6 seconds vs. long-form ads: Which is better?

19 Jun

stopwatchThanks to two new reports with highly divergent findings, marketers may be scratching their head as they consider the length of video spots they’ll be buying in upcoming quarters.

The first report claims that marketers are finding 6-second pre-roll ads are the most effective video form. These ad units, of course, are mostly found on Facebook, Snapchat, and YouTube where the ads serve as bumpers to whatever content the user wants to view. The creative in these mini-messaging vehicles, of course, is as good as any 15 or 30-second spot you might see. Here are a few examples in case you’re not familiar with the format:

Many marketers are turning to ads this length, given that the human attention span is now lower than that of a goldfish. Mostly, these ads are a response to the fact that longer, non-skippable ads create a terrible user experience, according to Google, which stopped using 30-second unskippable ads earlier this year. That may be the case, but whether the 6-second spot is effective is still questionable. Keep in mind that this report is what marketers say they believe is effective; what’s considered effective largely depends on what you’re measuring. In online video, users watching to completion is a widely-used metric. Thus, 6-second videos tend to have much higher completion rates than longer videos (duh).

The second report, on the other hand, claims that “smartphone users are more likely to spend time engaging with long-form video compared to 6-second ads.” Specifically, the study looked at views and engagement of native video content on premium publisher mobile platforms. Unlike the first report, this report appears to be based in more concrete metrics, specifically 30 million infeed video views run across the ADYOULIKE platform in the first 4 months of 2018 (January – April 2018). Think videos with premium placements on high-traffic media websites like Good Housekeeping, the Huffington Post, and Reuters.

So, which report is right? While we’re partial to studies that rely on measurable metrics vs. what people say, here at Capital Media we think they’re both right. It all really comes down to what works best for a brand and the customers they want to attract. Many marketers who want to appeal to a wider range of market segments may actually find both types of ads useful.

The truth is that the two ad units are not mutually exclusive; indeed, a 6-second ad could easily be an extension of a longer unit running on other platforms. As we always recommend, it’s best to experiment with lengths and placements, figure out what works best, and then find ways to amplify that.

If you need help figuring out what works best for your brand, contact us. We’re happy to analyze your budget and audiences, and develop a plan that best works to reach them.

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