How to create ads that return a positive ROAS

Added on 3 Mar 2021 by Ollie Burrows

Videos on social media are becoming ever more popular, and introducing this into your marketing strategy is a must if you want to keep up with your competitors. It can also be a highly effective strategy, with 87% of marketers reporting that video gives them a positive return on investment.

When producing your videos, you need to not only make sure that the content you are creating is relevant to your audience and effective at converting potential customers, but also that the amount of money you are spending on your ad is worth the revenue that you are generating. For this we will look at simple rules you can follow to improve your content, and how to get the most out of your investment, by boosting your return on ad spend (ROAS).

Why use video for social media ads

Video on social media is now so popular, that if you are not already utilising it in your marketing, you are falling behind your competitors. 86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool, so if you want to keep in competition with them, now is the time to add social video advertising to your marketing strategy.

With the saying ‘a photo is worth a thousand words’, it is estimated that a one minute video is worth 1.8 million words. While this is an exaggeration, it illustrates how the format can be more useful in showing your brands value and messages, and that audiences are switching to easier to digest content. In fact, videos on Facebook alone total over 8 billion views per day. It's the reason why more platforms are putting their efforts into focusing around video content over text. In fact, videos on social media generate around 1200% more shares than text and images combined.

This is especially true in e-commerce, where users regularly search for unboxing and demo videos to see how a product truly functions and looks, something a product description can often struggle to portray. This in turn leads to more sales, with 64% of customers purchasing a product or service after watching a brand's social videos.

ROAS (Return on Ad Spend)

Return on ad spend (ROAS) shows you the ratio of how much revenue your advert is producing against how much you have spent on it. This is a simple way to see if your advert is having an impact and if it is worth the investment.

To calculate your ROAS, you simply divide the revenue that your ad has generated, by the amount you have spent. For example, if your ad has generated £30,000 and you have spent £5,000 on creating and promoting the ad, your ROAS has a ratio of 6:1.

As well as the money you have spent promoting your ad, you also need to include the costs in producing your video. This includes:

  • Salary Costs: If your video has been created by your in-house team, you will need to take into account the time they have spent on the ad, and how much that time would cost.
  • Production Costs: If you have used external production teams such as videographers, editors or animators. You would also include anything spent on hiring locations or equipment.
  • Talent: If you have any actors or voice over artists, their rates will also need to be taken into consideration.

Knowing your return on ad spend (ROAS) allows you to see how your ads are performing, and gives you the opportunity to see whether to continue with the ad or to try another approach. Having a good ROAS can depend on a number of factors, but if you are achieving a result of 4:1 or better, you can see this as a positive result.

In some cases, just because you have a low ROAS, does not mean your ad is not performing, as some video formats like brand videos, can have a long term impact and you will only see your results months down the line.

Ways to boost ROAS

Only keep the profitable ads

If an ad isn't performing well enough, then it is time to either try a new approach, or repeat one that has proved successful. The money you would waste on an underperforming ad could be spent on another ad that performs better, learning from why the previous ad failed.

Understand your target audience

If you want your audience to watch and interact with your ad, then you need to make sure it is something that interests them. Rather than making an ad that appeals to everyone, you want it to appeal to the customers that you want and think will spend money in your store.


The more someone sees your company/brand the more likely they are to remember you and be interested in you, so retarget your ads at people that have shown an interest in your brand (or even to people who have previously converted with you), if there are similar or related products that could be of interest to them. Make sure to implement frequency capping though, you don’t want to pester them!

Continuously monitor your data

While your ad may underperform initially, it may prove to work well in the long run. If an ad is performing well, you should look at optimising it and increasing your spend on that ad.

Keyword targeting

Make your keyword targeting specific, so that you only attract the customers who are likely to make a purchase with your store. If you want to promote a certain product or range, you want to attract the customers who are looking for these exact products. Also look at negative keywords. If a keyword gets a lot of clicks but low conversions, add it to your negative keywords list so people who search these words won't see your ads.

Have a solid landing page

Just because someone clicks on your ad doesn't mean your job is done, you still need to finalise the conversion. Make sure your landing page is specific to the product or service you have been promoting. The customer should see this straight away rather than having to search your site.

Seasonal offers

Use seasonal specific ads to promote offers when your customers are likely to be spending. For example on Black Friday and the build up to Christmas, customers are more likely to be spending, so if you can promote your offers and products to them, you are more likely to build interest and convert.

