As the video opportunity continues to grow on mobile it becomes ever more important to not just do video, but also to do video well. 

One opportunity that we’ve seen become increasingly prominent is that of native videos, which are increasingly outperforming animated/product feature videos. 

What exactly are native videos? Native video ads, as you can guess, are videos that look unscripted and feature real-life imagery - for example, people using the app and/or speaking to the camera. Their outstanding performance is understandable, as native ads don’t look ‘ad-like’ and also fit seamlessly into their natural experience of their Facebook or Snapchat feeds. 

Yet because advertisers have to work with models or influencers, native video ads can be both time-consuming and expensive to make. For that reason, it’s crucial to make the most of these videos. In other words, if you’re making native video ads, you’d better make them right. After all, the best videos can have a tremendous impact on performance.

So how do we make effective, high performing native videos? Here are 4 strategies that can unlock killer performance from your native videos:

1. Brand early, brand often: 

While we believe native video ads succeed because they don’t look like conventional animated ads, we still find that the best performing ads make it clear that they are ads - and not unbranded content. This makes sense, especially since you are looking for your best users to understand your brand and take action. 

Another reason this is crucial is that many users don’t watch a video beyond the first 3-4 seconds. Given this, we’ve seen a significant lift in CTRs (which cascade into a lift in CPIs) when we compare ads with a logo upfront vs. ads without them.

With this in mind, we find it very effective to include the brand’s logo right from the ad’s first screen - and ideally retain it on the screen throughout the ad video.


2. Show app usage with over the shoulder shots: 

Videos that portray models actually using the app work well for the same reason that playable ads or animated video ads do - they demonstrate to the user how the app works and how they can use it. 

We’ve seen the best videos not only show the models using the app, but also completing a meaningful challenge or task using it. For example, a game might have the model playing a meaningful piece of the game (and winning), while a stop motion app such as the one below, might have the model demonstrating how easy it is to make cool stop motion videos.

3. Build on demographic and psychographic insights

We often use our clients’ qualitative understanding of their best users to build out native video ads. We use this understanding not only to choose the right persona of the models we work with, but also to inform the script and dialogues for these models.

A health and fitness app for millennial women? Hire a millennial woman dressed for a workout. Make the script reflect her unique challenges - her talking about how she has no time to work out, and how the fitness app is solving her problems. 

An app whose ‘ideal customer’ is ‘a young male executive in his late 20s on Madison Avenue who earns over $100k+, and enjoys taking clients to fine dining restaurants’? Have a model dress the part for your video and speak about the ideal customer’s experience.


4. Add overlays and captions for users who don’t have audio on: 

How many times have you scrolled through your feeds or seen an ad while you’re on the subway (or when you’re sitting in office!) without headphones? If you’re like me, lots of times. 

I’ve seen intriguing ads (or videos) and skipped right past them because I couldn’t listen to the videos. The best ads have captions and/or overlays showcasing their value proposition to reach users who do not typically have audio on. Indeed, these ads can not only keep users who would have skipped past an ad, but can also serve as calls to action to prompt users to click immediately (like the one below).

As video ads continue to proliferate, these strategies can help your native adscan unlock tremendous performance wins. Especially as you go into this holiday season’s hypercompetitive phases, we strongly recommend doubling down on native videos as an essential part of your creative strategy.

Shamanth Rao is the founder of the mobile user acquisition agency RocketShip HQ, the host of the How Things Grow podcast & the Mobile User Acquisition Show. Shamanth previously served as the VP of Growth and User Acquisition at FreshPlanet, worked on the Growth team at PuzzleSocial, which became Zynga’s NYC studio, and headed up user acquisition for Bash Gaming, which was acquired for $170 million. 

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