Current Issue Summary
Sept 2021 (Vol. 61, Issue 3)
Strategies for More Effective Six-Second Video Advertisements: Making the Most of 144 Frames
Scholars and practitioners in recent years have grappled with the potential and limitations of six-second ads. A new study clarifies those constraints and offers actionable strategies in various stages of the creative process, in order to help advertisers boost the effectiveness of short, online video ads. The authors, Colin Campbell (University of San Diego) and Erin Pearson (University of East Anglia), draw on research in both advertising and screen media. In a three-stage qualitative investigation, they outline strategies around the stages of the advertisement creation process—planning, writing, production and placement.
The work involved accessing a wide array of English-language video advertisements from Unruly Media, Facebook and YouTube. There were some logistical restraints: Only about three percent of all video advertisements studied in the research were in six-second format. To give greater depth to their investigation, the authors examined and coded all advertisements 10 seconds or less in the selected media. Interviews with advertising professionals illuminated the results.
The researchers examined the top 50 performing advertisements as well the worst 50. Their efforts revealed that ultra-short-form commercials require the use of novel and unique approaches, with changing focal points at each stage of advertisement creation. In more detail, they found that best practices leverage consumer experiences and knowledge to create greater impact. To that end, compelling narratives need to be planned in such a way that they can be built into a longer format and then condensed to keep the clarity of the message involved.
Among the authors’ recommendations:
- Six-second ads should use more experimental narrative forms, such as episodic storytelling—depicting complex storylines through a series of interconnected but out-of-sequence short ads, each offering a window into a larger world.
- Rather than explicitly showing scenes that fully convey the story, six-second ads rely on “omission, reference and allusion.”
- “Such narrative forms often require viewer interpretation and rely heavily on an audience’s experiences and existing knowledge.” This is constraining for advertisers, but also suggests that “precise targeting is more important for six-second ads.”
- Advertisers also should experiment with a more compressed film style that is atypical of most video ads. “Filmmaking and editing techniques can ease viewer comprehension and maximize communicated meaning.”
- “The results highlight the value of precise targeting and the potential for software solutions that make serialized targeting easier to operationalize.”
- One caveat: “Increased use of open and experimental narratives may present risk for advertisers by creating the potential for multiple—and, in some cases, unanticipated— meanings.”
Read the full article here.