Size matters!
May 19, 2023
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Size matters!

Insights into Video Ads length, content and media channels

Recent research suggests that online video ads are becoming more effective. To optimise your next video ad campaign, here are some essential findings from the past year regarding video ads and their utilisation.

Short-form video ads

Best for Social Platforms

According to research conducted by MediaScience and the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, 6-second ads have been found to generate 60% of the impact of a 30-second ad. The study suggests that shorter ads can be effective as ad length has diminishing returns, with the majority of the effect being delivered within the first five seconds of exposure. Surprisingly, even ultra-short 2-second ads are more effective than the first few seconds of a full 30-second spot. In a study comparing 2-second edits of regular video ads to a 30-second ad, 90% of viewers recognised the product in the 2-second edit, while only 46% did so after the first two seconds of the longer commercial. Additionally, 70% of viewers understood the message of the 2-second edit compared to 25% in the first two seconds of the original long commercial.

This level of effectiveness makes short-form video ads an ideal fit for social media, where the average mobile post is only seen for 1.7 seconds on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. A 6-second video that emphasises the message works for various social media platforms, including feeds, stories, YouTube, and Snapchat. The video can be shot to be cropped to square, landscape, and vertical, making it truly multi-platform. While a 2-second video may not convey a complex message, it can capture viewers' attention and leave an impression in their minds, similar to a good animated GIF, TikTok filter, or boomerang.

Creative for Short-form ads

Crafting effective short-form ads can be difficult due to the limited time available to develop the creative and convey a message. However, incorporating triggers that connect the brand to the ad can facilitate swift recognition. Two AI-powered studies offer creative recommendations for achieving success with short-form videos, such as:

Tell a compelling story - by having only one key message and fewer scene edits

Keep the brand at the heart of the action - using brand elements from the start does not have a significant impact on attention levels or emotional engagement; and clear branding at the end increases viewers wanting to know more, with pack shots particularly effective

Use celebrities with caution - they are less emotionally engaging; if used, connection to brand must be easy to understand

Open with human faces and close-ups - for higher engagement

Pay attention to audio - for sound on, use voiceover rather than dialogue to avoid confusion; for sound-off, avoid subtitles but use captions baked inside the creative. Also think carefully about music - it can cause confusion or have a polarising effect in a short format

Longer video ads are far from dead – the chance for story telling

15 second ads

A study by research firm Forethought found no significant difference between 15 and 30 second ads. It attributes this to the “peak-end rule” as length had little impact on effectiveness when commercials had the same peak and end creative elements. However, it suggests brands should invest in longer form spots as well as fifteens as they can better elicit emotion and are more appropriate for complex messages such a new product or campaigns launches.

30 second ads

Data from early 2019 shows 30-second ads account for over two-thirds (69%) of all video impressions. This is actually up from 46% in Q1 2018 at the expense of fifteen second ads which have fallen from 48% to just over one-quarter (28%). This is due to a growth in connected TV (CTV) impressions as the channel offers a TV-like viewing experience and the inability of viewers to skip.

1-2 minute ads

YouTube found that brand ads between 1.2 and 1.7 minutes long are most likely to be shared compared to shorter or longer ads. The study also found that the presence of elements of a dramatic narrative structure (e.g likeable/relatable characters and an engaging plot) motivates viewers to share.

In conclusion – Short and Long work hand in hand

Short-form video ads offer numerous benefits and applications, but they lack the ability to convey emotional storytelling. Nonetheless, they can serve as effective reminders for 30- or 60-second ads. To ensure diverse ad experiences, brands should employ a range of ad lengths in their portfolio.