Fox Launches First :06 Units: Duracell, Mars First Brands To Use Short-Form Commercials

The six-second commercial -- which has become a standard for many digital video environments, especially pre-roll -- is coming to broadcast TV. Fox Networks Group this morning said it will launch the first six-second ads on broadcast TV during its August 13 prime-time coverage of “Teen Choice 2017.”

Fox said Duracell and Mars will be among the first advertisers utilizing the new video ad units on TV and that they would run in real-time broadcasts as well as in its on-demand streams.

While short-form ad units on broadcast TV are not unprecedented, they have historically been relegated to so-called ID spots or promotional consideration announcements.

The minimum industry standard broadcast TV commercial length has historically been 15 seconds, and there have been controversial industry debates every time the broadcast industry has shifted to shorter-form units, usually focusing on what the proportionate or relative effectiveness of shorter-form ads is relative to longer-duration spots.

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Fox, which previously discussed plans to introduce :06 units, said the ad format was originally developed by YouTube, and that the broadcast versions initially will be part of “shorter ad pods within the telecast that also include six-second promos for Fox programming.”

Fox described the rollout as “testing” to “gather insights into its role within a broader marketing mix that also includes traditional spots.”

The broadcaster added that it intentionally is introducing them during “Teen Choice,” because it believes younger audiences are drivers of new media consumption and are “generally receptive to shorter ad formats.”

Fox said it will also reduce the overall number of commercial breaks in the telecast as part of its push to improve the viewer experience across all its platforms.

Suzanne Sullivan, executive vice president of entertainment sales at Fox Networks Group, said: “We’re excited to work with Duracell and other brands to boost the impact and awareness of their campaigns through a truly innovative mix of ad formats on FOX.

“While brands have been experimenting with 140 characters for quite some time, now we are introducing a way to do so with the sound, motion and full-screen experience of broadcast television,” stated Sullivan.

10 comments about "Fox Launches First :06 Units: Duracell, Mars First Brands To Use Short-Form Commercials".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics, August 1, 2017 at 10:36 a.m.

    Joe, I hope that this "testing" includes a good deal of research on the recall and presuasiveness of these shorter ad units relative to "15s" and "30"s used by the same brands. Also important is research on how the six-second ads might be scheduled in regular commercial breaks----like is there a limit to the number of distinctively different ad messages that viewers will tolerate in a break? If it develops that the number of six-second ads must be severely limited in a standard break and they cost, say , one fifth of a 30-second ad's CPM, it would seem that the revenue potential of the very short ads to the networks is limited. On the other hand, if it can be proven that an advertiser who really has something a bit more complex than "Hi" to say can tell a story  in six seconds about 70% as effectively  as in a 15-second message, at half or less of the cost, wont the sellers be afraid---as they were when stand- alone 30s first appeared, that advertisers would substitute the shorter units for the more expensive longer ones and cut spending? Questions, questions?

  2. Harold Morgenstern from Simulmedia, August 1, 2017 at 3:53 p.m.

    I applaud Fox for experimenting with the six second creative. Data has shown that engagement with commercials especially within a younger demographic performs better than a :15 or :30. After all, the younger generation has become accustomed to watching content with little or no commercial interruption at all. Maintaing the same number of commercials within the pod but running :06 vs a :15 or:30 will be a key learning. 
    Targeting and engagement with the consumer is exactly what content providers should be focused on. Its all one step closer to increasing engagement which should eventually lead to better sales and marketsahre for the advertisers.  Congratulations for Fox for taking this leadership position.  Without experiementation our journey never moves forward. 

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 1, 2017 at 4:21 p.m.

    Harold, let's say that you can demonstrate that a young adult is more likely to be persuaded to buy the advertised product or service after viewing a six-second commercial than a 15- or 30-second message from the same advertiser---though I doubt that will be proven to be true. Actually, you are probably assuming that the young adult---all of them---will mentally tune out any ad longer than a few seconds, which is, I mwould guess, the basis of your point.

    The problems with the notion of using six-second commercials as TV's basic message length while keeping the number of ads the same in each break is first, that the seller would have to greatly increase the number of breaks in every program to have a chance to garner the same ad revenue as before and second, that only 18-34s are watching.In the case of"linear TV", the plain fact is that 75% or more of the adult audience is composed of people over the age of 35, who do, indeed, have value---collectively far more value ---than the 18-34s----for most advertisers. Are such 35+ consumers to be targeted with many more breaks and mostly six-second commercials when they will not only tolerate longer messages but also be more likely to be swayed by them?

    Of course, it might be argued that advertisers on "linear TV" should not care about middle aged or older adults but focus entirely on the younger set. It may also be argued that as six second commercials are more effective than longer ones with 18-34s that the sellers can charge premium CPMs for them, thereby recouping ad dollars lost by dropping longer units. But even if these two scenarios were true, if six second ads were,say, 30% more effective with 18-34s than 30-second ads, what is gained if the sellers charge 50% or higher CPMs for the use of shorter ads? Or can we assume that they simply wont do that?

    I think that short commercials can function as reminders for TV/video ad campaigns whose basic sales points are made by longer ad units. I also believe that certain brands with very little to say----which does not preclude ad impact----can find six-second messages effective, especially in digital venues where one can really single out a mostly late teen and 18-34 audience. But as an across-the-board practice for all or most of "linear TV" as well as all or most digital video buys, I think that we going to be disappointed by what the testing shows----if it is done objectively, that is.

  4. Harold Morgenstern from Simulmedia replied, August 1, 2017 at 6:13 p.m.

    Ed, certainly appreciate the response and certainly respect your opinion. I was clearly applauding Fox for the experimentation. Regardless if the test is successful or a failure there will be valuable learnings from the experiment.  Sometimes you have to fail first to find success. Maybe the answer is not :06 but :10 we will never know until someone takes the risk and experiments. I'm not here to debate Foxs financials for the experimentation. I will suspect the the Teen Choice  Awards will reach a younger demographic.  If the results are disappointing so be it. At least there is better learning out there.  

