Over the last 10 years, TV commercials have dropped much of its airing time. When television was first invented and became commonplace in the average consumers household, the average commercial lasted approximately 60 seconds. In 2014, the average commercial was a mix of 15 seconds to 30 seconds in length. This is the result of the emergence of digital venues such as YouTube and Facebook.
So are shorter ads the way to go when a company is trying to grab the attention of its viewers? The answer to this question is yes and no.
The average commercial lasts more than 15 to 30 it will lose the viewers attention if it does not have any value to them. With that being said, if the commercial has value and a good story then the possibility of the a viewer to watch the whole ad will increase.
What is Good about Shorter Ads?
Short ads do not mean that the ad is lacking quality. Even when you are limited to say 15 seconds for a Facebook ad if the story behind the ad is really good the viewer will watch it. According to Heather Taylor vice-president at Ogilvy, “the short form is extremely valuable, because we want to consume quickly.” In many of these cases the point of a shorter ad is to just get the brands message across. Furthermore, Heather explains that shorter ads have a higher chance of being shared on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter.
A great example of this idea of a short ad is when General Electric paired their logo with the caption “Innovation starts at the drawing board.” This ad is effective because the main focus behind it was to get their brands message across. Every great thing the company does starts at a drawing board. This in reinforced by the illustration of a logo being drawing on graph paper implying that their brand was started at a drawing table.
Overall, due to our shorter attention spans, advertisers are now forced to create better content that is more entertaining, meaningful and relatable. They are forced advertisers to get to the point without losing value or details. They end up having to focus on the images, keeping the message short and having quick, interesting and clever headline.
The Case for Longer Ads
According to Kelly O’Keefe, a professor of creative brand management at Virginia Commonwealth University, “it is a myth that consumers reject long ads. They reject uninteresting ads, irrelevant ads or ads that insult their intelligence, and unfortunately these represent the majority of what consumer encounters.” For ads that use meaningful or insulting content “even 10 seconds is intolerable, so many viewers just skip them. But life isn't shaped by 30-second moments, and if a story is relevant, compelling and well told, consumers have proven that they are interested.”
In April 2014, Firestone released a 90 second commercial that did not emphasized the product but the story of two young lovers who run away from their parents in a flatbed truck to elope. Even though this is a great example of a longer ads being effective, it was not originally intended to be this long. The agency, Publicis Groupe, who created the ad, sent the company an unedited version of the commercial. The ad originally was suppose to be aired in 15-30 second slots. With that being said, the company felt that the full version elevated the brand and helped with increasing interesting in their product.