Keyword Match Type

Only use broad match keywords very sparingly for long tail terms, as broad match keywords tend to waste a lot of budget on entirely irrelevant search queries. To familiarise yourself more with keyword match types, read this guidance from Google.

Rules to follow when creating your videos

Focus on mobile devices

Users are watching more and more video content on their mobile devices, so it is important to cater your adverts to suit this. In fact, more than 75% of all video views now come from mobile devices, so if your videos are not suitable for this, that is a huge amount of your potential audience you are cutting out.

Your content can still work on desktop, or be repurposed for this, but mobile should be your main focus. This means that there are certain things to bear in mind when you are creating your video, such as video orientation and social platform.

Mobile videos are pretty accommodating in regards to aspect ratios and orientation, but on mobile, if you want your video to grab the most attention, you want to cover as much screen real estate as possible.

This is why vertical video is becoming more popular, as you can fill the viewers full screen without the need for them to rotate their device. If you are creating a vertical video, it is important to know before filming, as it will change the way you film. The standard method of filming (landscape), would mean that you would have to crop it significantly to fill the vertical frame, so you would want to film your footage vertically to avoid this issue.

Platforms like Instagram, with stories and IGTV and TikTok are heavily focused on vertical videos, whereas Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn cater better to landscape or square videos, so knowing which platform you are going to use will help make your decision on how you film.

Cater to a specific platform

Knowing the audience that you are wanting to target with your ad will help you determine what platform will be your main focus, as you want to make sure you are reaching them in the easiest way possible. You don't have to focus your ad solely on one platform, but having one as a main focus will help you when planning and creating your content.

Facebook: the most widely used social platform with over 2.7 billion users. Facebook also has the most balanced amount of users across age demographics, but teenagers and young adults are starting to drift away in favour of newer platforms.

LinkedIn: Used mostly by professionals and business owners, with 660 million active users. Works better for finding potential new clients and employees rather than customers.

Instagram: Over a billion active users, mostly aged under 30. Platforms focus is visual content, so video ads fit in well, and can often appear seamlessly in feeds and on stories.

TikTok: The fastest growing platform with 690 million active users, the majority of which are under 25. Useful for brands aiming to sell products to younger audiences, fashion, games etc.

Twitter: Has a balanced age demographic but a smaller amount of active users at 350 million. This platform works well for timely and trending content and works best with content that can be turned around quickly.

YouTube: Has over 2 billion users and over a billion hours of video watched each day. Users expect to see ads with videos due to how YouTube is set up.

Three second rule

On social media, everyones timelines and feeds are full of so much content that, unless your content grabs their attention immediately, they are likely to scroll on to the next piece.

You have to make sure that your audience stops scrolling and take the time to watch the content that you are producing, otherwise all the investment that you have put into producing your ad will have been wasted.

The rule for adverts on YouTube used to be that you have 5 seconds to grab your viewers attention, due to this being the point where the ‘ skip ad’ button appears. If you can grab your viewers attention in that timeframe, they are likely to continue to watch your content.

With social media, you have even less time to grab their attention, so you need to be aiming to make the first three seconds of your video as attention grabbing as possible.

There are numerous ways to grab your audience's attention at the start of your video, and these are a few suggestions to help with this:

Ask a question: By using a question or suggesting a problem, you start to get the viewer thinking about an answer and if it relates to them, and can keep them watching your video to see what answer you can provide

Eye catching imagery: Using great cinematography or professional looking footage, you can show the viewer that you have invested in your content, and that it can be worth their while watching.

Show what you are selling: If you are selling a particular product, try and show that product, or tease the product at the start of your video. Whereas in other forms of advertising you can spend more time building up, on social you need to be showing the viewer what it is that you are wanting them to be interested in.

Animals: People love watching videos of cute animals, so if you can utilise this into your content, while still keeping it relevant, it can be an easy way to grab your viewers attention.


When creating your ad, you need to take the time to make sure that your video has captions, allowing the video to still be understood without the need for audio. 92% of consumers watch videos on their mobile divides with the sound off, so if your ad relies on the audio, you will be losing a lot of your messaging and audience.

