Micro-Video: Catering To On-the-Go Consumers

When DVRs came on the scene, many speculated that the 30-second TV ad spot was dead.   Although TV is now fighting various non-traditional video platforms for audience, the 30-second video clip is still very much alive and valid as a branding tool.  I wholeheartedly believe that 30 seconds can be a perfect amount of time to make a lasting impression with your branded message -- just not in all viewing environments.

There seems to be a stronger force at work.  With the evolution of new video platforms such as Vine and Instagram, the ability to skip an ad after five seconds on YouTube, and the proliferation of smart mobile devices, consumers (including myself) are beginning to see even 15 seconds as too long, let alone 30 seconds.  Ad effectiveness studies over the past five years -- such as the one commissioned by AOL in 2012 -- show that the 30-second spot is most effective when applied against shorter-form (less than 10 minutes) content.

So what do you do if you’re not hitting the sweet spot for the effective 30-second ad?  There is a huge opportunity for marketers and publishers to embrace micro-video ads, particularly when the core content message is whittled down to one minute or less.  Whether it’s the 6-second spot on Vine or the 15-second spot on Instagram, marketers are being challenged to create more concise messages to engage consumers, especially via mobile or when they are on-the-go.  

Our company has found that six seconds is probably the shortest timeframe that can be simultaneously coherent: too quick to click out of, with high impact. 

The effectiveness of shorter ad spots is still being assessed, but a recent ad study in the U.K. found that 10-second ads were twice as effective as 30-second ads for entertainment.  Is a shorter message stronger?  Is there less time to tune out?  Probably both -- and the reality is that as a society we are becoming more ADD.

The facts are that more and more platforms are catering to micro-video.  The average user session on mobile devices is much shorter than on desktop, yet marketers often use the exact same length of creative, instead of catering to the shorter user session time.   From a publisher perspective, it is important to match the length of content to the platform, and the length of the ad spot should follow suit.  For example, ideally a 30-second piece of content shouldn’t have a 30-second ad message in front of it -- 15 seconds or less of pre-roll fits better.  A five-minute piece of content, however, is still a great place for a 30-second marketing message to live.

If you are scratching your head, wondering how to get an effective marketing message into fewer than 30 seconds, here are a few tips:

  • Keep it simple and use audio and captions/hashtags to your advantage. Remember the pushback when Twitter made us stick to 140 characters or less?  Now people do it naturally.
  • Don’t skimp on planning your short-form video. Even short-form video benefits from professionally shot, high-quality video with proper lighting and legible audio. The upside of short-form is that high-quality video doesn’t require huge production budgets.
  • Remember that context matters.  If a consumer is accessing content while standing in line, waiting for a friend, or in a moment of downtime, the entire session can be a minute or two.  Keep the content, and the corresponding ads, bite-sized and snackable, and you can have a win.

I strongly encourage marketers and publishers to embrace the changes happening in both consumer behavior and new video platforms.  The impetus is on all of us to be able to develop shorter-form marketing messages and content to fit the viewing environments of today’s on-the-go consumers.

1 comment about "Micro-Video: Catering To On-the-Go Consumers".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, September 16, 2014 at 2:33 p.m.

    Amen. This is the best piece I've read on MediaPost in quite a while.

Next story loading loading..