Too long? Too short? Just right!

Snack-Size Ads Suit a Video-Hungry Audience 

It’s likely no surprise that eMarketer projects digital video advertising spending to increase from $3.8 Billion in 2013 to more than $11 billion in 2017. Video consumption is undoubtedly on the rise.

But the Goldilocks-like questions many advertisers have within the digital video space are: Which videos are too long? Which videos are too short? Which videos are just right?

In a culture that craves on-demand content and instant gratification, audiences have developed shortened “digital patience” (Ugh, it’s still buffering?) and even shorter attention spans. In fact – the average human attention span has decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to eight seconds in 2013, a mere second shorter than the attention span of a goldfish.

(On that note, I hope I haven’t lost you yet…stay with me!)

The decreased length of our attention spans has been widely attributed to the influx of social media and the constant connectivity associated with smartphone usage. Our increasingly pervasive second-screen habits exemplify our diminished ability to stay attentive; as we lose focus on a single screen, we switch our attention quickly to media content on our second (or in some cases, third) device.

With so much clutter and room for distraction – the message is pretty simple when it comes to your digital video ads: keep them short.

Our acclimation to six-second Vine videos and 15-second Instagram clips has created an appetite for short, snackable content. Brands are constantly challenged to find new and creative ways to relay their brand messages in our 140-characters-or-less digital world. Lowe’s Home Improvement mastered the concept of short, sweet and to-the-point social videos with its “Fix in Six” campaign on Vine. Lowes’s was able to utilize six-second videos to provide home-improvement tips and tricks in brief, easy-to-digest portions that audiences enjoyed watching and were willing to share.

A recent eMarketer release discusses the optimal length of digital video ads. It showed that 81 percent of internet users (18+) surveyed preferred ads no more than 30-seconds in length, and 46 percent preferred even shorter ads of 15 seconds or less.

This preference for shorter video ads is not exclusive to digital platforms. Nielsen’s 2014 State of the Media report showed a  rise in 15-second commercial usage across traditional television and cable, stating that 95 percent of the shorter 15-second spots performed as well or better than their :30 counterparts.

Commercial length blog post graphic

The growing popularity of binge-watching video content has definitely made the question of “what’s the ideal length of an online video” much more interesting. Now the so-called “ideal length” is something that can be determined by the individual viewer. Audiences are consuming (and will continue to consume) as much or as little video content as they want, when and how they want to view it.

However – the beauty of digital video in the advertising space is the access brands have to real-time, actionable insights that allow them to optimize their content and guide their campaign decisions based on the actual performance of their videos. If an advertiser sees a drop-off of viewers after 10 or 15 seconds into their 30-second ad, they can work to condense that content into a 15-second spot that still communicates the brand’s message, but at a length that is more engaging to the audience. As long as you can ensure the brand message or call-to-action won’t be lost by trimming it down,  it will likely help hold viewers’ attention for the duration of the spot.

So in our media-laden world that’s an all-you-can-eat buffet of viral, streaming, binge-able content – the message is clear: snack-size ads hit the spot for a multi-screen, video-hungry audience.

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