A Fish Needs a Fishing Hook, a Human Needs an Ad Hook

A Fish Needs a Fishing Hook, a Human Needs an Ad Hook

Edvinas Maciulevicius is the creative director at Silksocial.co. Over the past two years he has created hundreds of ads for dozens of eCommerce brands in pretty much every niche you can think of. And he is about to share his best practices.

Although the ad game is constantly changing, some principles are timeless. I’ve learned and mastered these through firsthand experience. This article is my best attempt at summarizing one of those principles.

What is a hook?

A hook is the first 3 to 5 seconds of your video and it is the most important part of your ad. Changing just the first 3 seconds can have a massive impact on the performance of your creative. If you’re suffering from low click-through rates (CTR%) and high cost per click (CPC), then your hook can almost certainly be better.

Here are two video engagement curves from an A/B test we ran at Silksocial. Both ads ran for 3-5 days, and the only difference between these was the first 5 seconds.

Video 1 Hook 1

This small change increased the number of people watching the video through to the end from 20% to 40%, and decreased the cost per click (CPP) from $28.44 to $19.54!

Video 1 Hook 2

In other words, we paid 30% less to acquire a customer just by changing our hook! But how?

Understanding the video engagement curve

The typical Facebook video engagement curve is shaped like a hockey stick and it follows an unspoken rule:

If you can lift the hockey stick at the top, the rest of the curve will be lifted along with it!

Typical video engagement curve

If you get more people to watch the first 3 seconds of your ad, then more people will watch the ad all the way through, and they’ll be more likely to click it.

It’s a win-win-win.

5 Scroll Stopping Hook Ideas

So how do you create a hook that triggers this lift in the engagement curve? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. But through experimentation, you’ll discover what resonates the most with your audience! As a great starting point, here are 5 scroll-stopping hook ideas that we know work. How? All of these hooks were clear winners that we produced and tested at Silksocial!

1. Start with user-generated content (UGC)

Just like Simple Painting did.

UGC is a fantastic hook because it’s native to social media. The key here is to make it look like an organic social media post. But be careful, most of the UGC we see is not that good. Make sure that it’s brightly lit, the subject is in frame from the waist up, and it stays on brand.

2. Faces go first

As they do here, in Neckology ad.

We found that close-up shots of faces work really well to catch someone’s attention. There’s something about eyes that makes people want to stay. This example from Neckology produced great results. We’ve since tried this close-up approach with other brands as well, and it works at least 8 times out of 10. Give it a shot yourself!

3. Pose a question

Build curiosity like in this ad for Bottoms Lab

Posing questions is a great hook for two reasons. First, a good question will make the customer feel the pain of the problem that they may be facing. They’ll also be more open to a solution. The solution? Your product, of course!

Second, asking a thought-provoking question can make your ad less disruptive as it makes the customer think about themselves instead of your ad.

4. Shock and disgust

As we did in this ad for Sttoke

We try to use as much shock and disgust as Facebook will allow us to get away with. The best way to do so is by finding a way to tie this shock and disgust to a problem that your product solves. It will make the customer that much more open to a solution. But be sure to maintain balance and not push your customers away by overdoing it.

5. Before & After or Comparisons

Like in LastPad ad

With this hook, people see the instant transformation of your product. You have to be careful how you use this because Facebook doesn’t actually allow blatant before and after images. But there are some ways to work around this. For example, instead of “before and after” you can say “Them vs. Us”, or “Day 1 & Day 10”.

All of the ads above are winners that our clients scaled up successfully, largely due to their great hooks. We A/B tested at least five different variations for each ad to find the winning hook. And there’s always at least one clear winner. How do you know which one is really a winner? It will have the higher CTR% and lowest CPC.

Always test your thumbnail, too

To go an extra step we always recommend testing at least five different Thumbnails. This is the step we take after we’ve identified the winning hook. Changing the thumbnail alone can reduce CPM (cost per thousand impressions) by more than 30%! If you’re in the business of making more sales for less ad spend, you’re not going to want to skip testing this, too!

A great thumbnail can already be found in your ad. Usually, we scroll through frames in the ad to find moments that will capture our imagination. We use the same principles as the ones outlined above in 5 Scroll Stopping Hook Ideas. Close-ups of faces work well, in addition to moments that when paused will make you think, “What the hell is going on here?”. Curiosity is always great for engagement!

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