5 ways B2B brands are breaking the mould with video advertising

Spending on display video was up 27%* for the first half of 2019, which is no surprise to me. We investigated the top performing videos on LinkedIn. A quick glance at my newsfeed tells me B2B brands are fully embracing video on LinkedIn. 

However, short of being told not to churn out content for content’s sake, we recognised there is a lack of guidance on creating videos that impact the business purchase decision-making process of professional audiences. With that in mind, we’ve embarked on a research initiative to identify the characteristics of top performing video ads on LinkedIn for different marketing objectives. 

We conducted a qualitative analysis of more than 38,000 video campaigns on LinkedIn, looking at performance based on: view-through rate, engagement rate, completion rate, and click-through rates (CTR). Using these measurements, we identified the 269 top-performing video campaigns in EMEA and compared them to videos that performed less well. We looked at elements such as subject matter, video length, the use of sound, the style of storytelling, and the type of visuals. 

We found that:

1. GIFs are dead. micro-storytelling reigns for upper funnel video content

The strongest performing content among videos with high view-through rates were micro-stories. These style of short videos compresses an emotional arc – or teases out smaller elements from a larger information-based piece – in under 10 seconds. By contrast, animated GIFs are little more than the social media equivalent to a blinking roadside billboard. An animated GIF is great at making eyeballs pause, but they are often too short to convey any useful information, particularly when it is related to professionals considering whether to make big investments in a new vendor.

Micro-storytelling in action:

Bayer’s short video stories humanised medical thought leadership issues and drove exceptional reach and engagement. They used the copy surrounding the ad to convey research learnings – but used the video visuals to tug at emotional heartstrings.

2. Drive engagement with must-watch moments

Video content tops any other format in terms of engagement. We see a 30% increase in comments with video ads versus ads using static imagery. 

When we looked at the top performers with video engagement, we saw the widest array of content type here – from thought-leadership to product features/demos and case studies to events. While the margin in the set was small, there was a higher engagement rate with thought leadership.  

So, what makes viewers comment, like and share? These videos create must-watch moments that compel action. They focus on things like common experiences or challenges many people share. These videos also feature humans whenever possible.

Must-watch moments in action:

SITA promoted new research on the impact of lost luggage on airline customers’ experience through a compelling stat that a researcher delivered straight to camera, in a direct, concise style. The human connection got people talking. 

3. Demonstrating an urgency is key to driving clicks

We wanted to look beyond the trope of clear and concise call-to-action copy when it comes to clicks and better understand what visual techniques are used to drive clicks. 

Videos that drive clicks use motion to their advantage – they don’t rely on a montage of still photography. They show movement and create suspense. This can be as simple as an unboxing video, ranging up to more sophisticated uses of editing and showing movements. For example, instead of an actor holding a map, the actor might unroll it. 

In terms of content type, thought leadership and case studies tended to have high click-through rates. 

Urgent visualisation in action:

Jabra’s elegantly shot unboxing video for its professional headsets shows how product video can drive action through modelling the action that brands want people to take. 

4. Breaking the sound barrier

On LinkedIn, 79% of videos are watched with the sound off. To get the results you want, brands need to consider how to communicate on mute. The bedrock of sound-off video is captioning. However, we saw some brands further lean into a soundless storytelling experience. Some brands leveraged the facial expressions and movements of actors so that they told a story without a dialogue.  

Visual storytelling in action:

Acciona’s video campaign promoting ethical investment includes a powerful and recognisable soundtrack. Mad World, by Tears for Fears, was the audio focal point of the ad and no other script was used. Knowing viewers would watch with the sound off, the brand subtitled the song lyrics. This increased the value of the brand’s choice of soundtrack by prompting viewers to consider the meaning of each line.

5. Have a purpose for measuring completion rate

Making sure that viewers finish watching a video isn’t the same as making sure that they engage or act. Interestingly, some of the top performing videos for completion rate had some of the lowest metrics for CTR and engagement. This inverse correlation proves what a lot of marketers may already have suspected – brands can often generate the desired action without requiring viewers to watch to the end.

Balancing value and completion rate:

When used in isolation, optimising content for completion rate can be a race to the bottom. Instead, consider how to use completion rate best:

  • Relevancy: It can be helpful when used to understand content stickiness for your audience. 
  • Nurturing: When paired with retargeting, completion rate can help nurture an audience and become an important piece in a full-funnel strategy.

As with any ad creative, video content is not an exact science, despite the myriad of ways marketers can measure its success. And as cultural trends change and viewers grow in sophistication, best practices will continue to evolve. The best way to learn what works for your brand is to keep experimenting, and have fun doing so!  

*IAB UK: UK digital advertising spend increases to £7.3bn in H1 2019

Get Stacked 2020

Make sure you're one of 400 B2B leaders, tech marketers and modern marketing heroes at Get Stacked – The B2B Marketing Technology Conference.

Book your ticket now

Get Stacked 2020 logo