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Q: We’re a document management company and we’re thinking of producing a video ad to promote our landing page.

We spend a lot on adword clicks and need a video ad to quickly explain what we offer, and stop visitors from exiting the page.

I have a number of technical questions regarding video ads.

We’d like to include live video footage in our video advertisement as well as use stills.

Is this possible? Will video footage push the cost up a lot? Can we shoot our own video?

How is a video ad structured so we know what to shoot?

Also should I host the video ad on youtube or use our own server? And what pixel dimensions should my video ad be?

Marketing Director

A: The technical issues with video ad production and delivery aren’t in any way problematic, but they do need some consideration.

First: Yes, you can include your own live video footage in your video ad. It doesn’t greatly increase the cost.

To appreciate why, let’s see how a video ad is structured.

It’ll help you plan what your message, and understand how to storyboard your images.

Video ad structure

A video ad is a web video that is 30 seconds long, just long enough to give your visitor time to watch:

> a compelling reason to stay and get in touch

> an instant grasp of what you offer, or any offers you have.

In practice this means creating 50-70 words of spoken voiceover script.

Breaking this down further, you’ll need about 6 images to accompany the 30 second script. These images will illustrate the storyline.

One of these images could be a clip of video that you’ve shot yourself.

If you supply the video as a digital file to the studio, and specify the start and end time, it can easily be edited in. Widescreen, 4:3, SD or HD, DV, DVcam, microsoft or apple – the capture format or technology platform doesn’t matter.

What pushes the cost up is sending reams of footage and expecting the video editor to view it and sort it all out for you.

You can easily keep the cost down by specifying the start and end times. This makes it simple to identify the particular 10 second clip you’re interested in showing.

As well as the script and images, you’ll need captions to accompany each image. So you’ll need about 6 captions.

A music track also needs selecting as well as voiceover from a choice of male or female voices.

Prices are generally low, and you can expect to be up and running in weeks not months.

Hosting a video ad

It’s possible to host your video ad on youtube, but I wouldn’t advise it.

In 2008 and 2007, youtube was all excitement.

But now in 2009, it’s acquired a downmarket amateur image. It’s where your gaming kids go pm, not your business. I’m not a fan of youtube for the corporate video user. It’s more for consumers.

In addition, using youtube means displaying their company logo continuously during playback, ie, their brand, not your brands. To any marketer this is a branding mortal sin!

The advice is to use your own server for hosting. It should be fine.

However, if you have high traffic on your server, ie, multiple simultaneous plays of your video, then playback quality may be jittery.

In this case you’ll need to outsource to a professional streaming host who can guarantee smooth internet playback.

If you’re running a lot of video ads, ie, developing your own virtual in-house video tv network, then you should definitely outsource as a pro streaming provider will offer detailed metrics and statistics on playback rates, length of play, which video ads get the most plays, whether viewers come from social pages such as twitter, facebook, a link from digg, or just google etc. You may even want a comments box, share posted remarks, or reply or blog yourself.

As a video publishers these reports are valuable information for planning future video advertising campaigns.

Video ad pixel dimensions

Obviously, you need to specify the size of your online video ad, so it fits correctly on your web page, ie, not too big or too small.

I’d recommend the largest possible size for audience impact.

Bear in mind also that standard proportions for a web video are 16:9, throughout the world.

There are three main options for specifying the size required:

1 – You can replace an existing still image on your web page. In this case you only need to specify the image and the url, and the video ad will be produced to this size.

2 – You can specify the width you require in pixels. For example the width of your web page.

From this width figure, the height in pixels can be calculated. For example, calculating the height based on 16:9 widescreen proportions, then 500 pixels width is 282 pixels high.

3 – You can specify a custom size

Most CMS’s (Content Management Systems) will also allow you to scale your video up or down proportionally.

Sizing and hosting your video ad are important technical issues, but fortunately with easy solutions.

Using your own video footage is feasible so long as you understand the structure of your video ad and how your footage fits in.

© Studio Rossiter 2009

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