Content is still king, context is still queen, but their favorite child is officially video. We all knew it was going to take over the industry, but we didn’t realize how much of a mark it would make. It conquered organic content, revolutionized real-time live communication, and is in the process of crushing ad creative.

As we approach the end of the year, there’s no escaping it: you either embrace video as a key part of your ads strategy, or you embrace your subpar media performance.

For brands, the popularity of video advertising has stoked competition. Moving ads from TV to social won’t be enough to ensure engagement – brands will have to adopt the following tactics:

1. Stay on top of the capabilities

As more marketers venture into the video space – either by rolling out programmatic ads or publishing branded stories – it’s important to not only have a strong understanding of current capabilities of the social channels but also to keep pace as they innovate. Gather as much knowledge as possible about available platforms, content formats, targeting options, etc. This equips you to get the most out of your ad dollars and adapt to inevitable changes in the landscape.

For better or for worse, the social space is continuously evolving at a rapid pace. New channels appear all the time, and to maintain relevance, existing social channels innovate and fight for every user – they change ad placements, switch up algorithms, and develop new targeting options. Not surprisingly, the constant change can be a major challenge.

To solve for this, a simple but often overlooked solution is actually paying attention to all communications from the social channels. If you go to the social channels’ business or development parts of their sites, you can almost always subscribe to updates or sign up for a newsletter. Rely on them to convey changes before they happen. Many channels will also provide advertisers with an account person to liaise with, take advantage of this resource who is there to make sure you’re getting the most out of the everything the channel has to offer its advertisers. Another important resource is your technology partners. At my company, Sprinklr, we are official partners with 24+ social channels and we’re here to help our customers make the most of them.

2. Analyse your messaging

As your social advertising programs develop, be sure to conduct central, cross-segment analysis of your messaging and investment plans. This will clarify which tactics maximize impact per segment and for the brand overall. Winning strategies should then be distributed to all parties responsible for media execution – including agencies, individual markets, social channel account reps assigned to your company, etc. – to ensure enterprise alignment. And invite team members who are participating in day to day community management, local markets, customer care to provide feedback, your analysis will be much sharper with their insights into how your campaign impacted the broader business.

What’s more, budgets and creative resources for video advertising on social should stay very fluid to allow for testing and capitalizing on sudden opportunities.

3. Create high quality, thoughtful and timely content

Videos must be engaging enough to stop users who are scrolling through their feeds, but they can’t be overly intrusive. The first few seconds are critical – they need to capture the consumer’s attention; otherwise, viewers will breeze right past the video.

That said, don’t rely on sound when being creative. Even though autoplay features mean the sound is on, many people mute videos immediately. Furthermore, sound can often be so abrasive to the experience that the consumer is aggravated to the extent they actively select options to never hear from this advertiser in their feed again. If you search “autoplay sound”, you’ll see thousands of articles on consumers’ adverse reactions to it and guides on how to turn it off. Instead of relying on bold audio to capture your audience’s attention, consider solely using visuals or adding text captions that can tell a story without sound.

Additionally, social media is always on, and trending “moments” can happen at any time, anywhere around the world. If you aren’t capitalizing on these constant shifts, you’re leaving value on the table. Smart companies are going to make sure that the people working on day-to-day community management for things like care, marketing and local market activations are involved heavily in identifying advertising opportunities.

Ideally, you should ensure ongoing monitoring of an ad’s performance by a central team of seasoned practitioners. As your team’s skills and understanding deepen, platform automation can enable near real-time optimization, shifting budgets, and targeting of campaigns to high-performance posts and segments.

Take Sonos, the home sound system provider, which used a two-phase campaign to generate buzz around its new home theatre speaker, PLAYBASE, and companion products, the PLAY:1 and SUB.

In phase one, Sonos ran short video ads introducing PLAYBASE. In phase two, Sonos used dynamic ads and other ad formats to promote the companion products, which, when combined with the new PLAYBASE, create a complete home theatre experience. A well-executed campaign with ongoing monitoring ensured success for the team.

4. Leverage targeted audiences

Marketers can now create video ads and target audiences based on age, location, gender, and viewer interests. They can also upload their own data about buyers to create Custom Audiences.

Sophisticated analysis and marketing practices are required to divide your total audience into relevant segments, craft strong messaging for each segment, and then determine how much to invest in each segment.

Incorporating customized ad targeting obviously isn’t free, so you should acknowledge that in some cases or for certain products, less targeting is more effective, and casting the widest net is the best investment.

Ad targeting was an essential piece of Sonos’ successful two-phase campaign. The Phase 1 ads were targeted to a mix of the company’s primary audiences, including movie lovers and music streamers, and excluded existing customers. The Phase 2 ads were then retargeted to people who viewed the Phase 1 video ads, as well as to lookalike audiences based on those video viewers and past purchasers.

Sonos was able to partner with Sprinklr to use first-party audience segmentation and reporting dashboards to inform the optimisation strategy in real time.

5. Learn from the best

You may be targeting audiences and analyzing feedback – but how do you know it’s working? And how can you boost your own creative campaigns? You learn from the best.

Sonos’ inventive video campaign helped establish it as a leader in home audio. The two-phase effort delivered outstanding results, including 19X return on ad spend during the promotion period, a 17-point lift in ad recall, and a whopping 19 million people reached.

Seek out case studies to benchmark against and open a dialogue with your technology and channel partners to get their insight.

Go get started

With viewer attention shifting away from traditional TV and towards digital video, and with more advanced targeting options released every year, social video advertising is not a strategy that companies can ignore. Going into 2018, it should be a serious consideration for most companies as they develop their advertising budget.

Using these strategies, you’ll hopefully show your customers that you’re listening and that you know how to grab their attention in 30 seconds or less.