Quick Takes: The Art of the 15-Second Video Ad

by | Feb 2, 2021 | Advertising, Creative, Video

Incorporating 15-second video ads into your advertising strategy can be an effective move to hold your prospects’ attention and spark their curiosity. But how do you grab your viewers’ attention in just 15 seconds?

I recently chatted with Anna Powers and McKinney Griffin, our head of creative and our visual content creator, about their latest 15-second video shoot. Here, they produced an ad for our client, Beautiful You Medispa. They discuss their roles as the producer and video editor, and explain exactly how you can best create this type of short story.

How did you come up with the concept for your 15-second videos?

Anna: All of these videos begin with a story. We start by sitting down and asking, what story are we trying to tell exactly? For these particular videos, we are trying to tell the story of our two target personas going to a medispa and having a nice medical treatment experience. Then we mapped out exactly what scenes we wanted to show.d settings.

When watching the 15-second videos you shared with me, I noticed that there were a few other people in the videos in addition to your two target personas.

Anna: Yes, I specifically asked McKinney for a diverse group of people to show we understand that the people who want injectables are of all genders, sexualities, races, and cultures. It’s important to reflect the reality of the spa, and I think we did a pretty good job of that. We filmed in the spa with Jill, the treatment provider, and both of our models actually got treatment. So it’s very realistic.

How long did preparations take for this shoot?

Anna: I would say it probably took us 15 hours to prep for these 15-second videos. This includes conceptualizing the shoot, writing the scripts, recruiting the models, securing the space, getting everything set up with the videographer, and so on. Essentially, managing the whole project.

McKinney: I typically prep for the shoot the night before. I go back over the script and look at what I need lighting-wise and what I need camera-wise. I’m thinking, will I need a stabilizer or gimbal? What kind of tripod will I need? I’m taking all things like that into account. It really varies depending on the project, but for these 15-second ads, it was maybe two hours of prep.

That’s a lot of time for 15 seconds, but I understand why it’s necessary. When the video is as short as 15 seconds, I’m sure you want to guarantee that it will be as perfect as possible.

Anna: That’s right. We also knew we only had 3 hours to film in the spa. If we missed a shot, there was no going back to get it. We couldn’t recreate the “day of” situation again, so I had to make sure that things were really buttoned up going in.

How important are details such as setting and music?

Anna: McKinney will tell you this too, but it’s crucial for the space to have good lighting, You need to have a bright and well-lit space, so it can accurately represent the vision that you’re trying to portray. And music sets the vibe. McKinney’s really good at picking music.

McKinney: Music affects the tone and the mood of the video. Whether people realize it or not, it’s very much a part of the brand identity of the company. For the Beautiful You ad, they said that they wanted something that was appealing to people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Immediately, I’m leaning towards 80s pop music because that’s more or less the era that they’re familiar with. And because it’s an ad about being your most beautiful self, you need to have some sort of audio that’s complementary to that. With every project I do, I try to make sure the music will reflect what the company is and what they want the viewer to feel and think.

Is there a certain number of people that should be present in a 15-second video?

Anna: Use as many as you need to tell your story and no more. Because it’s 15 seconds, you don’t want to introduce too many characters into the video. We have two characters in our video, our model and our service provider, and then we have three faces that we show at the end of the video. That’s a lot for 15 seconds. That’s five people. You want to create an impactful experience and not bombard your viewers with a ton of images that they have to figure out. So I always go with the simpler the better, and that usually means fewer people.

Is there a minimum or maximum amount of text that should be used?

McKinney: I typically put as much text as the client wants, but if I notice that the text is getting a little cumbersome, I’ll say something. We don’t want the text to take away from the video or start to distract viewers from the actual visuals.

Anna: Yes, you have to be very precise with your word count. We use 32 words in our script.

32 words across all 15 seconds or in one frame at most?

Anna: 32 words in 15 seconds. Because 32 words is not a lot, you can amplify the amount of information through title cards. We have a few title cards that talk about the benefits that Beautiful You can offer its customers, which gives us more space to convey its value proposition.

What do you do if you can’t fit all of the necessary information into 15 seconds?

Anna: You augment what you have in the video through the text-based ad that accompanies it. For instance, one of the items we did not get in the video is that the spa is right downtown and has dedicated parking, which is fairly rare for downtown businesses. So, if I wanted to include that information, I could put it in the text-based ad.

McKinney: I usually edit everything I have, with what we shot in mind, and not worry so much about the time or duration of the video. Once I’ve completed the vision or the story, I’ll shave it down and keep what is absolutely necessary.

Anna: Another strategy to consider is sending people to a landing page for more information. If the video and the ad are clickable enough, people will click through to that landing page. That’s the whole purpose of the campaign. The landing page will include a longer version of the video and more details on services. So once we get the user to take our desired action, then we can impart more information to them. The 15-second video is just the catalyst for them to learn more.

What is your favorite part or step in making a 15-second video?

Anna: My favorite parts are the beginning and end of the process. The beginning is fun because you have nothing. You have a blank page and you get to make it all come alive, and that’s very exciting. The end is really satisfying because you have this product that you all created collaboratively, and that’s also very exciting. After a video is done, you look at it in a year or so and you always forget the muddy middle, all the logistics that went into creating it. You look at the final product and say, wow, we’re pretty good at this.

What kind of video content do you need to effectively market your business?

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