Video Ads vs. Image Ads: Which Drive More Engagement on Facebook?

Author's avatar Social Media Aug 3, 2023 16 minutes read

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    You’ve been here before: You’re up late at night, working on the perfect Facebook ad. You’ve researched the target audience, honed the copy to perfection, and now you’re faced with an important decision — whether to use an image or a video to catch your audience’s attention. 

    You probably don’t want to spend too much time racking your brain about this decision again, do you? 

    Well, you’re in luck because we’re here to examine that critical question — which format drives more clicks on Facebook: videos or images?

    Despite what you may think, this question isn’t just about aesthetics or personal preference. The choice between image and video could significantly impact your ad’s performance, potentially dictating the success or failure of your campaign. With budgets on the line and performance metrics waiting to be met, the pressure to make the right decision can be overwhelming.

    With digital marketing constantly evolving and changing faster and faster, staying on top of trends and understanding what engages audiences most is a constant challenge. Social media platforms like Facebook are constantly updating their algorithms, and user behaviors keep changing, so it’s more important than ever to know what kind of content makes your audience click. 

    So let’s dive into some data and real-world experiences to shed some light on this issue.

    Facebook Ads Dashboard Template

    Which Ad Format Drives More Clicks on Facebook?

    We know from our own State of Facebook Ads Performance Report, that image and video ads have performed much better than other formats for agency respondents, while SMB respondents say video ads have been the most effective for them.

    Most successful Facebook ad formats in 2021

    But which is better? Let’s get the big thing right out of the gate. What did our respondents say?

    We interviewed 95 (27 originally and 68 for the new survey) respondents, and over two-thirds (67.55%) said that video content drives more ad clicks on Facebook. Just over a quarter (26.47%) said they favor images, and the remainder (5.88%) claimed that there’s no difference.

    Ad Clicks on Facebook

    Why do videos perform better, though?

    The key factor that emerged from our survey is the ability of videos to capture user attention more effectively than static images. Videos tend to create an immersive experience that engages users more deeply. By combining motion, sound, and storytelling, videos stand a higher chance of catching a user’s eye as they scroll through their Facebook feed. In fact, a significant number of respondents, accounting for the majority in favor of video content, pointed out this higher potential for user engagement.

    Beyond grabbing attention, videos also tend to hold it for longer. Users are more likely to stop scrolling and invest additional time to watch and understand the content of a video. This inherently provides marketers with more opportunities to engage the audience and stimulate clicks. As Jonathan Marshall said, “Videos seem to grab people’s attention for a longer period of time, which increases the chance of having them click on your ad.”

    Derrick Hathaway of VEM Medicals echoes this: “For us, videos have driven more clicks in our Facebook ads. The reason for that, I have observed, is that compared to static graphics, videos have the potential to grab consumers’ attention and increase engagement. A more immersive experience can be produced by combining motion, sound, and storytelling, which can enhance audience engagement and click-through rates.”

    On a related note, some respondents suggested that video content enables more precise retargeting. The engagement with a video — whether a user watches it partially or completely — provides valuable information about their interest level. Marketers can leverage this data to segment viewers and deliver personalized follow-up content, thereby enhancing the chances of conversion.

    According to Jonathan Merry of Moneyzine “One advantage of video ads is their ability to retarget viewers based on their level of engagement. This level of precision is not achievable with image-based retargeting. By segmenting viewers who have watched at least 30 seconds of the video, for example, we can target them with personalized offers or discounts to further guide them through the conversion process.”

    However, it’s essential to remember that while the medium is vital, the effectiveness of an ad largely depends on the quality and relevance of its content. As Tim Woda from White Peak astutely observed, a poorly executed video will not outperform a well-crafted image simply because it’s a video. The engagement and subsequent clicks largely depend on how intriguing, engaging, and relevant the content is to the viewer.

    “Someone isn’t going to click an uninteresting, poorly executed video just because it’s a video. And the same goes for an image. People will click on something that is intriguing to them, engages them and interests them.”

    Tim Woda

    Tim Woda

    Founder and CEO at White Peak

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    Ad Formats Marketers Use More Often on Facebook

    When it comes to usage, the results are as expected, considering the previous data point. Our respondents reported that they leverage videos more in Facebook Ads — 63.24% of them said they favor videos over images.

    Facebook Ads formats

    Not surprisingly, it takes more time to produce videos than images. Most of our respondents stated that they need about one hour to produce an image-based Facebook ad, while it takes more than a few hours to produce a video-based Facebook ad.

    Facebook Ads production

    So while video does have a lot of potential, it also requires significantly more effort. This is why the decision to pick the “best” format isn’t always straightforward. It often depends on the specific goals of the ad campaign and its budget.

    For instance, according to Kimberly of Frugal Livin image ads have a better CTR and CPC than video ads.

    “Therefore, we stopped using video ads for clicks and conversions. However, we haven’t completely abandoned video ads; instead, we use them at the top of the funnel to create brand awareness.”

    Moneyzine’s Jonathan Merry chimes in with his analysis: “The effectiveness of video ads also depends on the campaign objective. When running video ads for top-of-funnel objectives, such as increasing conversions, the cost per thousand impressions (CPM) tends to be lower. On the other hand, campaigns focused on conversions often yield more expensive results, as they target individuals with a proven history of converting.”

    Effective Ways to Optimize Videos Ads on Facebook

    Let’s explore expert tips on how to make the most out of your video ads on Facebook.

    Keep It Simple

    Short videos that use text overlays or subtitles tend to work better, as they quickly and effectively communicate the main points. As Shafi Khan from Optiux Marketing observes, “Videos with texts help the ad watchers understand about the product/service being promoted and convinces them to click to know more.”

