How to make great direct response video ads? Are they brand-driven or growth-driven


The best direct response video ads for social platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook drive conversions by persuading users to take immediate action. This can mean signing up for a newsletter, downloading an ebook, or making a purchase.

When a user is scrolling social media, breaking that momentum takes a compelling ad and a compelling offer to make them switch gears and pursue a purchase. Growth-driven ads have to meet users where they are.

The best growth-driven ads speak to a problem the customer is having, then drive urgency, then make it easy to take immediate action.

Of course, not all ads are designed to elicit this kind of immediate and direct response. This marks the critical difference between brand-driven ads and growth-driven ads.

Hypergrowth marketing must drive users to act.

Brand-driven ads can draw attention to your brand, garner page views, and generate new leads, but they won’t facilitate the same direct growth.

Primer has tested thousands of growth-driven ads, and we have the experience to help you develop ads that will convert at the highest possible level.

Here’s what you should know about the key differences between brand-driven and growth-driven ads—and why it matters.


Growth-Driven vs. Brand-Driven Video Ads

brand-driven v. growth-driven direct response video ads

Growth-driven and brand-driven ads both connect with consumers, but only growth-driven direct response ads persuade those users to take the next step and invest in your product or service.

Ultimately, growth-driven ads will help you expand your brand at a rate that meets your expectations and performance goals.

Let’s break down what’s important about each type of ad.



  •  Brand ads are often top-of-funnel (TOFU) ads that reach users early in the buyer’s journey. They raise awareness of your brand, and that awareness alone better positions users to convert later.
  • As the name suggests, these ads are all about promoting your brand. They tell a story, but they don’t necessarily drive a user to click a link, fill out a form, or buy a product.
  • Brand creative seeks to show how your brand is unique, i.e., what sets it apart from others.
  • Brand ads don’t always have a call to action (CTA), and if they do, it’s not to drive conversions.


Consider this example:



  • Growth ads reach users late in the buyer’s journey when they’re more likely to convert.
  • Customers are always the central focus. Growth-driven ads should be more targeted to meet customers where they’re at and speak specifically to the target audience.
  • Users at this stage need info that helps them validate a purchase. Growth ads provide this through an ad that links to a landing page. The ad offers essential product info, and the landing page tells them how to make a purchase.
  • Growth creative isn’t different just for the sake of being different. Growth-centered ads stand out because they have a solid hook and grab users’ attention
  • A growth-driven ad has an implied or explicit CTA, and that CTA has one goal: to drive conversions.


The same company may create two completely different ads for the same product, one focusing on the brand and one driving growth. 

For example, let’s say the company sells shoes.

A brand-focused ad might show someone wearing the shoes while running. The focus here is on the situation.

A growth-focused ad is more likely to show the shoes against a plain backdrop. In this case, the focus is on the product.

Brand ads have their place in the broader scheme of things, but only ads focused on growth will take potential buyers over the finish line and persuade them to take action.


How to Optimize Your Growth-Driven Ads

When creating and testing different iterations of your direct response video ads, here are steps you can take to maximize growth and your ROI.

1. Use Proven Ad Templates and Themes 

By using one of Primer’s proven video ad templates, you can build your direct response video ads frame by frame. Using these highly effective templates will give your creative team a roadmap for delivering winning ads that will convert, regardless of which social platform you run your ads on.

Check out these examples of ad templates we’ve seen convert time and time again.


User-Generated Content (UGC)

User Generated Direct Response Video Ads

A UGC-style ad uses the native style elements of social channels like TikTok and Instagram, imitating the feel of posts organic to those platforms. UGC ads feature content creators who demonstrate the usefulness of your product for consumers.

Here’s what a UGC ad looks like:

The “How It Works” Theme

The goal of “How It Works” is to build an ad that details, step by step, how your product solves a consumer’s problem. It should be succinct and contain just enough info to give a clear idea of how the product works and why it matters.

Here’s what a “How It Works” ad looks like:


Versus the Alternative

This ad style works by showing how your brand’s solution is the better alternative to another brand’s solution. 

