My last article explored the best way to design the video ad teaser experience, this time we’ll consider the full engagement video experience.

As a brief recap, I provided four tips to engage people in full-screen teaser video ads: stream video through available ad unit 'windows', maximise the video size, set user expectations, and respect the consumer journey.

So, once the user has engaged in the full-screen experience (sometimes a 970x546 overlay on desktop and full screen on mobile), how can brands keep their attention for as long as possible?

Here are five tips:

1. Video must be the main act

Brands love television and they love creating video content. There’s nothing quite like the blank canvas of 15-30 seconds of sight, sound and motion that video provides. And yet, designers and brands are repeatedly tempted to wrap the video in animation and other elements or to forget the video altogether and rely on games and other rich media instead.

While this can be successful, particularly for innovative and authentic designs, our experience shows that using video as the main act and maximising its prominence provides more consistent results.

For example, in the two different video ad layout designs below, within a standard in-stream video format canvas, the video on the left is just 21% of the available pixels – while the right hand side uses 75% of the pixels. 

different video ad layout designs


However, users also love the interactivity of online video so, while video is the main act, the primary video spot is not the full story…

2. Use multiple video assets

We often see average time spent in the engagement parts of a video unit greater than the length of the primary video spot itself.

Why? On average, shouldn’t users leave the unit before the end of a 30 second video?

Sometimes people stay with the brand experience because of engaging interactive elements and a desire to explore those. However by far the most consistent way to achieve great results is to have multiple video assets and to have those cycle on auto-play, similar to the 'up next' functionality in a YouTube channel.

3. Include authentic interactive elements

Once you’re maximising your available video assets there’s a golden opportunity to include interactive elements that allow engaged users to explore the brand further and deepen the experience.

Sending them straight to your website is jarring for many users so providing additional information and interactive elements within the ad can work.

However if you’re going to do that, the interactive experience must be authentic to the brand and the category.

For example, an auto manufacturer can use creative assets commonly available to them such as photo galleries, interactive feature demonstrations and dealer locators.

4. Be consistent but recognise the device

Responsive design technology enables creative developers to build one single full engagement experience that works the same across different devices, irrespective of the launch teaser.

This has two advantages: it maximises the design time spent on creative concepts rather than production and, over time and increasing exposure, it enables users to learn what to expect from a unit.

However there are unique opportunities, particularly on smartphones and tablets that shouldn’t be ignored for the sake of consistency, for example, a virtual reality store for a retailer or the ability to pan around a car interior for an auto manufacturer.

5. Return the user to their starting point

We’ve talked before about respecting the consumer journey. While in some instances a user will choose to click away from the ad experience, and the underlying page they were on, this is rare and the design elements should clearly signal how and where this can happen (so you probably shouldn’t have the whole background clickable.)

Far more common is for the user to want to return to the page they were on originally in order to continue their journey. The design consensus now is for a close button in the top right corner and then landing the user gently back where they were.

As I closed with last time: “it respects the user journey by not jarring them into an ad experience or giving the sense that you are taking them far away from their original purpose. After all, you want them to love your brand not resent it!”

Doug Conely

Published 4 August, 2015 by Doug Conely

Doug Conely is Chief Strategy Officer at Exponential and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

8 more posts from this author

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