We Just Launched Three Soapbox Ads That Cost $111,000 to Produce

September 14, 2018

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Phil Nottingham


We’re saying goodbye to Soapbox on 9/1, but you can still [record video] (https://wistia.com/product/video-recording) with Wistia.

What impact does production quality really have on a successful video advertising campaign? Will better gear and a glossier finish really help elevate the perception of a brand? And is it possible — with the right planning, pre-production, and creative mindset — to create a quality ad with just an iPhone?

We wanted to find out, so we reached out to our talented friends over at Sandwich Video in Los Angeles with a unique request.

We challenged Sandwich to create three different videos, all advertising the same product, but with three radically different production budgets: $1,000, $10,000, and $100,000.

All of these ads served to promote our video creation product, Soapbox.

Soapbox is a primarily free Chrome extension designed to reduce the financial and technical barriers to making videos. So, working with Sandwich on this ad test seemed like a perfect fit. Why not prove that you don’t need to break the bank in order to create great videos by, well, breaking the bank.

Here’s what they came up with:

The $1,000 Ad

Claude Zeins directed, starred, and shot this video on his iPhone X.

The $10,000 Ad

This video was shot on a Canon C300. Also directed by and starring Claude.

The $100,000 Ad

A full production crew was brought in for this video, which was shot on an Arri Amira. Claude had done quite a lot of work by this point. So, for this video, Sandwich decided to upgrade him.

What we plan to learn

An experiment like this can’t only be measured in numbers, and we’re focused on discovering both the qualitative and the quantitative learnings.

The creative team has already learned a ton about big-budget video production, how to use creativity to overcome constraints, and how to produce a quality video on a budget. Spoiler alert: there will be a LOT more on this coming up real soon … 

We’re also excited to see what the responses are to the ads:

Did the value proposition of Soapbox come through? Which ad did people like the best? Were the jokes we came up with in pre-production actually funny?

We may be creative types, but we’re also marketers. So naturally, we also wanted to take this opportunity to ask ourselves some difficult questions about video quality and distribution:

Does an ad require professional video production to be successful? Do certain ad forms perform better than others? How should businesses think about serialized distributing video content?

To try and answer these, we decided to run some tests.

How we’re distributing the ads

Based on our prior successes with video on Facebook, we decided to focus our experiments on this channel. Plus, Facebook allows for some pretty innovative ad buys.

Here are the tests we’re running:

Direct Response

We’re distributing each individual ad separate from one another, to the same target audience, with a singular call to action — sign up for Soapbox.

Sequential Advertising

We’re showing the $1,000 ad to a seed set of potential Soapbox users. Those who engage with the $1K version then get served the $10K version. And those who watch the $10K version will get to see the $100K version. The messaging will hint at the fact that we’re spending more and more money at each stage to try and capture the audience’s attention.

Will a multi-touch campaign outperform a single-touch campaign? We’ll have to wait and see.

Video Carousel

Facebook Video Carousel ads are great because they allow you to run a single ad with three videos displayed in sequence. Most companies use this format to tell a linear story with three, simple short ads. But few, if any, have created three standalone ads for the same product that all work together to tell a more complex narrative.

This is a really exciting learning opportunity for us, and we can’t wait to see how all of our tests turn out. Which ad did you like the best? Which version of Claude was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.

*Update: November 14,2018. Now, you can view the results from this ad campaign in our full report.

Want to see how each ad performed — and what we learned from running this campaign? Simply enter your email below for the PDF!

September 14, 2018

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Phil Nottingham


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