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There is no inexpensive solution when making a video advertisement. It can cost you as much as $5 million (that is at the Super Bowl) or even thousands of dollars considering that 100,000 PPC pop-ups on YouTube can cost $.05, and will cost you minimally $5000.
Have you ever thought to make a video ad for under $1000? I met with a senior animator who confidently shared tips how to create such a video under $1000.
Video advertising is expensive. According to eMarketer, nearly $71 billion was spent on television advertising in 2015. The average commercial that runs 30-seconds is $1,500 for local and public stations but for nationally televised advertisements the cost jumps almost 20,000%, to $350,000 for a 30-second spot.
However, the 2015 budget was a 2% decrease from 2014, and surveys suggest that 2016 will see an additional 1.5% decrease. The eMarketer website is speculating that by 2020, television advertising will decrease in spending by 5%. In comparison to the severity of this decrease, print advertising has obviously decreased too, but at a lower deceleration rate than television advertising!
While television advertising is decreasing, more money is being invested in digital advertising and online advertising. In 2015, $69 billion was spent on digital ads. The only difference between television and digital advertising costs at the moment is $1-2 billion. This is a lot of money but less than a 1% difference! Nothing is cheap and taking the digital step forward will only cost more.
In 2016 US advertisers look to spend more than $40 billion on mobile advertisements alone, which is almost double that which is spent on desktop web-based digital ads. By 2020 almost $75 billion will be spent on mobile advertising, trumping any other advertising channel.
These online figures continue to soar. Yahoo offers a “homepage takeover ad” for half a million dollars per day! YouTube offers something similar and Facebook offers log-out screen ads for a quarter of a million dollars each. Hulu charges $30 per click on in-stream ads, and even the mini social media giants are cashing in, such as Foursquare which charges $.40 per click for any ad product promotion. 40 cents is still expensive when considering hundreds of thousands of clicks.
One calculating system suggests that advertisers should look to spend between $40,000-$500,000 on any given digital ad when done properly, including creation, rendering, and public promotion.
With a better understand of why digital advertising is dominating television, let’s explore why the venue for advertising has switched.
Social networking sites are making us ignore the TV. How many of us sit at home watching TV but check our phones every few minutes?
According to TIME magazine, Americans check their phones over 8 billion times a day, with the average person looking down 46 times per day. People are interrupting their meals, their children’s sporting events, and some people, even interrupting their own sex life, to check a status update, to check-in somewhere, or to find out what is happening in the world.
With each glance, there is an opportunity for a brand or company to offer a short 5-15 seconds video ad that pops up on a news site or while you are on Twitter or Pinterest. Facebook has even gone as far as making it easy for individuals to set up personal advertising with any sized budget, to set up a reach and a timeline for advertising.
The television is getting smarter but the mobile device continues to win. YouTube engagement is the highest it has ever been with monthly viewership 3 times greater than the audience size of the Super Bowl, the most widely watched sporting event in the world. Millennials, for instance, are engaged and connected to YouTube with over 70% of them using it weekly and over 60% admitting to being influenced by brand advertising when viewed through a YouTube channel.
Marketers are turning their efforts to the digital advertising platform as the main method of reaching the most people effectively and efficiently. This Pepsi commercial was very popular when it premiered in the 1980s on television but still has over 65 million views to date on YouTube. See for yourself how digital venues are swallowing up television ads:
Jan Edri is a senior video animator and consultant. He has worked on hundreds of video ads and produced short features as well. He designs his own scenes but is also an expert in Adobe After Effect, a necessary component of the video rendering process. I was able to sit with Jan to see how far $1000 would take us.
AT: Thanks for taking the time to meet! Let’s cut to the chase: can I make a digital video ad for $1000 or less.
JE: Yes. Of course!
AT: Talk me through that process. What are the things I need to consider when putting this budget together?
