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One-Minute MarketerBill Gates and 6-Second Video Ads

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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 a 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 must 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 the chief creative & strategy officer, partner and co-founder of AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising.

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Mark wrote his first direct-mail fundraising letter in 1981 for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. The effort raised a few million dollars in undiscovered wills and legacy gifts. From that day forward Mark discovered a love of the big idea that moves the needle. After 12 years at KWWL, Mark became a business owner as a co-founder of ME&V — rebranded as AMPERAGE in 2015. After 25 years of leading creative teams in video production, graphic design, PR, writing and web development, Mark transitioned out of ownership in 2021. Today he serves in an employee role as special projects consultant. He is creatively ambidextrous — son of an artist and engineer — and famous for distilling complex ideas down to a few words and a few visuals. Mark is a writer. When he found that many nonprofits struggled with complex branding puzzles, he wrote the book, “NonProfit-NonMarketing .” He also wrote a novel called “Reenactment.” Mark is an active blogger OneMinuteMarketer® with nearly 1,000 readers each week on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. One of his most popular YouTube videos is on “How to Look Good on Zoom.” One of Mark’s fondest business memories was being named to INC 500 two times and attending the INC 500 conference with other winners. Mark is considered by some a Civil War expert (and that explains his novel). Mark also served as an adjunct professor in the business and in the communications departments at Wartburg College. Mark is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently vice president of the University of Iowa Journalism and Mass Communications Advisory Board. Mark is married to state Sen. Liz Mathis, and the two love to travel, even when it means being trapped by a volcano in the Czech Republic for three weeks.