The ad below emphasizes that contrast by positioning TeePublic as a better, easier option than finding t-shirts at the mall.

Here’s what a Versus the Alternative ad looks like:


2. Start Your Ad Strong, and Finish Stronger

Nielsen analyzed Facebook ad content for 173 companies and found that viewers who watched less than 3 seconds of an ad still created almost half the campaign’s value, and viewers who watched up to ten seconds created almost 75%.

Thus, the first several seconds of your direct response video ad needs to convince the user to engage instead of scrolling on. 

Meanwhile, the end of your ad needs to persuade them to take action. The ad also needs to deliver its message in the shortest possible time–though this varies between social platforms. 

For instance, while Facebook recommends videos no longer than 15 seconds, our team found that TikTok videos perform best at 21 to 34 seconds long for a 280% lift. Thus, TikTok gives you more time to tell a story and engage users.

These elements are key for any company aiming to convert customers and increase brand awareness.

An attention-grabbing hook needs to engage users from the very first frame. Primer has developed hundreds of proven hooks that will help take your ad performance to the next level.

For example, try one of our hooks that focus on the user experience: “My X went from this… to this… with [product]!”

Drive conversions by ending on a strong CTA. Strong CTAs for social channels like TikTok don’t need to be overt, and they can attract more engagement and clicks by skipping the brand cards and adopting a style that feels native to the platform.


An example of a product-focused CTA might be: “Say 👋 to [brand].”


3. Focus on “You”, Not “Us”

Users will quickly skip over ads that feel too polished and brand focused. The ad is less likely to convert if you mention the brand more than in passing, especially for apps like TikTok.

Instead, focus on how your product, solution, or service helps users by giving proof and inspiring them to take action. In fact, sometimes you don’t even need to mention the brand specifically.

An ad centered on the user might say: “Check out this [product] I’ve been using to help with x.”

Check out this ad by our partner Apostrophe as an example of what performs well on apps like TikTok.


4. Link Your Ad to a Landing Page

After you put in all the effort on creating your direct response video ad, don’t overlook the landing page.  Your ad will grab their attention, but it’s the landing page’s job to encourage them to make a purchase.

When an ad leads to a landing page instead of a page on your website, it is proven to drive more conversions, especially when the landing page:

  • Carries over the key elements of the ad experience
  • Answers questions a customer needs to have answered before buying your product (we call these buyer decision questions) 
  • Shows personalized social proof
  • Has a single call to action to make a purchase or fill out a form


5. Test Your Ads!

Rapid, high-volume ad testing using Primer’s Outlier Method lets you quickly identify high-performing ads. Then you can take what works and discard the rest, scaling and iterating new ads by targeting the most effective elements, like what text, colors, and images to include.

You can apply the steps in this blog to the outlier method to create winning ads across all paid social outlets.

Here’s how it works.

First, ideate and launch “big idea” ads based on key questions buyers have.

Next, pause underperforming ads and identify top performers that beat the account average. These are the “Outliers.” 

Use top-performing ads to scale the budget for the “wins” and make creative iterations. Then use these to test again.

Repeat these steps periodically, starting with a new “big idea” and continuing the process of identifying and iterating what works from the best-performing ads.

Depending on your budget, we recommend launching new big ideas once or twice per month. Continuously testing ads ensures that you’re able to iterate and develop ads that convert, keep pace with current trends, and scale your success without wasting your time or money.

This high volume of testing is the best way to get consistent, reliable results and maximize your ROI from your ads, but it also takes a lot of time and energy. That’s where we come in.

Are you testing enough? This ad strategy can 3.2x the growth of your direct response video ads.


How Primer Can Help

Primer works with our partners to develop and scale winning ads. We’ll handle the process for you, including creative strategy, design, production, reporting, and media buying, so your team can devote their resources where they’re most needed.

For high-quality ad creative with a rapid turnaround, our online platform Primer On-Demand lets you access videos, images, and landing pages proven to drive conversions.

You can also schedule a free consultation with Primer to learn more about creative testing and how to develop high-performing direct response video ads.