I’d be in trouble if I just had your attention for 6 seconds. In fact that’s only enough time to read these two sentences! So why is video advertising getting shorter and shorter? Attention spans are decreasing, now lower than goldfish according to Microsoft. Younger audiences are consuming short form, bitesize video content on their phones. The impact of this has been validated by comScore indicating ads of 5 – 6 seconds are long enough for Millennials. Facebook, YouTube and more recently Fox have put their weight behind the 6 second format. And of course Snapchat – the spiritual home of Millennials – has built itself on short form ads & content.
So where does that leave creativity and storytelling? The good news is that short story telling isn’t new. The one sentence, 6 word story: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn”, has been widely credited to Ernest Hemingway, from 100 years ago! Furthermore, if a picture tells a thousand words then arguably a 6 second video is plenty of space to tell a compelling story?
Unsurprisingly both Facebook and YouTube have studies indicating compelling results. We’ve long said TVCs shouldn’t be shoved online so this move should make brands more aware of the need to tailor their stories to their audience and their changing consumption patterns. This is essentially an attempt to combat ad avoidance and with YouTube culling the 30” non-skippable format by the end of the year there will be fewer places to push the more traditional length video.
But are there lessons to be learned from another format that promises big with little time commitment? We’re justifiably sceptical of the 8 minute abs model with the promise of huge transformation in little time. However it’s not the low intensity burst that makes the difference it’s the frequency of use that gives results. Shifting this logic back to 6 second ads: if higher frequency is the answer then perhaps creativity is key after all. There is huge opportunity to bring storytelling back to the video format through sequencing. Building intrigue and anticipation rather than shoehorning your entire brand story into a short spot. Like the highly successful Nescafe serial of the 80s.
Let’s not let the video format kill creativity – let’s adapt to the environment in which these brand stories are being told.