Video may be moving away from broadcast television, but make no mistake: On social media platforms, visual content like performance video is more powerful than ever.

Between 2016 and late last year, the number of American adults who tuned into traditional television dropped by 22%, according to Nielsen C3 data. Between 2016 and 2017 alone, views of branded video content grew by 99% on YouTube and a whopping 258% on Facebook. 

Unlike broadcast television, social platforms let brands segment their video content. Although some brand marketers are still posting one-size-fits-all brand videos, performance video producers use personalization to reach even more consumers with more relevant messaging. An Epsilon survey found that 80% of consumers aged 18 to 64 prefer to purchase from brands that offer personalized experiences. That means performance video offers growth opportunities marketers can’t afford to pass up.

Performance Video’s Perks

Most brand videos raise awareness of a company or product among a broad audience. Performance videos, however, are made to sell. Rather than focus on likes or shares, performance video producers are concerned with cost per acquisition. Performance video is a cost-effective way to acquire customers because it’s:

1. Tailored to audience groups.

Why would a company like ThirdLove create thousands of Facebook videos to promote its line of women’s underwear? After discovering Facebook photo ads reduced its customer acquisition cost, the startup decided to experiment with performance video. In a single month, ThirdLove’s video campaign dropped its user acquisition cost by another 25% and its cost per click by 20%.

The reason ThirdLove’s video ads fared even better than its photo-based ones: Video offers more opportunities for customization. Instead of simply showing a model against a static background, videos make it easy to demonstrate relevance. Shoppers, for instance, might gravitate toward content showing women avoiding uncomfortable bra problems by ditching Victoria’s Secret bras. A video showing a woman with asymmetry finding a bra that fits comfortably may resonate with women in the same situation. 

2. Focused on conversions.

How did ThirdLove know its performance videos were more customer-centric than past campaigns? “Customer centrism” can’t be quantified directly, but viewers don’t engage with content that isn’t relevant to them. That’s why performance video firms focus on conversions: Content that motivates a customer to take a desired action is clearly valuable.

When HP wanted to promote sales of its Sprocket pocket printer, it used conversion rate to determine the video length, format, and messaging its viewers preferred. The tech firm found that 15-second clips work best to spur sales. Its primary target audience — Millennials — responds particularly well to six-second ones, however.

3. Contextually relevant.

One reason Facebook developed its Suggested Videos stream in 2015, TubeScience CEO Moshe Mosbacher suggested, was to compete with YouTube’s contextually relevant video ad placements. 

Since 2015, the video landscape has evolved dramatically. TubeScience, a pay-for-performance video company, has become a pioneer in the space; it produces thousands of conversion-optimized video ads each week for Facebook, Instagram, Audience Network, Marketplace, and Instagram Stories. Its performance secrets? Context relevance and user-centricity. Each TubeScience video is customized for a distinct persona. Each also leverages Facebook’s AI-powered ad system to show videos to the right people in the right context to maximize their likelihood of converting. 

That customer-centric video strategy seems to be working. Insiders report TubeScience videos now represent more than 5% of paid views on the Facebook platform in North America, and its clients include many of the largest marketers online.  

The lesson for marketers extends beyond video or, frankly, any other medium: There’s no substitute for relevance. Expert directors, special effects, and masterful plots won’t make a difference if the content isn’t tailored to the viewer. Before rolling the cameras, performance video companies turn to data to determine what will resonate with different groups. No wonder growth-focused marketers are giving it a red-carpet welcome. 

Brad Anderson

Brad Anderson

Editor In Chief at ReadWrite

Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.