It’s the Quality, Not the Ad’s Length That Matters

As the use of video ads grows, the time we spend paying attention to them seems to shrink. Your video ad now has about 8 seconds to make an impression  Researchers in Canada “surveyed 2,000 participants and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs) and found that since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began) the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds.”

Why then are video ads so effective? There is quite a bit of conflicting information on this, so let’s look at a few opinions. And believe us, these ARE opinions.

Ad Age believes video ads are effective because they can tell more of a story in less time. According to this article, there are two ways ads affect a viewer: the central route and the peripheral route.

The central route refers to situations whereby the consumer is invested, in the sense that they want or need the product, and thus can make thoughtful decisions based on facts and logic.

The peripheral route is where the receiver does not think carefully about the communication itself, and instead makes decisions based on superficial stimuli, also known as “cues.” Cues can include colors, music, storytelling and more. In the peripheral route, content and facts may be ignored or overlooked.

Even a short video can generate more emotional cues than a photo, as we all learned from the existence of Vine, the site where people could watch 6-second videos. Some of those videos gave enough emotional cues in that 6-second time frame that their authors became “stars.” Some of the funniest Vine videos have been saved to YouTube here, and you can see their power. In a very short amount of time, they can tell a pretty good story. But how does that work for an ad?

Videos trigger the central route for some people and the peripheral route for others, two avenues that eventually converge with a common goal: to sell a product or service by selling an underlying idea. It’s ideas that evoke specific emotional responses: joy, pride, sadness, anger, laughter, nostalgia, etc. These emotions fuel passion, and drives human behavior while building a brand relationship with an audience.

While Google originally began selling 30-second and 60-second preroll on YouTube, it has been so roundly rejected that they’ve been largely replaced by 15-second spots. However, an experiment Google performed with Mondelez also found that some people will watch longer videos — as long as 3 minutes –if there is a really good developing story.

However, since it only takes 15-seconds to generate brand recall, why take the risk and spend the extra money?  Geico won video ad campaign of the year in 2016 with its “unskippable” campaign, a series of 6-second videos that introduced the brand in the first five seconds, and told viewers they didn’t have to skip the ads because it was already over. The ad had awesome creative, however, which is often missing from less well-tolerated ads.

Once again it all comes down to the quality of the creative, not the length of the ad.