JE: First and foremost you need to have a script written. Typically when I work with clients, I tell them that they should put together their script because they may have a budget for a 2D video but they are script writing for 3D animation, which costs almost 4 times as much to produce. Moreover, who better to know what they want than the client themselves! If they do not want to write a script, they need to realize this can add some extra costs, as little as $100 and maybe even as much as $500. It can get costly when recruiting a ghostwriter.
AT: Okay. So I have my script all written and I am going to assume with my budget, I need to produce a 2D video, correct?
JE: Yes. It will be difficult to produce 3D videos with less than $2500. But 2D does not limit you to animation. You can still use video clips of real people, it just may be more money.
AT: Can you go into that some more? Costs for video clips?
JE: Usually an animator like myself will ask for stock footage whether these are photos or video clips. You can find these at one of the dozen online libraries like VideoHive or Photostock. Expect to spend up to $200-250 there, depending on the number of clips you buy and the quality.
A 30-seconds video clip of a hand that is writing a message on a blank piece of paper (that can eventually be edited by your animator) will cost $8 but you are only likely wanting to use 2-seconds of that very long clip. Whereas you may use all of a 10-seconds clip of a woman walking down the road with luggage. This will cost you $25 however. You would need to spend more money, let’s say $40 to make up that 10-seconds of video time using multiple short clips. So it is going to shift based on your script.
AT: Why is this the case, though, that long videos cost less than short videos?
JE: This is not always the case, but it really depends on the footage you are purchasing. One has the actual actress with her face, so that will cost more. But that also adds to the effect of the video, because having a real person’s face will add emotion to the meaning of your ad, versus a random hand just writing a message. I am not saying you cannot find video clips with people’s faces that are $8 but based on the depth of your scene, the cost can change, which is why I think it is important to budget anywhere between $25-100 per clip. There is also higher quality video footage, like HD, that will double the price or at some libraries, triple the price.
There are a lot of things to consider. Don’t forget, you can find free images on google, or cheaper photo files elsewhere to create an ad using slides or photos. If you are in the business of making these videos, however, I do recommend just getting a subscription to these sites. Putting out $200-300 in the short term for a monthly subscription can pay out, in the long run, creating a massive library for your needs. Be careful, though, because sometimes you are buying a one-time license. Be sure to buy multiple licenses.
AT: So we have the script, and now you have covered some of the costs to consider with the scene library. What am I expected to get with a freelance editor in helping render this video?
JE: Hiring the freelancer can be tricky. Many times freelancers will charge you an hourly rate, and just run up the hourly total. I recommend getting a fixed rate in advance or a set time frame, so you know that $600 will cover you for two days of work all-inclusive, instead of getting a bill for 40 hours of work two days later, at $25 per hour. A typical 30-seconds advertisement if all pieces are given to the animator, can be turned around within a day or two. And I would say a contract of $600-1000 is a fair offer for a small project.
AT: Should I expect hidden fees hiring a freelancer? Do I need to pay additionally for editing or software licenses?
JE: You should probably work out all the details in advance, but when you hire a professional, or someone who claims to be a professional, they should be working with the most up-to-date software. I personally use Adobe After Effect and expect most of my competition to be using this as well. You are not going to need to pay for their license fees, but if you went out to buy a license to do it yourself, you would be looking at almost $30/month just for After Effects and closer to $75/month for all Adobe products. It is costly in the short term for one or two projects, but to do this professionally it is well worth it!
At the end of the day, make a deal with the animator and get a one-time price set in stone. Your animator should have what it takes to render your video beginning to end, so that should include the software to edit any visual, audio, text, or animation aspect of the video.
AT: What else do we need to consider?
JE: Do you plan to have audio? If so, you will need a voice over artist to make recordings for you. I recommend setting aside $25-50 for this and using Fiverr. It is fast and efficient.
AT: So we have our script, our library, and our audio. Is there anything else we need?
JE: Did you want a soundtrack or some type of music?
AT: For the sake of the argument, yes.
JE: Then budget another $25 and use a freelancer or Fiverr.
AT: Let’s say your services cost $600, then we spend $100 on stock footage, and $50 on a voice actor, and another $25 on a soundtrack…that gives us $225 to spare! What should we do with that money?
