When I first started in advertising, we were able to purchase television advertising in not only 15” increments but also in 5” and 10” increments. I have long been a fan of these shorter advertising durations because of the effective frequency that they can generate because I firmly believe that frequency is essential for advertising to be effective.
Most of my clients will also tell you that I have most likely informed them at least once that it is better to tell 20% of their target market 10 times to ‘buy’ than 80% of the market once. I have tried many times to bring back the use of smaller duration advertisements since their demise to no avail. Now I have recent research to prove that shorter duration advertisements work.
Short Duration Ad Effectiveness
Out of the USA, Phoenix MI conducted a study of 100 short form TV ads on 38,000 US adults. Using Phoenix’s Brand Effect model, they tested ad memorability in a panellists’ natural environment 24 hours after they were exposed to the ad, in order to understand the ad resonance and impact.
Phoenix then compared the results of short form advertisements (under 15” in duration) to historical norms of longer formats in their Brand Effect database. From that they analysed Ad Memorability (% of consumers able to remember the content) and Brand Linkage (% of ad aware consumers able to name the advertised brand). When combined, these scores created a Brand Memorability metric (% of ad viewers that remember both the advertising’s content and advertised brand).
So, how did short form ads perform?
For Ad Memorability, 39% of respondents were able to remember the short duration 10” ads they were exposed to, compared to 42% for 15 second ads and 43% for 30 second ads.
If a brand is just looking to generate memorable content and increase memorability of the content in an ad, then short form ads may not be the way forward, at least until they become more mainstream.
However, advertising is not about a consumer just being able to remember the content of their ad, it is also about remembering the brand and driving sales. Short form ads perform just as strongly when it comes to consumers’ ability to remember the brand in an ad, achieving a score of 56% (on par with 30 second ads and only 1% down from 15 second ads which perform highest at 57%). Interestingly, 60 second ads were the worst performing format for brand linkage. I was excited by this because I am sceptical about the effectiveness of most 60” advertising.
Brand linkage is a very important factor for brands. If customers are unable to remember the name of your brand, then ultimately the creative and media spend is wasted. For Brand Memorability, the percentage of viewers that remembered both the ad’s content and the advertised brand, short form ads continue to perform very well. 15 second and 30 second ads are the best performing formats, scoring 24% (putting to rest the debate that 15 seconds are not long enough to generate Brand Memorability). Short form ads performed almost as well, scoring 22% (the same score as 60 second ads).
Simple is best
Often clients make the mistake of including too much information into an advertisement. I was trained from the start that there are three simple steps to advertising: 1. tell the people what the market gap/problem is, 2. show them the solution and 3. tell them where to buy. It works from everything from food through to lending. If you try to get too clever it goes over most potential customers’ heads.
Phoenix also found that simple is best. When comparing the common characteristics of the top and bottom performing ads, the same characteristics of what makes an effective 15 or 30 second ad are applicable to short form ads as well. Phoenix found that it’s important to exclude information overload and ensure advertising content is simple and focused (a simple plot, simple message and a singular setting and focus).
Five second world
The learning we have from organisations like Phoenix is even more important now that video has now moved into the digital (or online) advertising arena. Why? Potential customer attention levels are much lower and the need for repetition or effective frequency is more important then ever. However, the requirement to exclude information overload, frenetic visuals and heavy text-based content from advertising is even more important.
What hasn't changed over time is that no matter the medium, short form advertising needs to be the sharpest and most direct form of advertising, placed at high frequency, to be the most effective.