Media Redefined: Brand stories — gone in six seconds
by Martin MacGregor (@MartMacG) The heresy involved in limiting an artist’s creative expression has no bounds, and this debate really is the line of where pure art meets commercial reality. This is why I was recently intrigued to see a lot of coverage of Facebook and YouTube announcing the arrival of the 6s-ad as the “ideal ad length”.
Duration. That awkward subject that comes up at the end of most conversations involving media and creative. It’s the moment when the creative team tries desperately to either invoke their inner charm or outer asshole to secure the gallery space they need to hang their picture.
“There is no way we can tell this story in less than 60 seconds.”
“I’m thinking a 45-second ad, followed by three 15-second cutdowns. All in the same programme.”
I’ve had a million of these conversations and I always end up feeling like the person from finance who cancelled the end-of-year party.
Change the parameters
The rise of the mobile video ad was always going to change the parameters as consumer behaviour shifted. I have no doubt that Facebook and Alphabet will push an agenda that suits their commercial interests, too. Q2 results for Facebook showed that US$8bn of its US$9.3bn revenue came from mobile ad revenue, most of which would now be video.
That being said, it did research on 6-, 15- and 30-second ads and, to quote Sheryl Sandbergh, “The shortest duration saw highest brand metrics across the board.”
More interesting is what is driving this: consumers now consciously desire to avoid advertising. Their patience level at brands attempted storytelling getting in the way of a quality content experience is low and they are more likely to react positively to a much-shorter duration. It’s almost as if they respect the brand more for respecting their time.
In mid-June 2017, Fox Networks Group in the US became the first broadcast-TV company that agreed to run 6s-ads on its digital and on-demand properties — with plans to eventually bring them to linear TV. It believes that that six seconds is long enough to provide “appreciable brand lift” without hurting the “optimal user experience”.
This is hardly inspiring language and I’m scratching my head to come up with how I am going to land a 6s-ad recommendation in my next creative session, not to mention the fight with TV channels which unfairly punish advertisers which advertise below what they see as the optimal 30-second duration. That very-comfortable rate card is going to have to be torn up and the paradigm shifted.
Whenever I write a tweet, I get very quickly to the point where the number at the bottom moves negative and I have to cut words. I end up really enjoying this process — the challenge of finding only the necessary words to get my point across is hugely satisfying — and the result is always better than the original. And so it’s going to have to be for brands. They are going to need to craft their stories until the consumer will get it all in six seconds.
Wish me luck with those artists.
Martin MacGregor (@MartMacG) is managing director of Connect, an M&C Saatchi Company, with offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Martin has spent 18 years in the industry, and has previously worked at Ogilvy and was MD of MEC Nota Bene in Cape Town. He contributes the monthly “Media Redefined” column, in which he challenges norms in the media space, to MarkLives.com.