Shorter TV Spots on the Rise: But Brief may not Always be Best
According to a recent USA Today article “TV Commercials Shrink to Match Attention Spans,” shorter television commercials are growing in popularity:
The number of 15-second television commercials has jumped more than 70 percent in five years to nearly 5.5 million last year, according to Nielsen. They made up 34 percent of all national ads on the air last year, up from 29 percent in 2005.
But are they a perfect fit for everyone? ND&P’s Chuck Miller weighs in:
15 second commercials? – it all depends. Of course, :15s aren’t really new, but maybe the viewing public (or media analysts) are starting to notice the increase in numbers of short spots. :05s, :10s, and :15s have been around for a long time – and in recent years the trend towards bookend placements has been a notable tactic in using short spots. There’s no doubt these tactics afford leverage to an advertiser seeking to maximize frequency and maintain (or reduce) budget. We’re all aware that countless tests have proven that frequency is a major multiplier (but not the only one: remember reach?) in media effectiveness.
In the opinion of this media planner/buyer (there’s a caveat if ever there was one!) shorter spots placed frequently can certainly work to the client’s advantage for certain types of advertising. For consumer products with well-established brands, this is a tactic that should always be considered in any media array that includes TV. In the same vein, advertisers who have a well-established media presence with standard-length :30s can also cut back to shorter placements and capitalize on viewer recognition; Geico and Progressive Insurance are both using this tactic at present.
The snags arise with scenarios like the following:
-The creative elements require a longer time to lead the viewer through a concept to reach the target conclusion about the product/service;
-The advertiser either has never been on television before, has been dark for a long time, or is launching a new product/service. As described in the original article, we’re dealing with shortened attention spans here. To expect the viewer to reach the “Aha” moment in the midst of a rapid-fire sequence of short commercials is not very realistic when we’re trying to communicate completely new information.
-The product or service is of a complexity that a :15 cannot do justice to its uniqueness, its core benefit(s), or – especially critical - the response mechanism. In other words, a spot for a cyberknife surgery is not the same animal as one promoting a pizza chain.
On the other hand, we have very successfully used closed captioning sponsorships (:05 video billboards during newscasts) for a funeral provider here in the Richmond market, as a way to support brand awareness.
The bottom line? A shorter TV spot may be a viable option for your particular broadcast campaign, but before you stop the clock on those extra seconds of airtime – make sure it’s also a good fit for your strategy and your message.