Is Six-Seconds Enough To Tell Your Story?

“In early tests, Bumpers drove strong lift in upper-funnel metrics like recall, awareness and consideration,"


Last January, YouTube challenged the advertising and film creative community to develop a new format in visual storytelling at the Sundance Film Festival, to tell a brand story in 6 seconds. Yes, that’s even shorter than reading half of this paragraph. This is simply due to consumer’s attention span on mobile is fast and short thus pushing the bar even higher from the 15s and the 10s seconds. It actually makes sense when you think about it on how you consume content on your own mobile device.

Calling it Bumper Ads, it is unskippable snacked-size format designed specifically for mobile users on the go with super short attention span—literally refers to the millennial and older mobile-savvy users. “In early tests, Bumpers drove strong lift in upper-funnel metrics like recall, awareness and consideration,” the company wrote in a blog post from ads made for Audi Germany and Atlantic Records.

This Year, the Sundance challenge continues with a twist where agencies were tasked to recreate classic fairy tales from Cinderella to Little Red Riding Hood. “The results show what can happen when you take an age-old idea or an idea you already had and simply re-imagine it from scratch for this new format,” Tara Walpert Levy, VP of agency and media solutions at Google said.

Closer to home, in April 2017, McDonald’s Malaysia created a series of six mobile-optimised spots on its Ayam Goreng McD (that’s fried chicken) which apparently was reported to help achieved its highest sales month in history.

On the Facebook front, albeit its recent earth-shattering news on its News Feed algorithm changes which shook the entire content and publisher’s industry and made many of them very unhappy (Supervideo will write about this once the dust has settled). Video is still high on the social platform’s agenda and in his own words, Zuckerberg proclaimed “video and other public content have exploded on Facebook in the past couple of years”. Ad Age headlines “Facebook Gets Brands Ready for 6-Second Video Ads” on its post Jul 26, 2017 where “Facebook is working with some of its advertisers to develop video ads as short as 6 seconds”, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said and saw it’s ad revenue surged 47% from the quarter a year earlier, to nearly $9.2 billion largely due to strength in both video and mobile advertising.

Originally championed by Youtube and later embraced by other brands like Tropicana and Fox, as the list grows, six-second ads are becoming a well-accepted standard format in digital and mobile. It all boils down to the audience tolerating quick and snappy videos but not overwhelmed by them. According to a recent study by comScore, millennial only have 5-6 second attention span for ads to be effective. Our advertising on social network and mobile must change to reach them efficiently and 6 second is definitely the best bet now. Businesses should not ignore this crucial shift in audience consumption habit otherwise may be wasteful on their marketing budget and detrimental to their brands.

Google tested over 300 bumper campaigns in 2016 and discovered that 9 out of 10 six-second ads drove a significant lift in ad recall. Now that Google, Youtube and Facebook are on board this six-second format, it literally means the entire internet and social platform would follow suit, i.e Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and possibly even Messenger and Whatsapp.

So to answer the question, is six-seconds enough? My answer is yes and no. It would work great if your brand is already known and which represents your category well. Its weakness is also its strength. The short form does force the brand to be focused on the core by cutting out all the fats. I’ll call it the 6% body fat syndrome where the video is lean and mean. Well toned and targeted on its one-single-minded message and the advertiser can work out a complete series, each targeting at different a core audience. This strategy works great, especially for mobile generations. But it is not for every brand. I think it is a challenge but not impossible, to the audience if the YouTube classic fairy tales were a brand new story I have never heard of. It may create some buzz and curiosity but in the end, no one remembers you. The lesson of the day is, data may point to it working well but insights and understanding your consumers plays an even greater role to identify if it is even right for you.

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