The ABCDs of effective video ads

Attention, Branding, Connection, Direction – these are the four principles of creating effective YouTube video ads. This ABCDs guide has recommendations to help you put our data-backed best practices to work. In fact, a study by Kantar showed that ads that follow the ABCDs as a guide yielded.


lift in short-term sales likelihood


lift in long-term brand contribution*



Hook and sustain attention with an immersive story.

Drop viewers in from the start and immerse them with audio and visuals that pique their interest.

Cheetos (US) takes viewers right into the story of its new Popcorn, with bright orange fingers and a musical track that reinforces the key message.

How to hook and sustain attention


Jump in

Get to the heart of the story faster. Use engaging pacing and tight framing to draw viewers in.

Fastrack (IN) dives right into the story and keeps the viewer engaged through dynamic visuals that play with pacing and framing.


Support the story with audio and supers

Reinforce your message with audio and text. Avoid competing elements.

Silmäasema (FI) places helpful emphasis on its text and guides the viewer's understanding with matching voice-over.


Keep visuals bright and high-contrast

Ensure that visuals are optimised for all devices.

Pokémon (JP) uses bright accent colours, strong lighting and contrasted visual effects to ensure visual engagement on small screens.



Brand early, often and richly

Make use of a broad range of branding elements to show and tell viewers who you are.

Ruffles (BR) introduces itself early and maintains a presence throughout by integrating branded products in the story.

How to brand early, often and richly


Show up early and throughout

Introduce your brand or product from the start and maintain that presence.

Weekendesk (FR) introduces its brand in the first five seconds and naturally integrates its product demo throughout the ad.


Reinforce with audio

Audio brand mentions supercharge onscreen brand visuals’ performance (see and say).

Oi (BR) reinforces the onscreen brand visuals with a corresponding brand mention.



Help people think or feel something

Create connections through the experience of your product.

Gojek (SG) presents the human experience of its product and the joy it sparks when it gets you to where you wanted to go.

How to help people think or feel something


Humanize the story

Feature people’s experience with your product and represent your consumer.

BareMinerals (US) features a diverse cast and gives them all a voice; showcasing the completeness of its range in the process.


Focus the message

Avoid doing too much in your ad. Keep messaging and language focused and simple.

M&M’S (AU) aligns its visuals and voice-over to deliver a simple and clear message: they’ve now got pretzels inside.


Be engaging

Lean into storytelling techniques such as humour, surprise and intrigue.

Fanta (PT) uses surprising visuals and dynamic voice-over to captivate the audience and deliver an engaging message.



Ask them to take action

Direct people to do exactly what you want them to do.

Halodoc (ID) shows how to book a doctor visit, whenever and wherever you are.

How to ask them to take action


Include a CTA

Be intentional and add a CTA driving a specific objective. Say what you’d like viewers to do.

Shopee (SG) clearly communicates its offer 
and instructs viewers to download the app to access it.


Supercharge CTAs with audio

Reinforce your onscreen CTA with voice-over to ensure that the next step is clear.

Air Up (DE) guides viewers with onscreen text supported by strong audio, reinforcing the final ask with the personality-filled voice-over.

* Source: Google/Kantar, The Short & the Long of ABCDs Effectiveness, Global, Apr 2021. n=11,000 ads.