Short-form video ads are fast becoming nothing more than moving billboards, as marketers scrabble to interrupt social scrolling with a few grabbed seconds of sales-led messages. This latest trend means the medium is increasingly seen – by marketers and viewers alike – as one that is expected to be passed by, rather than focused on.
As research shows that attention spans have shortened, there's a danger that the once-revered art of storytelling in advertising has been lost.
Given the loss of these valuable creative tools of the storytelling trade, it’s no wonder that research shows ad effectiveness is in decline and set to fall further: audiences are not sitting comfortably with the lack of nuance and narrative arcs they are seeing (or, more accurately, not seeing).
There’s one notable exception. Pinterest.
Picking the right platform
Pinterest is bucking the current trend, and defying the odds, because video here is buzzing.
Video ads on the platform have three times higher viewability than other social platforms, and twice as high a completion rate, according to joint research the company did with GroupM, covering four markets (UK, Germany, France, Spain) and 42 campaigns. Viewable reach averages at 82%, again making video on Pinterest much more effective than other social platforms, according to another study by Pinterest and Kantar.
Video ads on Pinterest have three times higher viewability than other social platforms Pinterest and GroupM
Videos on Pinterest attract huge numbers of views every day. This is alongside massive growth in the amount of video overall which has seen an almost eight times year-on-year surge.
Forging stronger connections through sophisticated storytelling
So, why are video ads on Pinterest thriving? Because brands and creators on this platform understand the power of the video format to forge a deep emotional connection – if you tell your story well. Pinterest also has a receptive audience, an audience that has a positive mindset when they arrive on the platform and that treats video ads as content.
A key element of good storytelling is making sure your audience is sitting comfortably. One of the defining characteristics of Pinterest is that it is a uniquely positive environment. It’s seen as a safe haven, with almost half of weekly Pinners in the UK saying that it’s an online oasis of safe, positive content.
Making consumers the hero of their own story
Whereas the online world can make people feel disconnected from themselves and others, Pinterest has the opposite effect. Pinners can take the mask off and be themselves, which means any connections they make are likely to be more authentic. They’re encouraged to find ideas through video, to imagine themselves in the hero role, making those same positive changes in their life, and turning ideas into ‘I dids’.
A collection of videos can work together, like a mini series, with one overaching narrative. This creates curiosity about what is going to happen next – a far cry from the reaction elicited in a typical short-form video talking only about price and convenience. Skilled Pinterest storytellers know that successful selling today is about ‘showing’ not telling.
A good example of this is Aussie Hair's UK Christmas campaign, using a series of memorable video ads centred around festive themes. Aussie Hair boosted brand awareness and consideration for their SOS range of hair products over Christmas, achieving a +6% rise in purchase intent (according to Aussie Hair data).
Telling stories encourages purchases
We don’t like feeling we are being ‘sold’ to. But we love being told stories. We’re hardwired to hear them, which is why Pinterest has the confidence to rise above the digital marketing noise, compelling Pinners to follow the narrative – and watch video.
Rather, videos are a natural part of search results and feeds, and fit into the context of what people are actively looking for. This creates a mutually beneficial, natural alignment between what people are looking for and what advertisers are doing.
It knows that if a brand story is compelling and well told, and Pinners are ready to hear it, they will engage. Not only that, they will buy: 83% of weekly Pinners have made a purchase based on content they saw from brands, according to a Gfk Pinterest US Path to Purchase study. And Pinners are almost twice as likely to take a shopping-related action here than users on other platforms, according to another Path to Purchase study by Nielsen.
A brand that has done this effectively is Barilla, the Italian pasta brand. It wanted to connect with Pinners who would respond to its message about its new, premium product line, so it targeted keywords around topics such as ‘special moments’ and ‘togetherness’, as well as interests such as ‘pasta recipes’ and ‘meal planning’. Its videos – a series mixing close-up shots and finished dishes – resulted in a viewable reach of 73% and a Pin awareness lift of 10 percentage points.
There are many ways to tell a story
While the ‘beginning-middle-end’ approach to storytelling is the best known, there are many ways to spin a good yarn. And, particularly in modern times of distracted attention and non-linear behaviour, storytellers need to get better at ensuring viewers can easily pick a story up at any point in the arc. That’s why Pinterest has myriad video ad formats and packages which can be used, depending on the story that brands want to tell.
1. Idea Ad
This is the execution that’s getting everyone excited as it performs incredibly well when it comes to awareness and consideration. It’s the ideal way to attract the right audience and take them on a deep dive into a brand story because it can feature up to 20 pages of video or image content in a single unit. With such length and breadth, it allows brands to really establish their creative voice.
2. Idea Ad with Paid Partnership
One of the most effective ways to tell your story credibly, is to get someone else to tell it. This format involves using trusted, influential creators who showcase their ‘hero life’ – explaining how they’ve done it and which brands have helped them – which inspires Pinners and naturally increases audience reach.
3. Pinterest Premiere 3 Days
This is an exclusive, quick way to scale your reach around peak story moments – like a product launch – and maximise reach and visibility over three days. These can be shared as standard and max.width video ads.
4. Pinterest Premiere 4 Weeks
Similar to Pinterest Premiere 3 Days, but maintains the spotlight on a brand for longer and keeps exclusivity by only being available to one advertiser at the time in specific categories. These can also be shared as standard and max.width video ads.