6 DIY Tools Merchants Can Use to Make Video Ads

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Without their own production capabilities, or the funds to hire an ad agency, the vast majority of small businesses have been shut out of video advertising. Even as video becomes a more important channel for customer acquisition and sales — with national retailers like Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and Target spending millions on branded content and digital video programming — most very small businesses with limited budgets are stuck on the sidelines.

The opportunities for businesses that do take advantage of video advertising are immense, part of the reason why spending on original digital video programming is up 114% since 2014. Pre-roll video ads can familiarize audiences with lesser-known brands, and spots that coincide with PPC campaigns have been shown to increase ad recall and lift brand awareness.

Here are five examples of platforms that VSBs and SMBs can use to create their own digital video ads.

1. YouTube Director: Step-by-step video ad creation for SMBs
Earlier this summer, YouTube introduced a suite of products for advertisers who are interested in shooting and editing their own video ads. Using the YouTube Director mobile app, merchants can create video ads on their smartphones with ready-to-go templates. The app guides merchants step-by-step while they shoot various scenes and add text, music, and animations to their videos. YouTube also offers a service for merchants who don’t want to make ads themselves. The company will send a professional to shoot and edit the video, just as long as the business spends at least $150 in YouTube ads.

2. Promo: Using short clips to create professional-quality videos
Promo is a social video service from the visual content creation platform Slidely. Using Promo, businesses can access millions of video clips and hand-selected music that has already been licensed for commercial use. Combining these elements with their own logos and text, merchants can quickly create professional-quality videos to be shared across social media platforms. Promo says its videos can be designed to boost brand awareness and web traffic, promote limited-time sales, or tease new products. Free trials are available for businesses.

3. Animoto: Stylized videos for merchants
Animoto gives businesses the tools, and the templates, to turn photos and video clips into professional-looking videos. Realtors, photographers, and educators are Animoto’s target audience, but the platform can really be used by businesses in any vertical to create company introductions, product overviews, content marketing, and event recaps. Animoto’s video editor lets users pick their video “style.” Users then overlay text on their photos and video blocks, adjust pre-block timing, and add voiceovers. Animoto also supplies users with commercially-licensed music tracks. Businesses can click to share their videos on social media, or they can download their videos in HD format. Professional plans cost $22 per month.

4. Sightly: Dynamically localize video ads
The video ad technology company Sightly allows small businesses and larger brands to dynamically personalize the commercials they create to reach defined audiences at the local level. Using the ad personalization tool, businesses can quickly generate thousands of versions of their video ads based on location, ad content, offer, or personal affinities. Businesses assign points in each video where the custom elements should appear, and Sightly automatically inserts those points into each ad version. Sightly also offers optimization and reporting features for users. Merchants can contact Sightly for custom pricing information.

5. Viddyad: Creating custom videos
Viddyad is an automated, cloud-based video ad creation and distribution platform. Merchants can create videos for their websites, online video ads, social network videos, and product videos by using short clips and music provided by Viddyad, and then adding their own images, text, logos. Creating and previewing videos is free. Pricing for HD videos without watermarks is determined based on the length of the video, starting at $99 for a 10 second video. Merchants can also pay extra for premium images, premium clips, or for Viddyad’s professional editors to make small edits and changes to their videos.

6. Shakr: Automatically making videos from snippets of information
Rather than starting from scratch, Shakr gives businesses a way to customize video designs that have already been made by professional designers. Using their own photos and video clips, merchants can customize hundreds of video designs. In addition to online video ads, businesses can also use Shakr to create digital signage, product videos, and social media videos. Videos made for free have a Shakr watermark. To remove the watermark, merchants need to sign up for a paid subscription plan. The company’s lowest price tier costs $49 per month.

Know of other tools businesses can use to create their own video ads? Leave a description in the comments.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.


Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.