Responsive Display Ads with Video–An Introduction

Do you remember, gentle reader, a long-ago world of Google Advertising in which there was just a standard search ad, and then you could have display ads in a handful of different sizes, all simple images?

That world is as dead as the world in which you don’t need to wear a face mask to go into the street.

There’s one type of ad that I’ve found particularly profitable that I’d like to discuss and share today: the Responsive Display Ad (now with video!).

First, here’s a quick reminder on “responsive” ads: with the multiplication of formats, Google introduced the “Responsive” ad to be a Swiss Army Knife of ads: one format that can appear anywhere and do anything. It has lots of options–lots of headlines, descriptions, images, logos, and so forth–and Google just chooses the best one to use at any given point.

The positive of this is–in theory–you just do one ad and it can show anywhere. No more worrying about lots of ads for lots of different formats. The negative with this is that it gets very hard to compare one ad against another since each ad could have endless different variations on how it can be shown. (In other posts, I’ll dive more into examining the negatives, and some best practices on how to deal with that problem. But that’s more another day.)

At first, responsive ads just had text–but you could put in a bunch of headlines and a bunch of descriptions, and Google would choose which combination to use that (it claims) would work best for each individual time the ad is shown. Over time, they added in the ability to add in images and the company logo as well.

Then, something else happened: it turns out, display ads are quite a different beast than search ads. So, despite the vision to have one ad format to unify them all, it turns out that Google needed two types of responsive ads: one for search campaigns and one for display campaigns. Hence, RSAs (responsive search ads) and RDAs (responsive display ads) were born.

Okay, with all that context, Google more recently launched a cool little twist that the RDAs (that is, the responsive search ads) that hasn’t quite caught on yet: in addition to uploading images to sometimes use… you can upload videos as well! Youtube videos only, of course.

The result? Now you can run display ads as you would anywhere else… but now, display ads that run videos! Voila.

It’s surprising to me that this hasn’t caught on; we don’t see that many videos on the display network, yet.

But my prediction is that video will be quite powerful in a display context, and thus we will see this catch on among the most successful advertisers.

Now, all of this might suggest a bunch of questions in  your mind like what are the requirements for videos? It seems like there are few formal requirements but since they need to be uploaded to Youtube then the standard Youtube requirements apply. I’d also recommend making them 15 seconds or under.

Other recommendations I’d give are to use a size of 480×360 or 640×360, 1 gigabyte size max, and 30 frames per second, approximately (slightly more or less is fine).

When you test out different videos for responsive ads, what details do you find work best? Let us know, report back–or write an article for us. We’re open to contributors, and we’re friendly.

For more information, you can read Google’s official page about the subject.

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