Capturing Attention in Feed: The Science Behind Effective Video Creative

Every second on mobile matters. From the palm of our hands, we’re consuming and recalling more content faster than on any device ever before. According to Fors Marsh group tests, it takes only 0.25 seconds of exposure for people to recall mobile feed content at a statistically significant rate.1 And in News Feed on Facebook, we’re seeing people spend, on average, 1.7 seconds with a piece of content on mobile compared to 2.5 seconds on desktop.2

This fast-paced environment is evolving our expectations of what we consume in News Feed—we want to be drawn in by content native to its environment. This is becoming particularly important for video. From the initial impression to a complete view, we’ve seen that every moment of video drives value. And with over 100 million hours of video being consumed on Facebook every day,3 marketers have an opportunity to craft their mobile messages through video in ways that better meet our habits and expectations.

So, what creative elements help video ads stand out in mobile feed? And what keeps people engaged with video ads in mobile feed?



To answer the above questions, we looked at video ads in Facebook News Feed. To begin our study, we selected over 850 English-language-only video ads that were in market in the US and in Europe between Q4 2014 and Q4 2015. Our study then recruited people who did not have a creative or advertising background to watch then evaluate their experience with each video ad.

Each video ad was evaluated twice on 19 different questions grouped within four creative dimensions: first impressions, branding, messaging and video features. To mimic the mobile News Feed experience, the raters first watched the first 10 seconds of the video ad with sound turned off. Next, for a more in-depth evaluation of the video ads, the raters watched the first 30 seconds of the video with sound turned on. These data allowed us to understand what proportion of video ads met each of the 19 test criteria.

To better understand how creative elements impact brand performance, we combined each video ad’s scores to Ad Recall results from Nielsen Brand Effect studies performed while the video ads were in market. We were able to match over 600 video ads to over 200 Nielsen Brand Effect studies. Using a linear regression model, we used the raters’ scores to explain Ad Recall (while controlling for campaign characteristics). The model incorporated the creative elements tagged by raters and was able to account for 82% of the variation in Ad Recall scores (r2=0.82) and established the relationship between Ad Recall and the 19 questions the raters were asked to answer.

The analysis led to several implications about designing video creative for the mobile environment.


Optimizing video creative for feed

Think about scrolling through News Feed on your phone. Consumption is fast, frequent and sound-free. For these reasons, video ads on News Feed need to bring the brand to the front to capture people’s attention quickly and be understandable regardless of sound by using captions or other visual techniques.Facebook_IQ_Video_Tagging-01



Breaking through and making video ads memorable 

Through our models, we discovered characteristics that positively impacted Ad Recall results for video ads in Facebook News Feed. While mobile may be fast-paced, breaking through doesn’t have to be difficult.


We saw that the strongest Ad Recall scores occurred when video ad creative showcased the products or services, included conversations and brand links and got the message across succinctly with the right amount of information.


What it means for marketers

We’ve seen the effectiveness of coordinating messaging across channels and complementing digital marketing strategies with video.As mobile evolves the ways people engage with video, marketers should consider the unique opportunities feed-based environments like Facebook provide. Creative design with the screen in mind requires understanding how people interact with content—on whatever screen it may be—and the unique creative adjustments that must follow.

Design with the screen in mind: Video allows marketers to tell a story, evoke emotions and connect with people no matter the screen size. But video content development needs to be approached with the screen in mind. People have a unique interaction with mobile feed, and marketers should keep in mind the sound environment and quickness of mobile feed when developing creative.

Think holistically about creative: Coordinating your messaging across channels is important—we saw this in a recent study that showed a 19% lift in memory encoding when using Facebook to prime TV ads.4 When marketing across channels, marketers need to keep in mind the effective creative characteristics for each channel. When developing content for mobile feed, marketers need to consider creative characteristics—like visual cues and brand links—and how they work together to effectively deliver messages.

Get creative—Test, learn, iterate: The mobile-feed environment allows you to put your campaign creative’s effectiveness to the test and develop the most effective ways video can be leveraged within your creative strategy. By putting to action these creative considerations for video ads in feed, marketers will discover how small changes can uncover what works best to deliver brand objectives and reach the people who matter.


1 “Facebook and Twitter: Users Process Mobile Content Faster” by AdvertisingAge, Feb 2016.
2 Facebook data, Q3 2015.
3 Facebook data, Dec 2015.
4 “Project Primetime” by Neuro-Insight (Facebook-commissioned study of people ages 21–54 in US), Sep 2015.
5“Priming Across Screens: The Cross-channel Impact of Mobile and TV” by Facebook IQ, Dec 8, 2015.
Source unless otherwise specified: Video ad rating conducted internally by Facebook in Q4 2015: 2,183 Video Ad ratings corresponding to 965 video ads in market in the US and EMEA between Q4 2014 and Q4 2015. Video ad metadata obtained from Facebook internal data. Brand performance data based on Nielsen Brand Effect norms database.