Micro-Format Ads are Pitched as Antidotes to Attention Deficit. Are They?
December 14, 2018
We get it. Advertising is hard. Consumers are on pins and needles while binging the lastest season of The Handmaid’s Tale and we are interrupting it to tell them they should really consider switching laundry detergent. As they gleefuly wait for the ‘skip ad’ button to appear, it becomes clear that advertising has to be good and it has to be fast.
After the death of Vine and the mad rush to 3-second ads, we are now seeing a flurry of renewed pitches for 6-second ads. Many marketers see it as a new shiny toy to fix the viewer attention problem. According to a recent study by AdWeek and GumGum, data suggests in two years that 77% of advertisers will use six-second ads. Furthermore, 81% will use 15-second ads and only 59% will deploy ads as long as 30 seconds. Before advertisers shrink ad duration to appeal to the dwindling attention span of consumers, we should first ask ourselves: do we know what causes the ad-attention deficit among viewers?
A typical pitch would have us believe that viewers find longer ads annoying and therefore shorter ones would be more in line with the supposedly plummeting attention spans. Intuitively it makes sense…until you look at the actual trends in video viewership.
First, we don’t see ad abandonment rates to be any higher for longer format (30-second+) ads relative to their shorter form equivalents. The fact is the most popular video ads online are over 45 seconds long with the average duration of the most widely shared ads being 2 minutes. In a Google Brand Lift study, Google measured what ads people chose to watch. They monitored whether they watched 15 seconds, 30 seconds or more, how long they watched the longer cuts, and how that impacted brand recall and favorability.
The verdict? The longer cuts (some with a 2:17 minute runtime) were watched more than the 15-second ad, with the 30-second ad the least skipped, and the 15-second ad the most skipped. While all three versions performed well above the brands benchmarks, the 30-second ad had the highest view-through rate (VTR). In fact, its VTR was 30% higher than that of the 15-second spot. Thus, time in view plays a crucial role when it comes to moving the needle on consideration and brand awareness proving that more is sometimes…well, more.
With the ever-growing binge-watching phenomenon over the past few years, it’s difficult to assume that attention spans are shrinking. The real cause for attention deficit is lack of control over the ad experience. Viewers rank auto-play, page-takeovers, and frequency-jamming at the very top of the list of major annoyances. They want control over how and when they would like to see the ads. Do the 6-second ads fix these issues?
Marketers need to be thinking beyond the “shorter is sweeter” mentality in order to capture effectiveness metrics. Ads should move consumers at the moments that matter, and measuring the impact on key brand metrics (like building brand affinity) results in more effective ad spend.
The results of our newest whitepaper are in! Our study with over 200 leading marketers dives head first into discrepancies between attention and engagement. Check out our newest whitepaper or contact us to learn more!