Over the past month, marketers have been heads down giving extra thought to every video produced, how and where they share those videos, and how to think differently about messaging and video content in 2020.

Video marketers of all sizes have had to pivot their existing video strategies, and even pull some video creatives that didn’t quite hold up in this unchartered landscape.

Kentucky Fried Chicken, iconically known for their “finger lickin’ good” slogan, made the decision to suspend that long-standing video messaging in light of obvious contradictions with health & safety recommendations from the CDC. This temporary but necessary pivot kept KFC from airing content that would not only be contradictory, but problematic too.

And KFC wasn’t the only brand to have their once-clever video ads coincide with circumstances that rendered them no longer timely. Messages of eating with your fingers (albeit, pointing out how wrong it is always), meeting with friends IRL vs. over social media, and more have all since been pulled or pivoted, a feat that can be difficult but important for brands of all sizes.

Since the impacts of COVID-19 really began to shake the world, it’s only natural that online behavior has changed. If you are a marketer looking to create impactful video content that resonates amidst this time, read on for the data-backed insights we’re seeing right now, and some examples you can draw inspiration from.

Adjusting and pivoting: Why it’s key, and how to start

Deciding whether to tweak an existing campaign, create something new, or scrap the idea altogether is tough. On the one hand, you absolutely don’t want to put out something off-color. On another hand, you want to continue speaking to your audience. And on a (bear with me here) third hand, you have a budget to keep in mind.

For those still investing in branding campaigns, the performance of video creatives is more important than ever, but of course so is measuring success and ROI. Here, completion rate is a good barometer of a successful video ad. If someone watches your video all the way through to the end, it likely left an impression on them.

With millions of ads running through the Taboola, we’re able to analyze which video characteristics drive higher completion rates, and that’s what we’ll dive more into here.

We’re breaking it down by 6-, 15-, and 30- second ads. 6-second ads are typically used to increase the number of people who remember a brand or can recall it. Then respectively, the longer an ad gets, the more storytelling and selling you can do.

Overarching trends: Cue the comfort, nostalgia, and authenticity

This trends analysis updates weekly, and comes from the aforementioned ads running through the Taboola network. There are opportunities within the analysis to drill down by location, by device type, and by video duration. This first look is a general analysis across all of those factors, and a few key video trends have emerged that are showing meaningful impacts on completion rates.

Non-illustrated videos in color, with a male subject in a winter setting are helping marketers better convey their messages to consumers on a broad scale, and we’ve seen some of these characteristics make their way into recent ads from companies of all sizes.


This ad from Honda takes drivers into a winter wonderland setting with vivid, colorful imagery. It’s captivating, imaginative, and evokes positivity and adventure. Of course, with less drivers on the road traveling during these times, they don’t speak directly to a more indoor-focused period consumers are living in. But marketers are still finding that these ads perform given the nostalgia they evoke and the reminder of adventures to come that they bring.

The North Face

Similarly, this video from The North Face centers around finding curiosity. It focuses on skiers taking on a challenging descent and puts viewers into an interested and adventurous mindset. This echoes on the same concept as the above Honda video. Maybe consumers can’t be adventuring now, but they have adventures in their past that they remember fondly, and they look forward to the adventures to come.


This simple yet powerful ad opens with a wintry setting and tells a quiet story of McDonald’s locations around the world turning their lights on for those who need them.

Key takeaways:

  • Even if it’s not winter in the areas you advertise, consider why people might be gravitating towards wintry settings. Perhaps it’s comfort, perhaps it’s looking ahead to the future, or perhaps it’s nostalgia, too.
  • Keep it real, keep it vivid. Now isn’t the time for illustrations. Let real, tangible imagery shine through in every color.

6-second videos: Grab attention and get creative

6-second videos are a challenging ad format. In order to have an impact despite being compact, they have to be attention-grabbing, and straight to the point with little room for explanation.

Currently, the trends we’re seeing garner success for 6-second ads are winter settings, black & white, animals, and no food.

This Febreze video exemplifies one of these short video tricks—the inclusion of animals. It’s short, eye-catching, and fits right into the short format.


View this post on Instagram


Are you sitting down? Stinks sink into your sofa-Febreze finds odors sunk in deep to eliminate them.

A post shared by Febreze (@febreze) on

Key takeaways:

  • Go for attention. Six seconds is a really short amount of time, so pull out the stops and show a cute animal, or try black & white.
  • Get creative to show what you need to show. Want to get it across that the lipstick you sell lasts for 12 hours without smudging? Show one-second clips of someone wearing it at different points in their day. Most comfortable mattress? Someone sleeping with changing light from night to morning. You get the point.

15-second videos: Stand out with black & white

This 15-second Instagram video from Mailchimp is a great example of a black & white video with female subjects, and uses a technique that may be easier to take and apply to your own campaigns while you can’t host video production shoots—overlaying audio and text to a photo, or series of photos.

Key takeaways:

  • Black & white can set you apart here. In a sea of colorful video ads, black & white ones are thumb-stopping and eye-catching.
  • You have a little more time to tell your story, but not too much time. Try overlaying a little text or illustrations to aide in your storytelling process.

And for 30-Second Videos

For video ads that are a bit longer, trends remain similar, but with the notion that less is more. Longer ads benefit from less on-screen text, and more clear points of focus.


This 30-second Chevrolet takes a simple and focused approach, without text crowding the screen. And although people aren’t traveling on the road as much these days, this ad is still a relevant spot for Chevy because the day will come soon when people will be on the roads once more, looking for the car companies they will choose to do businesses with.

Key takeaways:

  • Stay focused. You’re asking a viewer to stay on with you for 30 seconds. You want to keep their focus, so minimize elements that distract from your core message.
  • You have a long time to tell your story—don’t rush it, and try relying on visuals and audio rather than text that might deter someone who doesn’t want to spend 30 seconds reading at that very moment.

Food for video thoughts: Comfort, strong visuals, and creative thinking

Video is an excellent tool to tell your story, whether it’s a long video, a short one, or somewhere in between.

At Taboola, we believe in the power of video ads, and are always putting together tips and best practices to help our video advertisers find success.

One recommendation in particular we always share is keeping an eye on our Taboola Trends. This tool updates weekly, pulling in the most current and data-backed recommendations for everything from images, to headlines, to—of course—video.

Video trends change all of the time, but in an ever-changing time and situation, it becomes increasingly important to pay attention to those changes as you think through ways to reach your audience through video. Be eye-catching, be comforting, and don’t forget to be human.

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