In advertising as in content, the story is key. That has long been a rule for television advertising, where ads often have protagonists as well as beginnings, middles and ends.
In digital video -- particularly in short-form advertising under 15 seconds -- that has not necessarily been the case, even when the creative is based on TV ads.
New research conducted by the media platform Teads in conjunction with the facial coding company Realeyes looked specifically at one of the hottest new trends in video advertising -- six-second ads -- to determine what makes for a successful ad, and what falls flat with consumers.
Realeyes tracks facial movements to gauge emotional reactions, ultimately giving what the company calls an “EmotionAll” score of between one and 10. The companies tested 166 different ad creatives, from 75 brands.
The biggest takeaway from the research was that story still matters. Six-second ads that were able to tell a story in that short time scored a 4.1 one on the EmotionAll scale, compared to a 3.1 for ads that did not tell whole stories. Longer 30-second ads scored higher, averaging a 5.1, suggesting the short-form ads still have legwork to do when it comes to engaging consumers emotionally.
So what does work? For starters, having fresh creative, rather than reusing a longer ad.
When the study looked at 30-second ads that were turned into six-second ads, more than one-quarter of respondents said they didn’t understand the short version of the ad. More than half said it left them wanting more information.
In addition, simpler ads that only had one or two key messages worked better than six-second ads that had multiple messages. A call to action was also deemed important.
“With mobile now the dominant device in our lives, marketers know that 30-second TV spots will no longer cut it for engaging video ads on the small screen,” said Caroline Hugonenc, global vice president, research and insights for Teads, in a statement to Digital News Daily. “However, what this research reveals is that simply making an ad shorter won’t necessarily guarantee performance if the emotional connection is lost.”