Bill Gates and 6-Second Video Ads
It’s estimated that Bill Gates makes $600 in 6 seconds. That’s a lot of dough, but the time is more important. As marketers, we are always interested in time: How long did they spend on our site, how long did they watch the video, can we keep the Facebook video under 2 minutes, can we buy 30 seconds in the Super Bowl?
Since we have veered from the days of 30 seconds as the God-given order for TV commercial length, we have toyed with 15 seconds, 7 seconds and now 6 seconds. Playing with shorter and shorter video lengths stems from our shortening attention spans. A new study from Snapchat, Magna and IPG Media Lab titled, “Does Every Second Count: Planning Ad Lengths Across Platforms,” shows that “old truths about the effectiveness of video ad length performance are no longer accurate.”
The key to making a great 6-second video is to think of it as a new medium and not as a cut-down version of a 30’s creative. It needs fresh, albeit short, thinking about what you learn in consuming the equivalent of a sample or morsel of taste.
According to a press release about the research, when controlled for brand, the 6-second and 15-second ads saw identical lifts in brand preference and purchase intent. They also found that the device and age did not make a difference in brand lift. On video aggregators, “where skipping is the norm, :06 ads were appreciated by consumers and generally more effective.”
When I worked at the TV station, we utilized the “station IDs” every half-hour to promote shows, wish mothers Happy Mother’s Day and other quick information. The ads always received a strong anecdotal recall from people I met, mostly because of the frequency (they were on every 30 minutes). For most stations, the IDs were a throwaway required by the FCC, but the 4-second ad space could deliver a punch. Think of other media: Billboards rarely get more than 2 to 4 seconds of viewership — any longer and you would have an accident.
So what can we take away from this? Shorter isn’t better than longer videos, but shorter videos need to be part of your video assets. It’s another communication tool not to be scoffed at, but used for optimized brand lift. And in the time it took you to finish reading this blog post, Mr. Gates put another $6,000 in his pocket.
Mark Mathis III is chief creative & strategy officer, partner and cofounder of AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising.