Facebook Video Ads For Authors

[Case Study]

Video is a hot topic in the online advertising world, but it’s not something often discussed amongst authors. This could be for a number of reasons - and I’m only speculating here:

  • Video can have a high barrier to entry in terms of costs to produce a video that doesn’t cheapen an authors brand
  • If an author wants to use Facebook Video Ads but can’t afford or justify a professional to do it for them, they would have to learn video editing, possibly animation, possibly filming, casting actors, etc - that’s a lot to take on for someone who’s never produced a video before
  • And ultimately, there’s no real evidence out there that Facebook Video Ads perform better than images specifically for authors

So in this case study, I want to show you the pros and cons of using video as an author by sharing a recent Facebook Video Ads experiment of mine and help you decide whether they are right for you.

I think it’s important to say up front, that having previously spent 10 years in the video production industry, running my own video production company, I’m in a fortunate position where I can produce videos relatively quickly and inexpensively myself. Therefore, I’m able to test Facebook Video Ads for the books I’m advertising without breaking the bank.

With the Facebook Video Ads I’ve produced so far for books, I haven’t gone down the route of casting actors, assembling a film crew, etc. Instead, I’ve used my editing and animation skills to produce short trailers using elements of the book cover and/or stock footage. 

What You'll Learn In This Guide

  • My Facebook video ads strategy and setup
  • How to test video ads against each other - and why you should
  • Do Facebook Video Ads outperform Facebook Image Ads?
  • My results of using Facebook Video Ads
  • How I plan to move forward with Facebook Video Ads
  • And much more…

I’m also going to be sharing the actual videos I used in my Facebook Video Ads so that you can see what is actually possible.

Some Background

The book I’m advertising with these Facebook Video Ads is my wife’s book, ‘The Forbidden’, which is book 1 of a Fantasy Romance Series called ‘The Ancestors Saga’.

N.B. With any series you’re advertising, it makes the most sense to focus on advertising book 1 to bring people into your world, into your series. This is particularly important if your books need to be read in order.

In some series, the books within them don’t need to be read in order; if this is the case for you, then I recommend that you advertise the 1 or 2 books that bring you the most revenue - focus on the bestsellers in your series and by advertising these, you will see an increase in sales and exposure of your other books.

My Facebook Video Ads Strategy And Setup

Primarily, I focus on using images when running Facebook Ads because they have almost consistently performed exceptionally well, aside from the occasional days of ad variance, which happens to the best advertisers in the world.

However, I believe it’s important to be continuously testing new ideas, trying new things, otherwise, we just stagnate. And when we stagnate, we are in fact moving backwards because the world, technology, advertising, continues to evolve on an almost daily basis.

So when it came to testing these Facebook Video Ads, my ultimate goal was to see how the video ads performed against the long-reigning champions - the image ads.

It wouldn’t be a fair test, however, to run the new video ads against one of the image ads that has garnered hundreds of comments, thousands of reactions and hundreds of shares.

I therefore decided to set up a new campaign, with a new audience I had never tested before, using new image ads that had zero social proof (i.e. shares, reactions, comments, etc.).

When testing new ads, to save time and maintenance, I like to use Facebook’s Dynamic Creative, which allows you to test multiple assets of an ad (i.e. image, video, headline, ad copy, etc.) in a single ad.

Facebook will test all the different combinations of the assets for you, pushing more budget to the ones that resonate best with your target audience and produce the lowest cost for you.

I’ve written a whole guide on Facebook Dynamic Creative, which you can read here: A Guide on Facebook Ads Dynamic Creative

The alternative is that you create multiple versions of your ad which takes a lot of time and effort. Personally, I trust Facebook enough to go out there and find the best performing ad for me - they know a lot more about my audience than I do!

I decided to make the test as fair as possible by testing 3 images and 3 videos, all of which you can see below:

As you can see above, the images and the videos all use elements of the book cover, which really helps with congruence between the ads and the book product page on Amazon.

For this particular case study we are focusing on the video side of things. However, I think it’s important for you to know that I also provided 5 pieces of ad copy and 5 headlines for Facebook to test with the Dynamic Creative ad.

This will help me save time going forward as I’ll be able to take the winning images/videos, ad copy and headlines and create new standard ads (i.e. not using Dynamic Creative) for future campaigns, feeling confident that they will perform well.

With Dynamic Creative, because there are so many possible combinations of assets, they do take longer to collect statistically significant data. I like to let Dynamic Creative ads run for at least 7 days, which is what I did in this case, with a daily budget of £25 (approx $35 USD) and 6 different ad sets (i.e. audiences). 

First Time Using Facebook Ads?

Check out my FREE 3 Part Video Training Series for Authors, Jumpstart Author Ads, where I walk you through how to setup and launch your first ads on the BIG 3 advertising platforms for authors, Facebook Ads, Amazon Ads and BookBub Ads.

Testing Video Ads Against Each Other

Video is subjective, just as books are subjective. This is why it’s so important to test different videos against each other; people will react differently to different videos. I could have created 3 very different videos, which I have done in the past, as you can see from the couple of examples below that I’ve previously tested:

However, with this particular experiment, I wanted to try something a little different…

Each video was almost identical. The only difference was the reader quotes within the video. This layout of the main character with a quote above her has worked incredibly well with image ads and I wanted to see if I could improve results even further by creating a video ad.

Here is the top-performing image ad side by side with one of the new video ads I’m testing:

As you can see, they are very similar; the main difference in layout is that the text is centre-aligned in the video ad and left-aligned in the image ad.

I’ve also added a very subtle movement to the character and overlaid the whole composition with falling snow to add some atmosphere into the video.

Even when testing image ads, it’s worth trying different reader quotes within your images as they can produce incredibly different results, that you wouldn’t know if you hadn’t tested them against each other. 

My Results With Facebook Video Ads

Now the big question then…

Have these video ads outperformed my image ads?

In a word...no.

As you can see from the screenshot below of the Dynamic Creative results (after the ads ran for 7 days), Video Ad 2 was favoured in 3 of the Ad Sets and Image Ad 10 was favoured in the other 3 ad sets (the data here is ordered by number of link clicks, from highest to lowest). 

On the surface, this may look like a tie. However, in the screenshot below, you’ll see that I’ve highlighted the Cost Per Result column. In every case, the Image Ad has returned a lower CPC (Cost Per Click) than the Video Ad; £0.08 vs £0.12 (£0.15 for one of the ad sets).

Also highlighted in the screenshot below, the image ad produced a higher CTR (Click-Through-Rate) than the video ad, which means that more people clicked the link in the image ad (taking them to the book product page on Amazon) compared to the link in the video ad. 

What this tells me is that, yes, people were watching the video ad, but, they weren’t interested enough to click the ad and visit the book product page on Amazon.

Despite there being a clear winning video ad and a clear winning image ad (shown below), the image ad has definitely won this round.

Winning Video Ad

Winning Image Ad

How I Plan To Move Forward With Facebook Video Ads

The next step for me is to take the winning image ad, the winning video ad, as well as the winning piece of ad copy and winning headline (all of which were deemed winners by the Dynamic Creative ad) and create 2 new standard ads (i.e. not Dynamic Creative) and test them against each other in a new campaign, using the same audiences used for the Dynamic Creative test.

If the image ad continues to outperform the video ad, I will test another video against this winning image, using the same ad copy and headline.

It’s always a good idea to be testing new ad creative with Facebook Ads because you don’t want your ads to suffer from what is known as Ad Fatigue. This is where your audience start seeing the same ad from you again and again, engagement drops, CPCs (Cost Per Click) increase and you start to lose favour with the Facebook algorithm.

So keep things fresh, test new images, new videos, new ad copy, new headlines, etc. on an ongoing basis.

One caveat to this, however, is that if you have an ad that is working well, costs are stable, engagement is growing, then there’s no need to change this particular ad. I have had ads that have run for more than 6 months at a time, without me tweaking them once.

As the saying goes… if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

What I may do, is test the very first video ad I made for this book, The Forbidden, against the winning image ad. You can see this original video ad below.

I made this video using stock footage as the background and simply added some animated text, as well as the book cover at the end of the video and an underlying music track. When I first ran this particular video ad, over the course of around 3-4 months, it generated approximately 50,000 views, which is an amazing way to increase brand awareness of you and your books. 

Wrapping Things Up…

I hope this short case study has given you a glimpse into what is possible with Facebook Video Ads.

Video is by no means a necessity to run successful Facebook Ads. If you have the skills, time, money and/or resources, then I definitely think it is worth testing video ads because they do have a lot of potential.

If you’re just starting out, however, stick with image ads. They are quicker and cheaper to create and from my experience, produce just as good, if not better results than video ads. You can always move onto testing video ads as and when you have the resources to be able to do so.

If you have any questions about Facebook Video Ads that I’ve covered (or not covered) in this case study, please feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Until next time…

P.S. If you’re interested in where I get the stock footage and royalty-free music from for my videos, I use a website called Envato. They have huge libraries of music, videos, animation, graphics, photos and more.

Each type of content on Envato has its own section of the website; I use
Videohive for the stock footage and AudioJungle for the music.