The one about getting video content for ads

The Short Story

This though blurb will explain how we avoided hiring a content team and instead paid micro-influencers more in order to keep the rights to their video content. We then use this content to make ads afterwards.


The Long Story

The beginning
It’s October 2018. The major ad platforms are pushing video – Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. People are consuming more video so video ads are cheaper. That’s a great opportunity for marketers, however producing video is expensive.

First of all most marketers are not video producers. You might have experience in Photoshop, InDesign, Sketch, etc…but probably not in Final Cut Pro.

You have a few options:

  • hire a content team or content producer in-house….expensive and takes a lot of time.
  • get a freelancer(s) to produce content…takes a lot of time to test and find the good ones.
  • use one of the platforms that create videos for you. You can submit text and pick generic stack videos to run in the background…might be good if you want to start testing low-budget video ads, but is not flexible enough to create great ads for your audience.

All these options have one inherent flaw. Anything you make this way will be…by definition…your communication of the brand which is single-minded.

The middle
We weren’t happy with any of these options. Our solution: pay micro-influencers to make video content and convince them to give us the rights to use the content in videos.

General strategy: I wanted to run Instagram Story ads using video. The obvious choice was to find Instagram influencers, ask them to do a Story, using video, ask for the actual video file and run ads. I’ll describe the process in more detail below. The actual video was a super simple selfie-style video of the micro-influencer talking to the camera, usually 15 – 60 seconds. (Sometimes I had to edit longer videos down to 10 – 15seconds for ads on IG or Snapchat).

If you think about this, it has a several benefits over producing your own content


  • Creativity. This is a big one for me. You simply give the influencer a few talking points you want to get across and him / her will make what THEY think is good about your product. With 10 influencers you get 10 creatives that are not influenced by each other. Love it.
  • Social proof. With this strategy you get an actual human talking about your app or product rather than a produced app. I did hire a video producer freelancer for one day to make a few ads just so I can compare results. The influencer videos were much cheaper in all markets, except for South East Asia. Weirdly, in SEA the polished ads worked best. In all English speaking markets, the influencers ads performed much better, sometimes at half the price. In fact the best performing ad was what I would consider the “lowest quality”. It was one girl, talking to her camera which is pretty low resolution, she used a sepia filter and her baby was crying in the background. Ironically, her British accent worked very well in the US.
  • Cost. You can hire a video producer freelancer. They are very much in demand so will ask for a lot of money. They can probably make 2, 3 ads in a day…8 hours of work, let’s say $20 – $50 / hour for a good producer or editor = $160 to $300. We specifically used micro-influencers in our niche with 5.000 – 15.000 followers. The price for this is $50 -$100, including the rights for global re-distribution of the content in ads. If you learn super basic video editing, you can chop up that 60-second influencer video into 5 different variations of ads. Even with 15.000 followers you won’t get any significant app downloads, but it doesn’t matter, you’re paying for content, not for branding. The little marketing you get is a cherry on top of the cake. Interestingly, female influencers were okay with the $100 price per Story, but male influencers with the same follower-count were impossible to find for such price. They think they’re worth much more.


  • Time. You’ll have to contact a lot of influencers and email back-and-forth a couple times before you find an agreement. If you reach out to 100 influencers, you’ll probably end up getting 10 deals and it might take a week or two of emailing.
  • You’re not in total control. I think it’s good to outsource the creative side, but if you want to control every aspect of your creative, this isn’t a good option.

The process was pretty simple. I would go on IG. Look up relevant # for our business. Scroll through top posts. Contact all micro-influencers that would fit. If they replied, I would check their social stats like engagement rate and audience demographics. If all fits, agree on talking points, price and delivery time.

The end

Using micro-influencer video content is cheaper than hiring a content creator. You also get the extra (and diversified) creativity of influencers. Most importantly, these selfie-style videos performed much better for our consumer app than any other video ad we made ourselves.

Pro tip. At first, I was emailing the influencers and telling them I want to use their video in ads. They would ask for more money considering they should earn “royalty”. Later I changed the wording and said something like “I got an idea of how to promote your profile as well. I can create ads with your content, include your name and run ads to an audience that is similar to your current audience. This will give you extra exposure and bring new followers. I think I can get xx impressions / week and help your profile grow. What do you think?” This was a win/win. They actually got exposure and we got great content.

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