Captions can be used in two ways. They can either be uploaded as an .srt file with the video, allowing the user to turn them on/off. Or, you could add them when editing your video, so that they are always on and burned into your video. While allowing the user to toggle them off does have some flexibility, it is becoming common practice for them to be burned into the video, forcing the user to see them.

Short but sweet

Just like with the three second rule, the audience is used to consuming a lot of content, and are likely to leave your video if they start to lose interest. With that in mind, it is important to keep your video short, while still making sure it has the impact you want.

You want to grab your viewers attention and sell to them in an efficient way. The longer the video goes on before reaching a call to action, the less likely you are going to convert the viewer into a consumer as the view rate will start to drop off.

Once you have the viewer interested in your brand and what you are selling, this is where you can start to create longer videos aimed towards them, as they have already taken an interest and therefore will watch your content with intent, rather than intrigue.

Call to action

Your advert needs to have a purpose, what is the end goal that you want to achieve, and what are the results you want to see. This could be increased sales, boost traffic, promote a special offer, showcase a new product or simply to boost your brands image.

It is important that by the end of the video, the viewer feels compelled to complete this action so that you can see your results. If you are promoting a new product or an offer, you can link through directly to that page on your site. If you are wanting to increase your brand image, you might want them to subscribe or follow your channel so that they can see similar content and become customers in the long term.

There’s no point spending the time and money to create a great ad, if the viewer doesn't have a reason to act.

Eye catching cover

Just like on YouTube, where the thumbnail is one of the main deciding factors in whether someone views a video, you need to use the same mindset when creating a cover for your social ad.

Often, if the user has autoplay turned off in their settings, they will need to actively click on your video for the advert to begin, to achieve this you need to make sure your graphic grasps their attention. While it is important to make it interesting, you should avoid using clickbait, as while this may result in you getting more views, your brand's reputation and user actions will be lower.


While the imagery will be the most important way to grab the attention of the viewer, having a title that clearly explains the content and message is also important. The title needs to be relevant to the content, short and effective. You can use statements and questions in order to get the viewers attention, but like with the thumbnail, these should not be clickbait and be relevant to the content in your video. The more your audience feel they are being mislead, the less likely they are to consider your service or products.

Video formats

There are a range of video formats and styles you can use for your social ads, and which suits you best will depend on your audience, message, budget, goal and platform.

Most of these formats can be suited to match any budget, and with phone cameras getting better, more people are able to record video themselves without having to invest in video equipment.

However, while you can get a specific style with this that people are used to on social media, if you want your brand to look professional, you will need professional video creators working on the job. Just because more people can film content easily, doesn’t mean that it will be the quality you are looking for.


The same way people read product reviews before buying a product, they also watch testimonials to know what other customers think of your products or service. This gives them an understanding of the value of your company in the eyes of your customers, and whether they should trust purchasing from you.

Aim of Video: To show what your customers and clients think of your business and your service.


  • Can be more trustworthy as it is a customer saying positives about your company, not you.
  • Can be easy to record as they can be done over video call, or submitted by the customer. To look more professional, you can use a video production team to record testimonials along with B-roll to better create a vision of how your business works with your clients/customers.


  • Can be less attention grabbing than content that features exciting imagery.
  • While it is more trustworthy, as it is your customers/clients giving their opinion on you, the fact the video is produced by your company can still be seen by some as creating praise for yourself.

    Product Reveals

    The best way to showcase your new product to your potential customers is by doing a product reveal or launch video. This allows you to showcase the design and functionality of your product and build interest, which you can use to drive sales, with 84% of people being convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video.

    Aim of Video: To showcase a new product, or build interest around a product or series


    • A good way to build interest in your products as you can portray brand image with a stylised video.
    • Lead traffic directly to this product to get more specific sales, whilst boosting sales on other products as the customer will be in your store.


    • To get the best quality video, you will need to hire a video production team that can be expensive.

    Product Demos

    The reason unboxing videos are so popular is because an image and a written description can only explain a product to a certain extent. Being able to see what a product looks like in action and how it functions can really help sell your product and build trust with potential customers.

    Aim of Video: To showcase your product, showing what it looks like and how it functions.


    • Customers can feel safer when purchasing your product as they can see how it really looks and how it functions.
    • Allows you to explain better the functions and design of your products, and the benefits the customer will get if they purchase it.


