If you’re one of those people who wonder why a brand would waste money on a five-second commercial, a new study from YuMe and IPG Media Lab has some important, equivocal news for you:
Micro-ads really don’t seem to work all that well, at least not compared to “longer” messages, 15-seconds or more. They work best on smartphones, where their brevity is at least enhanced by the fact the ad takes up the whole screen.
Here’s how the study worked. YuMe and IPG sampled nearly 10,000 consumers across PC, smartphone and tablet devices, and tested ads for five brands: Charles Schwab, Hotwire, Jeep, Miller Lite and TV Land. Consumers were driven to content that matched their real-life consumption behaviors. Prior to the content, consumers were randomly shown a single pre-roll ad of 5, 10, 15, 30, or 45+ seconds.
The conclusions won’t knock you out of your chair, I do’t think, but they’re interesting. Short messages can drive home a key message and convey a brand image, but, this study says, if you want to persuade me to do something, I’ll need a full 15 seconds or more. Those micro ads have zero ability to do that, regardless of where you see them.
Millennials, who have short attention spans toward most things that are long, are a prime market for micro ads. “Having grown up with short form content, millennials respond best to micro ads, and also tend to see them as higher quality and more enjoyable than older consumers do,” a summary of the YuMe/IPG study notes. (I don’t doubt that conclusion, but it makes me wonder: Is there any research out there that measures how many millennials are offended by the automatic conclusion they all prefer short-attention span fare?)
A longer ad more uniformly drives purchase intent whether the ads is seen on a PC, tablet or smartphone. A short ad preceding short content stands a reasonably good chance of being remembered (up to 35% of the test subjects watching a short 1-2 minute video could recall the ad that came before). A short ad before longer content (3.5-5.5 minutes) was recalled far less often. The moral: Short ads for short content, longer ads for longer content.
Young people believe the ad quality of micro-ads is much higher than older viewers and they enjoy them more than older viewers. Though as for enjoyment, neither millennials more non-millennials are terribly excited either way.
Not by an overwhelming percentage, but surprising to me nonetheless, is that ads seen while consumers are on the go--mobile users being mobile--have a better rate of recall than ads seen at home.
As a bottom line, though, 15 seconds seems to be the amount of time needed to get the old Cranial Persuade-O-Meter working, and it just goes up, a lot, from there. A 30-second message for a new brand, according to the YuMe/IPG charts, gets about a 30% brand favorability rating; a 5 or 10 second ad for a new brand doesn’t move the needle a bit for a new brand or an established one.
As a kind of bottom line YuMe and IPG offered testers several ad-viewing options. People preferred the ability to skip ads, even if that meant they’d be served more ads. On the upside, that means people want to be in charge; on the down side that means a lot of advertisers really have no chance.