Is six seconds enough?

in Online Advertising

Six seconds. Goes by quickly…but a lot can happen in that short amount of time.

six second advertising

This article on AdWeek by Chris Heine has done the rounds in the agency and debate has been interesting. The title is…

“Why Brands and Agencies Are Preparing for the Era of 6-Second Ads”

At first, I had to check the date of the article…are we in 2015? The last time there was a discussion over six-second clips was when Vine bounded onto the scene. Twitter’s ill-fated short clip video platform (which died in 2016) was built to help people capture casual moments in their lives and share them with friends. It wasn’t about six-second ads…but it demonstrated that six seconds is a creative challenge…one that can inspire. ‘Vine Creators’ who became adept at creating fantastic short video clips (check out this one of Big Ben) and we saw a whole host of pretty amazing short clip videos being created.

Vine didn’t last, but maybe the six-second format will?

AdWeek say that Google, Fox and a whole host of advertisers are now wanting to take sex-second videos and use them for advertising.

“…you sort of have to understand your subject matter, your medium, your production tools so much more intimately in order to make use of six seconds in an effective way. I think it’s one of the most important ad formats—if not the most important ad format—that we are going to see more of.” — Maud Deitch (Instagram, ex-Mother New York creative) on AdWeek

But, is it really a viable ad format? Or are we falling into a trap of thinking all content has to be “snackable content” for the ADHD-styled Millennial generation? Those time-poor young people only deign to give a piece of content a few seconds before moving on, right?

The opposite argument would say that a fantastic piece of creative would hold your attention…it would grab you and hold you in it’s embrace. If it was good enough, you’d watch 15 seconds, 30 seconds….minutes. Whilst I think this can be true, the real world is a noisy place full of content clutter. It’s not just the youngsters that have a short attention span, most of us do these days.

I think there’s a fair few creatives laughing and saying you can never get across what you need to in just six small seconds…but I think that is missing the point. I don’t think you need get across everything in just this one ad format, it’s how you use it to boost the rest of your content that I find really interesting….

“…if we are trying to reach someone for the first time, the shorter the better. If we are retargeting, we can play a 15 or a 30. Part of the theory there is that if somebody hasn’t heard of you, they are not going to give you the time of day.” — Jake Malanoski (Customer Acquisition Director for meals service Green Chef) on AdWeek

That makes total sense to me. It’s all about working out where in the journey you place this kind of ad. What is the experience you’re trying to give your potential consumer? What frequency is right for your ads/target audience…and can one or two six-second ads play a role at the start in grabbing attention, generating recall and making them more likely to watch a longer piece of content later?

“while bumpers ads are short on time, they’re long on impact. We tested over 300 bumper campaigns this year and found that 9 out of 10 drove a significant lift in ad recall.” — Google

(‘significant’ is defined as an average bump of 9%, according to an in-house meta-analysis performed last year by Google…and, as always, treat non-independent studies with the usual pinch of salt)

“Over 9 in 10 drove ad recall globally, with an average lift of over 30%.” — Google

As with all ‘new’ (or recycled) ideas and formats, I’m sure the six-second ad will continue to be talked about as the new Holy Grail (Gartner’s Hype Cycle – Peak of Inflated Expectations….right?). It’s not the be-all and end-all…but I do think it can have a place if planned well.