Size matters – insights into Video Ads length, content, media channels

There is increasing evidence of the effectiveness of online video ads. Based on research from the last year, here are some key insights into video ads and how to utilise them to best serve your next video ad campaign:

Short-form video ads

Best for Social Platforms

Research by MediaScience and the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute found that 6 second ads deliver 60% of the impact of a 30-second ad. The results showed that short ads can deliver effectiveness efficiently, because ad length has diminishing returns – most of the effect of ad length on ad awareness is delivered by the first five seconds of exposure.

Even ultra-short 2-second ads are more effective than the first few seconds of a full 30-second spot. In a study testing 2-second edits of regular video ads versus the 30-second ad: 90% of viewers recognise the product (versus 46% after the first two seconds of the original long commercial), and 70% understand the message (versus 25%).

This effectiveness makes short-form video ads perfect for Social media given that the average mobile post is seen for 1.7 seconds (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat). A 6-second video (shot so it can be cropped to square, landscape and vertical) which front-weights the message works for social feeds, stories, YouTube and Snapchat, making it truly multi-platform.

And while a 2-second video is never going to convey a complex message, it can grab attention and make a mark in a consumer’s mind – like a good animated GIF, TikTok filter or boomerang.

Creative for Short-form ads

Short-form ads are a challenge because there is so little time in which to develop the creative and deliver a message – but having triggers to link the brand to the ad can help drive recognition quickly.

Based on two AI-powered studies, creative suggestions for short-form video success include:

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

While there are many benefits and uses for Short-form video ads it is important to remember they do not allow for emotional storytelling. However they can be effective reminders of 30- or 60-second ads. Brands should therefore use a portfolio of ad lengths for different kinds of ad experiences.

Reference. WARC