Marketing: About TV Ads - dummies

By Alexander Hiam

You don’t need to achieve Grammy-winning levels of artistry to make a good video ad, but you certainly need to achieve a higher-than-average level to stand out. The following sections cover important points to help you create compelling video ads.

Video ads must use great drama (whether funny or serious), condensed to a few seconds of memorable action. These few seconds of drama etch themselves into the memory of anyone who watches that film because they feature a good script with just the right touch of just the right emotion, great acting, good camerawork, and a good set, plus the most important element of all — the suspense of a developing relationship between two interesting characters.

Video ads look simple when you see them, but don’t be fooled — they aren’t simple at all. If you want to advertise with video, you need to make sure you know what you’re doing. Consider the following tips to help you as you begin the process:

  • Hire an experienced producer or production company to help you do the ad or hire a big ad agency (at big ad agency dollars) to design and supervise the production of your ad.

    Hiring experts does add to your costs, but it ensures quality work. Just remember that you ultimately decide whether the script has that star potential or is just another forgettable ad. Don’t let the production company or ad agency shoot until you have something memorable to make the investment worthwhile.

    Strapped for cash but still want some assistance? Film students at the nearest college with a film or media department are usually eager to help produce ads. To them, it’s an opportunity to show that they can do professional work.

    For you, it may be an opportunity to get near-professional work at very low prices. Just make sure the students and their professors agree upfront (in writing) that you own the finished product and can use it in your marketing.

  • Aim for an ad that looks high quality and professional. Sure, you can go to a local cable station and shoot your own talking-head ads in its studio at little cost, or even sit down and talk at your computer’s digital camera to make a podcast-style ad.

    But boy do those ads look cheap when shown on the local network affiliate right next to expensive ads from national advertisers. Without high-quality production, even the best design doesn’t work. Why?

    Because people watch so much TV that they know the difference between good and bad ads — and they don’t bother to watch anything but the best. This is true of ads on podcasts, too, because podcast viewers are often downloading high-quality movies or TV shows.

  • Create a spoof ad if you’re on a shoestring budget. A spoof ad makes fun of one of the silly video ad genres, like the one where an overenthusiastic salesman does a frantic 30-second sell.

    Because the whole point is to make a campy spoof, you don’t need (or want) high production value, but you do still need help from someone with experience in setting up shots and handling camera and lights, plus a good enough actor to make the ad entertaining.