Today’s culture is one that embraces instant information and longs for messages that are short, sweet, and to the point. Our smartphones and tablets are flooded with six-second Vines and disappearing Snapchats. Advertisers have adapted their messages to reach consumers despite their dwindling attention span. So what about the “Mad Men era” emotion filled 60-second spots? Have they vanished alongside the Walkman or will they make a comeback like scrunchies and jean jackets? Google partnered with Mondelez International and Droga5 to find out.
Google’s study consisted of three similar ads for Honey Maid. The ads all varied in length at 15 seconds, 30 seconds, and just over 2 minutes. These ads were run on YouTube’s TrueView skippable ad format. With TrueView, viewers can skip any ad after just five seconds. The ads featured the Gomez family in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month. First, let’s break down each ad and its intention.
The product first appears at the six-second mark and is present in 33% of the ad. In theory, the shorter length will encourage the viewers to stick it out for “only 10 more seconds” after the skip feature is activated.
Here the story has more depth. The viewer can better understand the family culture. In this format, the Honey Maid product is first shown at the 11-second mark and receives 30% of the screen time. For this length, the idea is to get the best of both worlds; the viewer sees a more in-depth story while only watching an ad for half a minute.
Perceptibly, this version gives the most depth into the story including family members speaking both English and Spanish. In contrast to the shorter ads, here the product is not shown until the 1:17 mark and is only filmed for 12 seconds which translates into just under 9% of the ad. With this method, the goal is to add richness into the story and produce an emotional connection.
While all three versions performed well, the 30-second spot had the highest VTR (view-through rate) which landed 30% higher than the 15-second spot. Both the longer spots also beat the 15-second spot when in terms of lifting brand favorability. However, if ad-recall and brand recognition are your main goals, the 15-second spot may be the way to go as it generates top-of-mind awareness.
With the TrueView format, ads are only charged if they are watched passed the 29-second mark or if the viewer interacts with the ad. So, unless marketers are solely driving brand recall, it only makes sense to go with the better performing, more interesting, and detailed ads.
After goals are set and ad length is determined, marketers are tasked with the challenge of creating an interesting and emotion provoking story while incorporating their brand/product in a non-disruptive way.
It seems that, like scrunchies and jean jackets, we can expect to see more comprehensive story telling ads exceeding a mere 15 seconds.