  5. John Grono from GAP Research, August 1, 2017 at 7:53 p.m.

    Ed, when I moved agency-side in the mid '90s one of the first questions I was asked was the relatibe effectiveness of a :30 versus a :15.   Having no budget to do empirical testing I had to rely on international desk research and assume that viewer behaviour around the world is relatively homogenous.

    While I can't put my hands on the research (it happens when you move houses) I am pretty certain that a :15 was 77% of a :30 (probably around recall or maybe message take-out).   Of course that made a :15 relatively good value (charged at 60% of a :30 here in Australia).   From memory a :60 was about 110% of a :30 - but don't quote me on that.

    We did quite a lot of sales-based econometric modelling with TV-ad duration as an input variable (i.e. Total TV GRPs, :30 GRPs, and :15 GRPs) and found that ad duration was not a significant variable - that is, weight was more important that duration (this was in the 2000s).

    Sure things have changed, but I still think a :06 would work.   In fact our agency developed 'top' and 'tail' :10 second bumpers for sports broadcasts - they worked a treat!    The key was to simplify the message - short and sharp.

    This resonates with the work that Robert Heath has done in the UK on Low Involvement Processing Theory and how human memory works.   Basically, the human brain is capable of recalling memories (and brands) from very short or small exposures (e.g. a jingle, a logo, an image and even a colour) once they have been exposed to the 'full' ad several times - the old 'three-times effectiveness threshold'.

    So I can see how :06 could work as a stage 2 or 3 of a TV campaign - and probably stage 1 of a mobile campaign ... if the creative is designed for the shorter duration.

    But as you correctly point out with linear TV this would magnify the clutter by 3x to 6x which would defeat the purpose.   I think TV's role will be to 'build the brand' (talking video only here) and mobile's role will be to 'reinforce and remind the brand'.

  6. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 2, 2017 at 8:01 a.m.

    John, the experience in the U.S. with shorter and shorter TV commercials has been that cutting the time in half----as with a "30" versus a "60" or a "15" versus a "30" ----is that you get about 70% of the recall value. So, at half the time cost, this seems like a good deal---at first. However, when the ad impact researchers dug deeper, exploring the motivating effects, they frequently found that the shorter units---especially the "15s" ----were considerably less persuasive. You may recall around twenty years ago that with the advent of stand alone "15s" there were many predictions that the "30" was dead and that we would soon see even shorter commercials----like 5-seconds---- being the standard. Aside from the fact that shorter messages would mean a tremendous rise in ad clutter---the viewer being bombarded with 10-15 ads per break as opposed th 6-7----what many advertisers learned was that even if they created unique "15s", rather than just editing down "30s", they could not rely exclusively on "15s". So the universal adoption of "15s", to be followed by "5s", as was predicted by the many theorists of the time never happened. I suspect that the same will apply to 6-second ads. For some advertisers, they may work well; for others they may serve only as supportive "reminders; for many, they may not be effective at all. And, as I noted earlier, how do you schedule 6-second messages in breaks which also feature "15s" and "30s"?Also, how do you price them?

  7. John Grono from GAP Research, August 2, 2017 at 8:41 a.m.

    Thanks Ed.   I hadn't seen any of the 'persuasion' data, so the points you make and the conclusions you draw I fully concur with.   I can't see horter working on linear TV - but the jury is out on mobile devices.   I think they will go with smaller breaks (one ad?) but maybe much higher frequency.

  8. Darrin Stephens from McMann & Tate, August 3, 2017 at 9 a.m.

    The Big 3 networks accepted :10s back in the 80s. They ran as part of one minute newsbreaks which aired typically at 8:58pm.

  9. Joe Mandese from MediaPost, August 3, 2017 at 9:08 a.m.

    @ "Darrin Stephens" - And Max Headroom was running one-second blipverts back then too. In all seriousness, there has been experimentation and testing on a variety of short-form units, even one-second ones: (Masterlock, 1998), (GE, 2006), (Miller Brewing, 2009). IDs and promotional consideration announcements, too. Difference here is Fox is testing :06 as a new standard unit of sale. And it's one that's already a standard in digital pre-roll, etc.

  10. Steven B Jones from LogoBar, August 10, 2017 at 3:56 p.m.


    First of all, I appreciate that Fox is in tune with what audiences want...less intrusive advertising. I do think that combination of the shorter ad unit in addition to fewer ad breaks is a recipe for a more positive experience...and not just for millennials (their complaints are just more prevalent via social media).


    With that said, are these 0:06sec units enough? My expectation is that only folks in advertising and the percentage of audience watching live MAY end up noticing the difference. Otherwise, I expect that this change will go unnoticed and underappreciated as the remaining balance will simply skip/ffwd/ignore the ad break just like they normally do. Will they notice that the ad break was shorter? While that's possible...will it be enough for the audience to care to rewind and actually experience the 0:06 spot? No.


    I expect the best way to get the highest number of our eyeballs to watch spots is to shorten the ad breaks to a single 0:06 spot…arguably it would not be worth the effort to ffwd through. Unfortunately, that would result in a heck of a lot more ad breaks and you’ve upset your audience…who would like this less than what we experience now.


    Where does this land us…the data stemming from tests and research will figure out the ideal balance. I do hope they look beyond just the millennials response though! A better solution is out there though, because whether a spot is 0:06 or 0:30 it is still an intrusive form of advertising that is in the way of the consumer viewing/consuming the content. I do have/know of a better solution...and would love to know what you think!

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