We were introduced to the six-second ad in 2017, and it’s expected to completely dominate video marketing in 2018. Gone are the days of 30 and even 15 second ads; say hello to the six-second “bumper” ad. From YouTube to Facebook to network television, six seconds is becoming the standard length of advertising across all forms of digital media.
The Birth Of The Six-Second Ad
Video advertising has changed in recent years due to two main reasons: social media and television.
Social media platforms have exploded in popularity. With this growth, marketers have been able to create successful promotions and loyal followings on these social platforms. Visual marketing, like video, has dominated promotional advertisements as a means of connecting with the audience.
For example, Facebook introduced the in-video advertisement. This is when promotional ads play in the middle of a non-promotional video. However, viewers quickly began losing patience for this unwelcome interruption. Thus, Facebook has since come out saying that they are working on implementing six-second ads as a way to minimize interruption and improve engagement levels.
But Facebook was not the first to introduce short-form video advertising. Google and YouTube have both been playing with the idea of six-second unskippable ads since early 2017. Google featured 10 six-second ads at Sundance in January 2017, which surprised and intrigued a number of viewers. This was Google’s first introduction to the growth of their six-second advertising plan. Throughout 2017, YouTube has seen a 70% quarter-over-quarter increase of advertisers using short-form video. They have reported that 1 in 3 advertisers now uses six-second ads on YouTube.
Television has seen a change in advertising in tandem because TV itself has changed. Netflix hosts no ads and DVR allows people to skip through ads. When people watch live TV or view shows online or mobile, they tune out during the commercials. They turn to their phones or tablets to keep absorbing more content—but not the advertising content that networks want them to see. Thus, networks are quickly making the change towards shorter, more digestible ads that will maintain viewer attention without losing out on network profits.
In June 2017, Fox Networks Group announced they would follow in YouTube’s footsteps and support the six-second ad. Eric Shanks, president of Fox Sports, said in an interview, “When the six-second ads are placed in unique positions, it has the potential to gain even more attention than a traditional unit.”
In August, Fox tested this at their Teen Choice Awards. They told viewers the program would return in less than 30 seconds. They then had a series of six-second ads before returning to the program. Fox found that this improved the odds that people kept watching despite the short interruption.
This advertising scheme will even hold true during NFL games. Football viewership has decreased in recent years because commercials extend the length of the program significantly. The goal is to cut down on the time spent on commercials while maximizing “free” time during play. For example, if a coach is going to talk to the ref, Fox can quickly play a six-second ad on the side of the screen. This cuts down on the time people are sitting for a program, optimizes marketing time for Fox, and encourages engagement (people aren’t turning away to their phones or tablets during lengthy commercial breaks).
Now that the six-second ad has hit some of the major online and television platforms, more businesses and brands are hopping on board this form of video production as well. 2018 will be bursting with short-form content like never before.
The Purpose Of The Six-Second Ad
Figuring out ways to keep the attention and engagement of the viewer has always been a major marketing struggle. Balancing length with viewership is the quintessential question for every marketer. The six-second ad has stepped in to push aside this concern.
With the millennial viewer especially in mind, video has to provide some form of instant gratification. When an advertisement pops up on TV or online, viewers “tune out” to look at their cell phone or read from their tablets. Videos need to be interesting and engaging in fast, short bursts to maintain engagement.
Google performed a study of over 300 bumper ad campaigns. They found that 90% of six-second ads drove recall and 61% improved brand awareness. They concluded that bumper ads are an effectual, cost-effective way to keep brands top of mind and build impressions and reach.
People generally dislike ads. But studies are showing that viewers are willing to engage with six-second ads because they’re fast, on-the-go content. If these videos maintain a sense of entertainment, people actually enjoy these bumper ads. Rather than seeing it as “just another commercial”, viewers can actually participate with the narrative and brand because they don’t feel it’s a waste of their time.
Six seconds is the perfect amount of time. It’s not intrusive to the viewer, but it’s still long enough to deliver some sort of story or emotion. And with a human average attention span of eight seconds, a six second story is the right amount of time to engage the viewer from start to finish.
The Story Of The Six-Second Ad
There has been some resistance from marketers, who are desperately trying to hold on to the 30 second and 15 second ads. This is highly based on a fear that marketers won’t be able to convey their message in just six seconds.
Nevertheless, the six-second ad is here to stay. It’s a more audience friendly form, especially on those platforms where viewers are trying to watch other content and are interrupted by promotional advertising.
The six-second ad isn’t an excuse to forgo the four building blocks of video, though. It simply means that production companies will need to come up with creative and inventive ways to condense narrative into a shorter space.
This isn’t impossible. Think of it like the haiku of video. The shorter the poem, the more impactful you have to make those few words. Or consider the well-known six-word story by Ernest Hemingway: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” It’s only six words, but it makes a heavy and sentimental impact instantly.
This type of intensity can result in surprising, emotion-driven videos that make a significant impression on the reader. This, in turn, can boost retention and recall of the brand, which is crucial to creating lasting brand awareness.
Retargeting With Long-Form Videos
The six-second ad wouldn’t eradicate other types of videos and marketing as some fear. Longer videos are still necessary—and possibly even more necessary than ever. Long-form videos will become “follow ups” to six-second videos.
Bumper ads are the strongest way to create new impressions. People who don’t have a connection to your brand don’t want to watch longer videos. But they will engage with your content for six-seconds, which isn’t intrusive to them. After you’ve had those first few short form impressions, you can then retarget with longer videos about your products and company. Once customers understand the brand and the type of content you put out, they are more willing to invest the time in your longer videos.
In this way, the six-second ad is boosting impressions while long videos will encourage loyalty and engagement.
Moreover, six-second ads will create a platform for episodic series of advertisements. Frequency and repetition is key. Aligning a series of six-second ads with a series of videos can create a cohesive set of impressions that will intrigue and delight the viewer in a unique way.
Creating The Six-Second Ad
How do you create the perfect six-second ad?
1. Keep it highly focused. Get to the heart of the ad right away.
2. Focus on the climax of the story. Show the six seconds where everything changes.
3. Think about narration in terms of visual frames, rather than words.
4. Understand your medium and tools. Hire a video production partner who has experience telling visual stories.
5. Utilize influencers. Showing a face people recognize can be a quick way to connect with viewers.
6. Spark curiosity. Pose a question and “walk away” to pique the curiosity of your viewer.
7. Be simple and creative. Focus on backdrop, emotion, and visuals. What can you show in the scene that will make an impact?
The Bottom Line
Short videos increase impressions, enhance engagement, and pique curiosity. Condensed narratives can be more impactful in a way that improves retention and recall of the brand.
Don’t be behind the curve. Start creating your six-second video campaign to stay competitive on YouTube, Google, Facebook, and major television networks in 2018.
Contact us now to get started and unlock the benefits of short-form advertising on your marketing metrics.
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