6-second TV ads command more attention per second than traditional spots

By Erica Sweeney

Originally published in Marketing Dive

Dive Brief:

  • Short-form, six-second ads on TV capture 8% to 11% more attention per second than longer ads, according to new research by the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) and TVision Insights provided to Marketing Dive. Short-form ads drove 6% of impressions, despite only accounting for 3% of ad placements.
  • Three-quarters of impressions came from the top 10 networks, which ran 45% of these shorter ads. Overall, 70 networks served short-form ads during a six-month period. About half of impressions were during primetime programming, even though just over one-third of short-form ads ran during that time slot.
  • Thirteen percent of short-form ads ran along with a long-form ad during the same program. Advertisers running short-form ads with long-form ads or during the same program saw a 10% lift in attention.

Dive Insight:

Marketers continue to see positive results as they experiment with extra-short video ads, which were popularized online, on platforms like YouTube and Snapchat, but only made the leap to TV around last year. While formats like six-second ads often perform well independently, pairing them with more traditional 15-, 30- or 60-second ad content can provide an additional boost, per the ARF and TVision Insights study.

This blend could open opportunities for storytelling and brand-building, with the short ad or bumper teasing the rest of the creative that's then fleshed out later in a longer-form spot. It might also address some of marketers' concerns that extra-short ads stifle creativity and narrative possibilities.

Growing interest in extra-short ads among advertisers and networks comes as TV watching habits and attention spans are changing. Viewers more frequently consume content in snippets, record shows or stream them online. A five-to-six-second ad might hit the sweet spot for reaching millennials, in particular, according to comScore.

ARF and TVision Insight attributed the success of short-form ads to strong pod position and structure, connecting to longer-form content, cutting through clutter and placement with premium content and primetime spots. Short-form ads also draw a larger share of attention per second from light TV viewers compared to heavy ones.

Though the short-form ads still make up a small share of TV ad placements, marketers will likely increase their investment in the format. The report's results signal that consumers prefer shorter ads regardless of platform. Marketers additionally value shorter-form ads because they can be easier to run across multiple platforms and re-purposed to fit a specific audience.

Yoplait, in a campaign run last year, created 32 different six-second ads to send retargeted messages to people who watched longer videos. One challenge for marketers experimenting with the format is creating a campaign that can make an impact in a short time frame. Research shows short-form ads might work better for immediately recognizable brands, which don't necessarily need to lay the groundwork of what they offer.

TV and CTV Attention Report
The TV and CTV Attention Report