    • While you are showing a real look at your product, you won't be showing any of the potential negatives or flaws that the product may have, so customers are likely to still have some doubts and look at some customer reviews/demos on YouTube.
    • To get the best results you would need to hire a video production team to make sure the product is lit properly, show the product from multiple angles and make sure your audio (if used) sounds right.

    Brand Videos

    While focusing on a certain product can boost sales in the short term, by creating a brand video you can start to grow your audience and get them used to the types of content you produce and products you sell. These should be used to show off your values, what your company does and why people should be interested in your brand. As your brand image and reputation increases, so will your sales.

    Aim of Video: To boost your brands image and reach, to get across your values, what you do/sell and why customers should be interested in you.


    • These videos allow you to showcase how you want people to think about your brand (e.g professional, exciting, creative etc…)
    • They can help boost your image and reach, so that your brand can become more recognisable with potential customers.


    • To really boost your brand, you will need a high quality video, which will mean having to hire a video production team.
    • These videos might not lead to immediate sales, but by becoming more recognisable, you can increase your sales in the long term.

    User Generated Content

    With video on social media becoming ever more popular, there is the chance that customers are producing content with your products or services. So this is where you can source these video clips (with permission of course) and use them in creating your own videos. You can also ask your customers to produce videos that you can use, with incentives like competitions or challenges. These videos can give off a more personal feeling by showing your actual customers and how they use your product.

    Aim of Video: Using videos produced by your customers to create new content that shows how your brand is received and how your products are used.


    • Cost effective, only have to edit the video once sourced
    • More genuine as it is your customers using your products
    • People are more used to seeing videos recorded on phone and webcams with zoom calls now the norm across TV advertising and programming due to social distancing


    • It can lack professional quality and you are heavily reliant on what the user produces
    • May not be appropriate for every market, but brands catered to young audiences especially will be able to use this format

    Motion Graphics

    Instead of using video footage of your products, you can instead use existing assets such as image and your brand's design to create videos using motion graphics. This can help promote an offer or product by showing or teasing the features of the product and can be a quick and cost effective option.

    Aim of Video: To portray a message, offer, new product line using motion graphics, images and text


    • A cost effective option as it doesn't, require video team, equipment or talent. It can be done by one animator/designer.
    • Without the need for filming footage, it can lead to a quicker turnaround time


    • Can only tell so much, isn't as real as showing your product/services in actual video footage

    Tried and Tested

    After you have created your social ad and started to spend your budget promoting it, it is important to constantly keep track of how it is performing and the results you are seeing.

    This is important to make sure that you are using your advertising budget in the most effective way, as you can see if any of your ads are underperforming, and then work out what you can change to improve this.

    If a video isn’t performing as well as you had hoped, you can experiment with changing aspects of your video, and see if you can improve. Things you could change could be as simple as the thumbnail, text that goes with the video or the audience you are targeting, or it could be that your video concept or content is not connecting with your audience.

    If your ad itself seems to be the issue, and it can not be easily re-edited to try another approach, do not be afraid to drop it, so that you don’t continue to waste your ad spend.

    However, some video formats, like brand videos, will have a longer impact that won't immediately show in your results. As you are aiming at boosting your brand image, rather than getting immediate results in sales, you might not be able to see the true effects of your ads for weeks or months down the line.

    A/B Testing

    Split testing (A/B testing) allows you to test small variations in your ads to determine which is most effective. To achieve this, split your audience into two groups and test two different ads to see which performs better.

    This way you can start to fine tune your ads so that they are having the most impact, by cutting out ideas and elements that are not as appealing to your audience. It is important to make sure that your ads are not vastly different, as it will be difficult to determine exactly what you need to change in the future to get better results. It is also important to only test one variation at a time, so that you can clearly see the results, and know which bits you need to change or keep.

    Things that you can look to change can be as simple as the thumbnail or accompanying text, or it could be the video format and content itself. By working out what performs best you can then create an ad that has the most impact with your audience, and make sure that your ad spend is not being wasted on underperforming adverts.


    By following these steps, you can produce content that will appeal to your audience and be beneficial in improving your ROAS. As with a lot of marketing, it will take until you find a method that works best for your brand, so it is important to keep checking your results and ROAS to make sure that you don’t waste time on underperforming ads, and can start to work out what content appeal to your audience best, and how you can get the best results.

    To make planning your next video project easier, be sure to download our handy Social Ad Video Brief Template