Video content is far and away the people’s choice when it comes to consuming information. It’s dynamic. It captures emotion in a way static images cannot. And you can’t beat it when it comes to driving brand awareness — 80% of viewers can recall a video ad they’ve watched in the past 30 days.
It’s no wonder, then, why social media platforms favor video ads in their feeds, and why marketers are so keen to continuously pump out video ad creative.
Traditional video ads are produced along a linear narrative. The story has a beginning and an end, and only one combination of clips strung together in just the right way can tell that story correctly.
I’m here to vouch for a new way to produce video ads and video campaigns: modularly. Building modular video ads is not only more flexible and cost-effective but will also help you build the highest-performing video ad possible from your library of video assets.
Modular video ads tell stories that remain intact no matter the order of video clips used. Footage can easily be swapped for other footage and text or messaging can easily be swapped for other text or messaging and the ad will still feel cohesive and make sense.
Creating video ads in this way gives creatives immense flexibility because there’s no longer one “right way” to string a story together. With modularity, creatives can approach capturing footage with a totally different mindset. And editors have more freedom to play with the juxtaposition of assets. They can mix and match to create different, interesting combinations, producing any number of video ads from the same set of clips, graphics, and text.
In short, all the pieces always fit together, but creatives can experiment with the overall message.
This idea of opening up the possibilities for juxtaposition is especially important. The entire mood of a video can completely change just by swapping out one shot for another, or by putting just the right two shots back to back.
This is a relatively new way of thinking when it comes to creating video ads. But those who take this practice and run with it will have a competitive advantage over those who stick with the traditional linear approach.
Creatives leveraging modularity will be able to create more ads with fewer assets faster. And because of that, they’ll be more likely to find at least one from the bunch that outperforms all the others.
Here are a few best practices for those ready to give modular video ads a try:
Instead of thinking in terms of a singular storyboard, think about what types of assets — when combined in any number of ways — will help you get your message across.
Here are some production tricks I like to keep in mind when creating modular video ads.
B-roll is the new A-roll.
B-roll footage — atmospheric or establishing shots of people, places, and things — is perfect for modular video ads because it can set a mood and a feeling no matter where it’s placed. It works better than your typical A-roll footage, which usually features talent speaking, either to camera or not. A-roll footage can be difficult to cut cleanly for a modular video ad unless the line being spoken is short and doesn’t require much context.
Record voiceover instead of having talent speak to camera.
Because B-roll doesn’t usually feature speaking, a recorded voiceover can help you tell the story modularly. Footage can be cut any which way under a voiceover and still tell a great story. TikTok’s robotic text-to-speech voiceover is a great example of employing this tactic successfully in video creative.
Record multiple angles and shot types of the same scene.
Perhaps there’s a moment that’s crucial to your video ad — let’s say a model using your product or service. Recording that scene from multiple angles and at different depths can help you capture tons of footage quickly for your modular video ad. Capture the scene from both sides and above if possible. And always record close, medium, and wide, shots.
Mix and match different angles together.
Try one at the beginning and one at the end. Certain angles might highlight product attributes better than others — use them with voiceover or superimposed text that calls out those attributes.
Think strategically about how — and where — you'll use superimposed text.
Not only should each piece of superimposed text be self-contained so it can be swapped with other messages, but it should also make sense with any video clip or other superimposed text it happens to be combined with. Length-wise, a good rule of thumb is no more than five words per line. This helps keep things readable at the right pace for your viewers.
Pro tip: be sure to leave some strategically placed negative space as you frame up your shots. This will give you a home in which to fit your dynamic text.
Building modular video ads definitely requires some up-front planning. But don’t let that plan get in the way of trying something unexpected that might work really well.
For instance, don’t count out video footage from two years ago just because it wasn’t shot specifically for this ad campaign. And don’t discount the value of UGC video — viewers often find it more authentic than high-production-value footage.
Building video ads modularly means you can produce way more videos than before. The upside is clear — the more variations you have to run, the greater the chance one of them will be a high performer. But it also means putting your creative resources to work creating all of these versions. Which, when done manually, just isn’t realistic.
Luckily, modular video ad builder software can automate the process. Upon uploading video clips, graphics, copy, and more, every possible combination of assets is generated, rendered, and can be launched for testing. Remember — this is most easily done with video ads created modularly because the story remains intact no matter the order of assets, increasing the number of variants you can test. It can be used with linear video, but you massively reduce the number of variants you have to work with.
Not only does this software save creative teams tons of time, freeing them up to do more of the exciting parts of creative work, it also reduces the burnout often associated with the repetitive process of versioning video ads. Gone are the days of dragging, dropping, adjusting, and rendering for hours on end. Now, with a few simple clicks, you can create dozens or hundreds of videos simultaneously — all thanks to automation and modular design.
Probably the most exciting thing about building modular video ads at scale is the ability to test every single version of video ad you build. The easiest, most scientific way to do this is through multivariate testing — a method that measures the performance of every single ad variation and every single creative element within each ad variation. In short, it can tell us which individual pieces of our modular video ads more cause people to convert and which do not.
Here are just two reasons why multivariate testing modular video ads is so important:
Identify the top-performing first five seconds.
The first five seconds of any video ad are the most important. It’s in that five seconds that viewers decide whether to keep watching or scroll right on by. Building video ads modularly and testing every variation allows you to try lots of different clips in that first five seconds and see which one gets people to stick around longest.
We all have our own opinions about what works in an ad and what doesn’t. But data doesn’t lie. Multivariate testing modular video ads can stop us from making creative decisions that lead to poor-performing ads.
For example, we might learn that our audience actually prefers a background color we weren’t originally excited about, or that a video clip we threw into the mix just to try has more thumb-stopping power than any other clip.
Moving away from the linear story mindset can be tough — it’s how stories have been told for thousands of years. But, as with anything new, practice makes perfect. Once you’ve created video ads in this way once or twice, the creative process around it will come more naturally. And those brave enough to tackle it will reap the rewards — building video ads at scale and finding top-performers faster.