Rubber Baby YouTube Bumpers!

When was the last time you thought about bumpers? Car bumpers, bumper cars, bumper boats, rubber baby buggy bumpers? Been a while? Well, there’s another bumper in town, and marketers have noticed.

Bumper ads: 6-second, unskippable online videos that create a bumper between you and your next cat video fix. As a stand-alone ad, unskippable format poses an interesting shift from the challenges of skippable pre-roll ads, in terms of what marketers need to accomplish in five or six seconds. Skippable videos must engage viewers enough in the first five seconds to want to see the entire ad. Stand-alone Bumper videos, on the other hand, challenge advertisers to engage and motivate viewers within six seconds.

In either format, immediately generating strong emotion is critical to engage viewers. But how can Bumper ads go beyond engagement to communicate a motivating message tied to a brand?

1. Know your audience, and give them what they want.



YouTube’s robust targeting capabilities allow you to reach very specific audiences. Delivering a focused message about a product to an audience pre-disposed to like it immediately generates strong positive emotion. Targeting coffee-lovers? Show them coffee. Selling first-aid supplies? Target daredevil skateboarders. Better yet, target their moms!

This Bumper ad from Atlantic records promoting Rudimental’s second album lets the music do the talking. Targeted to Ed Sheeran fans, Atlantic is moments away from closing the sale on iTunes. But, it wouldn’t have the same effect if it were targeted to Metallica fans. 

2. Engage the right memory system.

Memory is not one big repository for all that you know. It’s divided into three systems. Delivering your message in a way that triggers the right kind of memory system for your product can drive motivation in a short amount of time. 

The semantic memory system is the rational, verbal part of the brain. It’s where you store, for example, everything you remember from high school Spanish: “¡Hola!” “¿Cómo estás?” “Otra cerveza por favor.” Engage this system when a rational message drives a behavioral shift, such as delivering pricing and timing information to encourage people to take advantage of a limited time offer.

The episodic memory system stores personal, autobiographical memories. Like the laughs you shared with your high school BFF when you started looking up Spanish swear words. Target this system when emotional storytelling drives motivation. A Hallmark ad pulling your heartstrings so you’ll buy and send that Mother’s Day card engages this system.

The procedural memory system stores physical sensations. Like how much it hurt when you were laughing so hard with your high school BFF that Diet Coke came shooting out of your nose. Evoking physical sensations to drive motivation, such as showing the sensation of biting into a York Peppermint Patty, is one way to engage this system.

In this example, McDonald’s effectively engages the procedural system by evoking the mouth-watering sensation of tasting an Egg McMuffin. A Bumper like this is likely to drive viewers to their restaurants.

On the other hand, the stylistic filming of this McDonald’s video takes food imagery out of the procedural system (“I can almost taste how delicious that is”) and places it in the semantic system (“Here’s a list of ingredients in the Big Mac”). The now rational nature of the information is more likely to start conversation than to get taste buds craving two all-beef patties.

3. Give the brand a pivotal role.

To brand, or not to brand? That is the question. Or, rather, that was the question with the threat of skips looming under the mouse. But in the world of the Bumper… definitely brand. Question answered. Mic drop. 

With a 6-second format, if viewers blink, they actually can miss it. So it’s important not only to show your brand, but also to give your brand a pivotal role in the brief Bumper story.

Dunkin Donuts makes their coffee the agent of joy in this Halloween Vine.

Here, Pepsi goes a step further and uses its own emoji bottles as the main characters in this 5-second video.

Making the most of every second will go a long way in this brave, new Bumper world.

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