Facebook Video Ads: What You Need to Know

If there was a drinking game where social media marketers had to take a shot anytime 2016 was declared ‘the year of video,’ your Twitter timeline would be a lot livelier. We’ve heard it time and time again, but the importance of video in digital marketing today cannot be overstated. While getting your video seen organically is important, video advertising is also a huge opportunity you don’t want to miss out on.

With over 50 percent growth in video viewing on the platform, Facebook video ads are a smart place to dedicate your resources. Facebook’s user base grew to 1.65 billion in 2015, and these people are returning to their News Feeds about 14 times per dayso there’s a good chance that you can get your video ad seen by the audience you want. This guide will help you master Facebook video ads in 2016–the year of video, in case you hadn’t heard.

How to make better Facebook video ads

Know your audience

You wouldn’t try to sell a Florida timeshare to a baby, and knowing who you’re selling to with your Facebook video ads is just as important. Who is your target audience? What do they like? How old are they? What kind of content do they respond to? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, our guide on How to create buyer personas with social media data” can help you better understand who your customers are.

Once you know who you are targeting with your Facebook video ads, you are able to tailor your content to them. Through Facebook’s ad targeting page, you can target your ad to focus on location and demographics like age, gender and interests. You can even target your ad to people based on what they do off of Facebook.” The categories you can refine your ad targeting to include are:

  • Location, Age, Gender, and Language
  • Interests
  • Behaviors
  • More Categories (Facebook or partner categories you’ve requested access to)
  • Connections

After you’ve posted a video ad, you can login to Ad Manager and see an overview of those who have watched at least a part of your video (a person has to watch for at least three seconds to qualify as a viewer), and those who watched the entire thing. If somebody’s watched your entire video, there’s a good chance that they’re interested in your product or service. You can then create a custom audience for these leads—meaning that your video will be seen by the most valuable audience possible. As AdEspresso explains, “What’s more, video view custom audiences are now dynamically updating every day, instead of not being created until a few days after a lifetime budget campaign is completed. You can easily tell who’s responding to your ad—in real time.”

The medium is the message

When making a Facebook video ad, it’s important to consider the content that works best for the platform. As Wistia CEO Chris Savage explains to AdEspresso, “Video brings people back into the equation and lets that kind of relationship come alive on the Internet. It lets you take your company and show it to people in a whole new kind of light, and it lets customers see you for who you really are: a collection of people who care about what you do and who you serve.”

To make the most of your Facebook video ads, treat them (for the most part) as another form of social video content. Make ads that don’t obnoxiously scream “ADVERTISING!” at your viewers in order to keep them engaged. Our guide to social video includes the following tips to help make them successful:

  • Design it to be shareable from the get-go
  • Use the power of storytelling
  • Make the customer the hero, and engage them
  • Emotions lead to sharing
  • Shorter is (almost) always better
  • Always start strong (the first 30 seconds of a video, according to Wistia)

You need to be able to capture your audience quickly, so keeping your video ad short is a priority. What would you want to watch? I, personally, would probably lose interest in a video ad if it was over three minutes long or didn’t have puppies. 

Wistia posted two videos in one of their blog posts and found that 72 percent of their audience watched one of the videos, and only 50 percent watched the other.

The only difference between the two videos? 10 seconds of length, which was removed from the more popular video. Wistia explains, “Psychologists say that the average human sustained attention span is 20 minutes. But for online videos, it seems to be about 60 seconds.”

In addition to keeping your video short, Wistia offers the following tips for keeping your audience engaged with an online video:

  • Put the good stuff in the beginning
  • Be specific (make sure every shot contains specific and new information)
  • Keep it personal so that your audience can relate (focus on the customer)

How to make a Facebook video ad

If you aren’t sure how to begin making a Facebook video ad, Facebook provides a 90 second video and the following tips to get you started:

“From your Page, click the arrow on the top right corner and choose ‘Create Ads.’ Then select ‘Get Video Views’ to start.

  • Set your targeting, budget and schedule. Select interests, behaviors, location, age, and gender of the audience you want to reach. Then set your budget and schedule.
  • Choose your video. Upload a new video or use one from your library and select a thumbnail image.
  • Add text. Write a clear and simple message that encourages your audience to view your video.”

Mobile video ads

A whopping 65 percent of Facebook’s 8 billion daily video views are watched on mobile—so it’s important your ad content is optimized for mobile. From 2012 to 2014 there was a 532 percent increase in mobile (smartphone and tablet) video views, and it’s fair to assume that this isn’t a phase.

As Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg said, “Businesses are no longer asking if they should market on mobile, they’re asking how. This is a shift that we think we’re very well-positioned to take advantage of and build on.”

As Facebook’s video ads page states regarding mobile uploads, “Directly uploaded videos perform better and provide a better experience for people than videos from other websites” with 30 percent more video views and up to 11 times larger images in News Feed.


One of the first steps in creating your Facebook video ad is choosing your objectives. When in your Ad Manager or Power Editor page making a new video ad, you must choose a video objective to focus your campaign. The options provided by Facebook include:

  • Clicks to website
  • Product Catalog Sales
  • Website Conversions
  • Page Likes
  • Mobile App Installs
  • Event Responses
  • Video Views

Think about what your goals for your video ad campaign are, and base your objectives on this. Are you interested in building brand awareness through video views and Page likes? As Facebook explains, the video views objective automatically optimizes your video to show to people most likely to view it on Facebook. This feature will help “increase your reach to more people” as well as “improve efficiency for your video ads.” In knowing what your objectives are, you are able to more effectively understand your video’s results.


You’ve put a lot of effort into your Facebook video ads, so you want to know that they’re paying off. Facebook provides metrics for you so that it’s as easy to see how your video ads are performing. As Facebook explains, “video metrics In Ads Reporting, under the Customize Columns button can give you insight into how to improve your video.”

Hubspot goes into more detail regarding the metrics you want to track with your Facebook video ads. They suggest focusing on the following three areas:

  • Conversion KPIs
  • Engagement KPIs
  • Audience reach KPIs

Keep track of what Facebook video ads are bringing the results you want, and tailor the content of your ads to find what works, and what doesn’t.
In case you forgot, video is dominating the social media landscape in 2016 (where’s that cocktail?). Using Facebook video ads, you can use the power of the medium to easily boost the reach of your message and connect with the most valuable audience members possible.

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