Why Short-Form Ads Work: Because They Always Have

As someone who has spent decades in media planning and buying, Richard Whitman’s recent article on Magna’s new study, "Does Every Second Count? Planning Ad Lengths Across Platforms" is interesting on several fronts.

While the Magna study looks exclusively at :06’s vs :15’s on mobile and PCs, ultimately recommending that media planners should adjust ad length to platform, length of programming and ad objective, those of us who work with clients on linear television have known for many years that running short-form TV ads in the form of 10 second spots is highly effective and efficient.  



Unfortunately, these ad units continue to be under-utilized in what, if planned and bought correctly, can be a strategic and efficient use of a client's resources, helping them build reach quickly, and more importantly, frequently saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

For example, Magna’s study finds that the :06 unit is less effective than the :15 on FEP (full-episode player), or long-form content. In our experience, with client after client, 10-second ads on linear television are highly effective in driving purchase decisions. In fact, they have led to up to 30% or more increases in sales versus a non-advertising period.

So, while we agree with Magna’s findings and Whitman’s reporting, it doesn’t surprise us. Short-form advertising on linear TV has been an effective and cost saving tool of smart advertisers for years and will continue to be even as content and channel distribution continue to expand on new platforms.

3 comments about "Why Short-Form Ads Work: Because They Always Have".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, January 4, 2021 at 8:04 a.m.

    Which leads me to ask, if "short form" commercials on "linear TV" have been effective cost savings tools  used by "smart" advertisers for years, why is it that the services that track the placement of commercials on national and local TV report that almost all are either "30s" or "15s"---like 94%---- of the remaining 5-6% most are "60s" or longer and almost none are "10s"

    ?I think that it's fine to promote short form messages for digital media---where they can be readily offered by time sellers and, maybe,  are more effective on a CPM basis. But, the only time that one saw even fair amounts of "10s" on "linear TV" was long, long ago---during the 1950s and early 1960s and almost exclusely on local stations---usually during their half hour station identification as opposed to in-program breaks. Cigarette advertisers were fond of such 10-second spots as  all they wanted to do was promote brand name recognition among the poor addicts being poisoned by their products---but very few brands with real selling propositions used them.

  2. PJ Lehrer from NYU, January 4, 2021 at 9:18 a.m.

    I found that many clients who insisted on cramming multiple messages into :30 second commericals could be convinced to focus on just one key message in their 15's.  Thus their 15's were more effective than their 30's.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, January 4, 2021 at 10 a.m.

    PJ, the problem about the gradual switch to "15s"---now almost half of all national spots---is that while a single, unified, messsage in a "15" may work---as you say--- the result when many advertisers do it is a substantial increase in the number of commercial messages per break---which often negates any benefit supposedly attained by a lower CPM. In other words, advertisers don't operate in a vacuum. Their messages rotate in breaks in the programs of many networks and channels and there are now so many messages per break---both "15s"and "30s" that viewers are absenting themselves or ignoring many of them.  The hoped for gain as indicated by a good performance relative to cost in an ad recall/ buying motivational test, is not the whole story. Anticipated results must be tempered by considering whether the commercial will capture enough viewers in a real world, ad cluttered, situation. 

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