Why do we cling to the 30-second television commercial norm?
While some advertisers are using 15-second spots and others are creating 30-minute long-form/infomercials, the vast majority of advertisers continue to use the traditional-length commercial with inexplicable determination.
It’s inexplicable because 30 seconds no longer provides advertisers with sufficient time to achieve their objectives. More specifically, here are three factors that are making longer-length commercials necessary:
Given these factors, why haven’t more advertisers embraced one and two-minute commercials? Part of the problem is the misconception that viewers will be annoyed by the additional seconds; that their tolerance for commercials ends at 30 seconds. As any television direct-response professional knows, this is nonsense. Response rates are better with longer-length commercials than shorter ones. People are intolerant of bad advertising, not long advertising.
Part of the problem, too, is the misguided belief that shorter is better. According to a recent Nielsen report, the number of 15-second spots increased by 80% from 2008 to 2012. Last year, Dunkin Donuts ran 5-second spots on ESPN’s pre-Super Bowl show. No doubt, companies attempting to reach the allegedly shorter-attention span millennials believe this is an effective strategy.
Maybe it is, at least for certain advertisers in certain situations. I’m not suggesting that all spots should be longer. I am proposing that longer options should be considered through testing. Try different lengths in increments of 30 seconds and use analytics to determine what works best. Sometimes, a mix of different lengths is optimal, depending on stations and markets; sometimes, one particular increment is far superior to the others.
If you need further motivation, take a look at some 30-second spots currently airing. Some of them are so jammed full of URLs, special offers and product information that it’s difficult to imagine how anyone is absorbing much of the message—or responding in the way that advertisers want.
It’s time for advertisers to regain their confidence in what they have to say and sell. If the spot is solid creatively and the media buy is on target, viewers will be more than willing to spend a little extra time watching—and perhaps a lot more money buying.