17 best practices direct response video ads

17 Best Practices for Creating Direct Response Video Ads

There’s no simple way to create a direct response video ad that generates the leads and/or sales you want. But, we’ve put together common guidelines that you can apply and test for your videos.

The secret weapon for direct response videos isn’t creating a single killer ad, but multiple that you can test at different lengths and in different formats for the highest engagement and performance. First, you have to start making these videos.

Keep the following checklist in mind and your videos should get out of the gate at a good pace.


1. Captures Attention Quickly (Video should ‘hook’ the user within the first 3 seconds. Many viewers drop off or skip if there is nothing to draw them in such as intriguing visuals or questions, community building prompts, etc)

2. Has Brand Messaging Within first 10 Seconds

3. Is as Short as it Can Be, and as Long as it Needs to Be (15-35 seconds is the sweet spot for the majority of scenarios, but a longer video may be necessary to deliver a more complex message)

A study by Kinetic Social shows completion rates at different video lengths, detailing how 30-60 second spots have the highest completion rate.

emarketer fb video length study

Note that different industries will have varying rates and that data was pulled exclusively from Kinetic Social’s platform. Andrew Vaber shows how conversion rates may vary alongside different video lengths for eCommerce and video gaming:

CVR Andrew Waber Video StudyCVR Andrew Waber Video Study eCommerce

4. Strong CTA (Call-to-Action) at the end (directs viewer to your products/services)

Script Elements:

5. Tells A Story (life before product/service, critical point driven to find product/service, life after product/service)

6. Has Emotional Tone (Anger, Sadness, Happiness, etc.)

7. Creates a Feeling Of (Hope, Relief, Laughter, etc.)

8. Teaches Audience Something New (Little Known Fact About Industry/Product/Service/Life etc.)

9. Creates a Sense of Belonging to a Community (athletes, hard workers, creators)

10. Relevant to Target Audience

11. Your Video Can Be Summarized in 1 Sentence; It Is Simple & Shareable

Visual Elements:

12. Video has a Thumbnail that Invites Viewer to Watch (works with your 3 second “hook” to build interest)

FB - Thumbnail & Captions

13. Thumbnail Contains Minimal text

14. Thumbnail Sets Up Expectations for Video (no negative surprises or disconnects between thumbnail + video)

15. Video Displays Value (visualizes the experience of getting value from product/service)

16. Understandable without Sound – e.g. “Worksafe ads” (lots of digital video consumption is done on mute)

Direct Response Video Sound off

17. Has Captions for Muted Delivery

Ad Examples:

• Boundless: Value Visualization – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXt72ElM37c

• Upside Travel: Feeling/Story/Audience – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhukWMrTU54

• Fender Play: Light, Target Audience – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6ada1kvgEw

• Squarespace: Feeling, Target Audience, Story, Length, CTA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2oChZoryZo

• Capital One: Story, Benefit, Captions, Length, CTA – https://www.facebook.com/CapitalOneCanada/videos/10212032536962870/

Audience Targeting:

If you don’t know who your video should be relevant to, think about what you want to accomplish with your video in the following audience terms:

Cold Audience:
They are unaware of their problem, but they fit your target demographic. They need to realize their problem fully before being open to your solution.

They are cold because they aren’t usually ready to make a purchase. They do not know or care about your brand.

Cold audiences will respond to direct response video ads that offer links to more information, demos, videos, etc.

Warm Audience:
They are aware of their problem and they want to make an informed decision about whether to purchase a solution or not. They are warm because they are seeking knowledge and information about the solution your brand offers.

If you can deliver more information about your brand’s solution, your brand will become an authoritative figure and trustworthy for this audience.

Warm audiences will respond to your direct response videos that offer more information, promotions, ebooks, tools, etc.

Hot Audience:
They are highly aware of their problem and they need a solution. They are hot because they are ready to find a solution, but they do not know if it will be your brand’s particular solution.

They’ll choose your brand’s solution if you insure that their particular concerns are addressed and their desired specific solution is visualized.

Hot audiences will be most susceptible to your direct response videos that call for sales or leads.

Ideally, you’d have a video for each audience to create sequenced storytelling

Technical Requirements:

Here are technical requirements to check off for major video networks, including specifics for YouTube & Facebook

  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratios are acceptable. (Examples of each are 16:9 – 854×480; 1280×720; 1920×1080 and 4:3 – 480×360; 720×540; 960×720)
  • Aspect Ratio Bit Rate: 720p or below is required, the optional inclusion of 1080p is recommended
  • Video: H.264 video compression, high-profile preferred, square pixels, fixed frame rate, progressive scan
  • Format: /mp4 container, ideally with leading MOOV atom, no edit lists
  • Audio: Stereo AAC audio compression, 128 kbps + preferred
  • Caption length text: Text only, max. 2,200 characters
  • Frames: 30 fps max.
  • Bit rate: No limit to bit rate file if you’re using two-pass encoding, as long as your file doesn’t exceed 1 GB. Otherwise, 8 megabits per second for 1080p and 4 megabits per second for 720p.

Facebook Technical Requirements:

    • Maximum Video Length:
      • 120 minutes max.
    • Minimum resolution: Minimum width 600 pixels; length dependent on video aspect ratio
      • File size: Up to 4 GB max
      • Vertical Aspect Ratio Considerations for Mobile Users:
        • 9:16 (2:3)
        • 4:5

FB - Vertical Aspect Ratio 1 FB - Vertical Aspect Ratio 2 FB - Vertical Aspect Ratio 3

The mobile-first world may require you to adjust your video aspect ratios for optimum performance when considering your target audience and the platforms they use.

Youtube Technical Requirements:

      • Must be uploaded to YouTube (send Video URL, shortened URL not allowed)
      • Must allow embedding
      • Must be public or unlisted
      • True streaming is not allowed
      • Minimum Video Length:
      • 12 seconds (for skippable ads)
      • Maximum Video Lengths:
        • Up to 6 minutes (skippable ads)
        • 15 seconds or 30 seconds (non-skippable ads)
        • 6 seconds (bumper ads)
        • 20 seconds or 30 seconds (non-skippable ads, EMEA, India, Malaysia, and Singapore only)


Making great ads is only a portion of the digital battle. You also have to get your ads in front of the right people and then close the deal with those who click-through and engage with your ads. Vantage specializes in getting online business’s ads in front of the right people and we also know a thing or two about creating landing page and website experiences that convert visitors into customers.

If you think your performance marketing can be taken to the next level, don’t hesitate to contact us.