JE: I would not take it to the bank immediately. It is nice to have extra cash in case a scene does not work out and you need to rewrite the script and get newer stock footage. Sometimes editing files from Fiverr require an extra $5-10 to change something. Keep these small extras in mind because by a project’s end they will add up.
But I would also suggest thinking about spending as much as you can into rendering the video with the editor. It is very important to me as an animator that I produce videos that are high quality and good. It is better to create a 15-seconds video ad that is very high in quality and overall a great video, than a 60-seconds video that maybe says a lot of messages but is slow and poorly edited. You may have a lot of things to say in your message but less is more. To make a less is more video, you sometimes need to put more money into its creator.
AT: Thanks for these insights! What should I do once I have my video rendered?
JE: Assuming you do not have any money left in your budget, I would recommend turning to social networking sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. These are the best ways to get the word out, but if this is a video for internal use or a company related project, then add that video directly to YouTube and send an email.
I learned a great deal with Jan, and put the $1000 budget to the test! Following my interview with Jan, I put this together. I started with a $1000 budget and immediately starting searching for what I needed in making a cost effective video ad.
Remaining Budget: $1000
The Script Total Cost: $0. I took care of this and for fun wrote a 30-seconds video advertisement for a fake Sunscreen company “ABC”. The general story involved two people at the beach. A man eating ice cream and a woman applying brand “ABC” sunscreen. We see an image of the bottle squirting the cream. We see hands rubbing together. We see the hands applying to the body. Between these cuts, the man is eating the ice cream but his skin is getting redder in tone (hopefully, my hired animator can make these types of changes). Some beach music plays in the background and a voice over reads a few lines of text during the video. At the end a screen fades in with the phrase written and spoken: The Sun Does Not Discriminate – Product “ABC” Cools and Protects Without the Extra Calories.
Remaining Budget: $1000
The Video Scenes/Pictures Total Cost: $40-50. Pricing checked at VideoHive, ShutterStock, and iStockPhoto.
Remaining Budget: $950
The Voice Over/Audio Total Cost: $60. Pricing checked at Fiverr and UpWork.
Remaining Budget: $890
The Soundtrack/Audio Mix Total Cost: $25. I decided to check out pricing at Fiverr as getting official soundtrack permission from the big labels can cost up to $3000.
Remaining Budget: $865
The Animator/Editor Total Cost: $650-865. At Freelancer, I found a handful of animators and editors that have vast experience in animation and video rendering. Some highly rated freelancers charged as little as $20/hour and others as much as $45-50/hour.
Each of these had options to call in advance and prepare a fixed rate too, assuming a number of hours and workload. Fiverr had a similar case, but with all pricing starting at $5. All animators and video editors specifically wrote on Fiverr to be in touch before making any order online, assuming $5 would not be the total, I calculated the likelihood of it being $20-25 per hour. With $865 to spend on a video animator/editor, I think there is plenty of wiggle room. Worst case scenario, I can just hire Jan.
Remaining Budget: $0-200
We discovered that it is possible to create a video ad with a budget of $1000. Some extra tips Jan left me as I considered preparing this video:
Advertising continues to shift from television and desktop to mobile devices. It is time to consider the cost benefits of making a video advertisement with a smaller budget. It is going to be expensive in general because it is a very competitive market, but there is a lot of ground to cover when sending a video off on the internet. $1000 may not always work for your company, but use it as a benchmark budget. It is possible when making a video advertisement on your own, to save thousands of dollars on the production line, and hire a little help to make the video you want.
I may be naive, but it was pretty easy in my opinion to take $1000 and run with it. Finding the right video editor/animator will take some time but the other pieces to making a video can be done at fractional costs.
Adam is a market associate at Idomoo, writing creative content, as well as, lending his voice for personalized video narration. He loves storytelling, bringing life to products with his words and insights. He also loves playing video games and watching sports. But when he is not at work you will find him with his kids and family. He is also on twitter @adamtitcher.