    These overlays help viewers comprehend the product or service being advertised and motivate them to click to learn more. According to Khan, such videos attract 20% more clicks than image ads.

    Use Subtitles

    With 85% of all video content on Facebook watched without sound, subtitles are a must. Gabriel Marguglio from Nextiny Marketing says that “Subtitles provide you with a way to inject well-written ad copy into your video scripts that increase overall engagement and conversions.”

    Erik Wright of Value Land Buyers agrees with this sentiment. “One important factor is that the video needs to have easily readable subtitles. A significant portion of people keep their volume off when scrolling through social media, so having subtitles is an important detail to improve engagement on the video ad.”

    Subtitle software can help you adjust the size, color, and font of your subs to make them clearer. Here is a list of good subtitle editors.

    Show Something Unique

    With over 2.5 trillion posts to date, making your video ad stand out on Facebook can be a daunting task. However, Srish Agrawal of Infographic Design Team encourages marketers to use this massive volume as motivation to create compelling video content. 

    “Most people on Facebook are just rapidly scrolling through updates, so you need to make a video that is very visually appealing within the first few seconds, and makes them want to keep watching.”

    Target TOFU Audiences

    Carma Levene from Carma The Social Chameleon advises using video ads to target audiences at the top of the marketing funnel. Videos tend to yield more clicks but may result in a lower (CTR), likely due to the passive nature of video watching.

    Therefore, Levene recommends retargeting longer-watching audiences with other ad formats to guide them further down the funnel. Jackie Kossoff and Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers echo similar thoughts, stating that the type of video ad you create should depend on the engagement level of the audience.

    “That’s one of the reasons it’s so effective to use Video at the top of the funnel – you can separate the longer watchers as having a higher intent and retarget them with other ad formats to help more [move] them down the funnel.”

    Retarget Facebook Video Viewers

    It’s also advisable to leverage Facebook’s audience creation feature to retarget viewers based on their engagement with your videos. Violeta Morales from Gray Group International and Paul Fairbrother from AdEspresso suggest using this strategy to nurture video viewers until they convert into customers. They recommend creating an audience based on video interaction and retargeting them with a direct response ad.

    Align Ad Format with Campaign Objectives

    Your ad format should reflect your campaign goals. Blake Smith from ClockOn Australia suggests that if your campaign’s goal is to direct traffic to a landing page, image ads may outperform video ads. On the other hand, video ads can be more beneficial for creating brand awareness at the top of the sales funnel.

    Building up on that, Frugal Livin’s Kimberly found image ads superior for conversions but still uses video ads at the top of the funnel for brand awareness. 

    “We then retarget those who viewed the video with image ads. Video ads have the lowest cost-per-view (CPV), sometimes as low as $0.01 or $0.04. The choice between video and image ads depends on your key performance indicators (KPIs). Our KPI for videos is cost-per-view, while for images, it’s cost-per-landing-page and cost-per-conversion/sale.”

    Don’t Waste Time

    Facebook recommends keeping videos short and capturing your audience’s attention quickly. If you put the most interesting part of your video at the very beginning, you’re more likely to draw viewers in immediately. For the same reason, you want to feature your product or brand message quickly.

    A video length of 15 seconds or less makes your ads eligible for Instagram Stories and Facebook in-stream placements. In addition, it means that more people will stick with it until the end. That doesn’t mean all of your videos should be no more than 15 seconds long, but it is something to consider when you’re planning content.

    Make Sure Your Technical Specs Are On Point

    Another tip straight from Facebook is to export videos in H.264 with AAC audio and in MP4 or MOV format. Aim for an aspect ratio that is no larger than 1280px wide and divisible by 16px, with a frame rate at or below 30fps.

    This is a crucial aspect of the user experience. Most Facebook users hold their phones vertically, so a vertical or square video, especially in a 4:5 ratio, can provide a more immersive viewing experience. Keep in mind that different ad placement calls for different aspect ratios, so ensure your video is sized accordingly.

    Also, be mindful of the device and network capabilities of your target audience. Tailor your content accordingly using Facebook’s detailed targeting options, such as offering a slideshow or image ad for users with older smartphones and presenting HD video ads to those in areas with robust connectivity.

    Facebook Ads Dashboard Template

    Unlock the Power of Data-Driven Decision-Making in Facebook Advertising

    The data speaks for itself — videos can be a powerful medium for driving more clicks and engagement, outperforming static images in most situations. But as with many things in digital marketing, the devil is in the details. It’s not just about choosing video over images but about leveraging the strengths of each format, aligning them with your campaign goals, and delivering engaging and relevant content to your audience.

    Successful Facebook advertising also involves careful audience segmentation, smart retargeting, and using insights to tailor future campaigns. A crucial takeaway from our experts is that no matter the format, the content needs to be compelling and high-quality to resonate with your audience and drive engagement.

    This may feel a little overwhelming or too time-consuming to manage, but there’s a way to simplify it so you can focus on more high-level strategies. 

    You guessed it, that’s where Databox comes to the rescue. With over 70 integrations and 300+ dashboard templates available, our comprehensive data reporting and visualization tool can help you track and measure your ad performance across multiple platforms, including Facebook, giving you the insights you need to make data-driven decisions and optimize your campaigns.

    After all, a well-informed decision is the best decision. Ready to start optimizing your ad campaigns? Start your free trial with Databox today. When you know better, you can do better, and we’re here to help you achieve exactly that. Try Databox, and take your digital marketing efforts to new heights.

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    Article by
    Davor Štefanović

    Davor is an English literature graduate and an avid reader with a passion for languages. Working as a translator, editor, and writer has allowed him to learn about a wide range of topics — making him something of a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to content. In his spare time, he reads, plays video games and boardgames, and runs/plays tabletop RPGs.

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