in a considered and nuanced way. We believe this thoughtfulness will be repaid in consideration of the brand’s message and offering.

Storytelling has found a home in the horizontal aspect, and with half of all time on Facebook and Instagram spent watching video (Meta Internal data, Feb 2022). Now is the time to tell your brand story where more people still go everyday to stay connected.

Learn more about Meta’s multichannel video strategy.

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