How to make a powerful pre-roll, CTV or display video ad

Want to grow your brand awareness and attract and convert more customers? Find out how to create powerful pre-roll, CTV or display video ads.

Video advertising is a trend that keeps growing, year-on-year. And it’s easy to see why.

Today, we watch an average of 16 hours of online video per week – that’s a 52% increase in the last two years. 96% of people have watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service, and 86% say they’d like to see more video from brands.

We also retain 95% of a message when we watch it in a video, compared to just 10% when reading it in text.

So, if you want to grow your brand and convert more customers using video, what do you need to know? Crimtan’s Technical and Creative Director Adam Aspland has put this guide together for you.

What is CTV and pre-roll?

We all know what display video is. But what about CTV and pre-roll? Connected TV (CTV) is video content consumed on a TV screen, delivered via an internet connection. This includes TVs directly connected to the internet (Smart TV), as well as hardware that enables a TV to become connected, for example TV sticks, games consoles and set-top boxes that are connected to the internet.

Pre-roll ads, meanwhile, are in-stream video ads that are played before the streaming of video content that the user has requested. This format is frequently used to monetize the video content that the publisher is delivering and can be played inside short or long-form video.

The specifications you need to know for pre-roll, CTV or display video ads

Before we get into creating your pre-roll, CTV or display video ad, it’s important to be aware of the specifications you need to adhere to.

The general specifications are:

  • Aspect ratio: 16:9
  • Dimensions: 1920×1080 (1080p)
  • File format: .mp4
  • File size: varying from ~1.5.mb for display (in-banner video as the max limit is 2.2mb for display banners) to 10mb for pre-roll/CTV

And the length of videos should be:

  • 6 seconds or 15 seconds for bumpers
  • 15 or 30 seconds for pre-roll and in-banner video

General considerations when planning your pre-roll, CTV or display video ad

When planning your pre-roll, CTV or display video ad, it’s important to consider the following:

  • The opening of your video content should cover what it is about and get your brand/quick message out in case of people skipping or scrolling through.
  • If voiceover or subtitles are added post production, then editing becomes more tricky as they might not make sense.
  • Do you have specific problems or issues that you can’t get your message across in other forms of media? Can these issues be solved with video? If the answer is yes then it’s key to identify these issues and come up with a solution on solving them.
  • What and where is the video content for (website, display, social etc)?

What to film for your pre-roll, CTV or display video ad

So what can your ad actually feature? Here’s some guidance when working out what to film for your pre-roll, CTV or display video ad:

  • Actual footage of customers using your product or service.
  • Capture the unique selling points of your offering.
  • Cover key features of your product or service.
  • Ensure logos, CTAs and any USPs are added in post-production for relevancy.
  • Decide on if voiceover is necessary.
  • Do you want specific video footage of different angles of your product or service to create hotspot style video features for your website?

Creating successful pre-roll, CTV or display video ad content

To help build successful video content, regardless of the media, you need to know your audience, and be aware of what they want or need in the product or service you are promoting. You also need to understand the problem it solves for them, and how that problem is currently impacting them and how they feel about it.

Also consider what the ‘after’ looks and feels like for them – how their life will be different once your product or service has helped with, or eliminated, their problem.

The content you create needs to be appealing and engaging for them, whilst not focussing too much on their demographic such as age/gender/location. Conducting interviews, asking for feedback and listening to the questions your target audience ask online are all good ways to learn more about them.

For any piece of video content you create, you’ll have one or several core messages you want to communicate (your brief will help you identify these). The trick is translating these core messages into a simple story for your script to follow.

Everything you decide will depend on the objective your video needs to achieve, and what your audience finds valuable and engaging. It’s not just about what you want to say to your audience; it’s also about saying it in a way that resonates with them that’s in their language, rather than your brand’s. Though your videos should still contain your brand tone of voice, obviously.

Writing a script for pre-roll, CTV or display video ad content

Generally speaking you should keep the tone simple and conversational. Try to avoid any buzz words or irrelevant content to ensure the video is concise and captures the users’ attention. This also helps keep the content evergreen, rather than going out of fashion. Your script should be in line with your brand voice, but never to the detriment of viewers.

When it comes to script writing, less is always more, and to use the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words,” keep it short and succinct as possible.

Tips to keep the script as lean and impactful as possible include:

  • Say something unique, not what everyone else says.
  • Use simple, everyday language over unnecessarily complicated words.
  • Cut the flab, fluff and superfluous information.
  • Never repeat yourself unless it’s for dramatic effect.
  • Be prepared to make sacrifices (what’s really most important to communicate?)

You also need to decide on your core message:

  • What do you want your audience to do after watching your video?
  • What do you want them to think?
  • How do you want them to feel?

All great scripts also need to:

  • Be human and natural.
  • Be engaging, interesting and emotive.
  • Be interesting to your target audience.
  • Be simple and easy to understand.
  • Be short, sweet and concise.
  • Sound good when read aloud.
  • Get across all the necessary information.
  • Convey your core message.

Building your strategy for pre-roll, CTV or display video ad content

Building your strategy involves planning a number of things, including:

  • How you will create your video content – in house or externally.
  • How you will target your audience and distribute your video so it reaches them.
  • How you will reuse and repurpose your video for improved ROI.
  • How you will achieve all of this within your budget and deadline.

Writing a production brief for pre-roll, CTV or display video ad content

Next you need to write a production brief. This will need to include your video objective(s). You also need to identify the target audience(s) and any insights you have into them, explain the actions do you want your audiences to take (feel, think and do), outline the core message(s) for your content and include your budget and deadline.

Answers to the following questions will help your team to create the perfect video script:

  • What is the purpose of your video?
  • What action would you like your viewers to take?
  • Who is your audience and what are their habits online?
  • What value is your video bringing to your audience?
  • What distribution channels are you going to use?

You also need to explore the creative approach for your project. A creative approach to video can be almost anything, but along the lines of:

  • Take inspiration from other successful videos (competitors or affinity brands).
  • Unique enough from other videos to stand out.
  • Reflect a true insight into the target audience in question.
  • Don’t be afraid to be different or strange, if the approach fits the brief.

Planning production for pre-roll, CTV or display video ad content

Pre-production can be in the form of a storyboard or scamp. A storyboard will probably show every shot of the video in detail which is followed more closely during production. A scamp can work, but is less likely to be followed to the letter. Instead it serves as visual inspiration to inform the look and feel of the video.

During production, the director or shoot lead will ensure that:

  • Everyone appearing on camera is relaxed and gives their best performance.
  • The video is well-lit, well-shot and well-framed.
  • Enough footage is filmed to make the editing process as easy as possible.
  • The script and storyboard are followed closely.

During post-production, editors will ensure your video:

  • Is as short as possible while containing all the necessary information.
  • Is cut in a way that makes the video easy to understand and follow.
  • Uses B-roll to liven up long shots.
  • Gets across the core message of the video brief and script.
  • Includes a CTA to encourage your audience to take action.

You might also want to add graphics and effects to include messages around products or services that can’t necessarily be seen by footage clearly. Also you may wish to use special effects to help your content come to life.

Need help creating powerful pre-roll, CTV or display video ad content?

We hope you’ve found this guide helpful. If you’d like to know more about the process of creating pre-roll, CTV or display video ad content, or would like help bringing yours to life, we’d love to assist.

Get in touch and our team of video experts will be delighted to answer any questions.