If you’re panicked that audiences are losing their ability to focus—because, yes, goldfish actually have higher attention spans than humans—don’t fret. While your traditional TV commercial might not pack the same punch as it used to (especially on social), there’s still a huge opportunity to make an impact with short, striking ads.
Hitting Snooze on 30-Second Ads.
Not that long ago, ads were an expected part of many video experiences—you sat through the roughly three minutes of commercials to see what happens next in a sitcom or take mental notes about which film to see in theatres as you wait for a movie to start. Not only were distractions few and far between, the ads were also such an integral part of the experience that, sometimes, you even looked forward to them (anyone else only watch the Super Bowl for the ads?).
Then, slowly, that began to change. Once you could record TV, you could skip the ads. That behavior and expectation began to filter into many other video-based experiences, like on-demand, TiVo, and HBO. Eventually, it evolved on social and OTT as well.
Now, instead of competing with a bathroom break or a chatty audience member, brands are up against a whole lot more distraction and less tolerant expectations—there are shows to watch, gaming apps to play, texts and calls to answer, and entire feeds of posts from families, friends, and communities to check in on. Who has time for a 30-second TV ad?
Three Seconds to Save the Day
Enter the rise of the super short social ad. What might sound impossible (how do I turn my 30-second story into something meaningful in mere seconds?) becomes the new norm. Audiences on social are bombarded with information—so the shorter and sweeter you can make yours, the more likely you’ll get heard.
Skeptical if a few seconds is really enough to make an impact? Rest assured. Turns out, brands only need three seconds to make a connection with their audience. The human brain is a pretty incredible processor, which means campaigns with shorter ads can be just as effective, if not more effective, than your traditional, 30-second spot.
The Secret to Short Ads
The brain is able to perceive and assign meaning to an image after viewing it for only 13 milliseconds. That’s less than a second. Which means, even with users scrolling through social feeds quickly, strong creative will make an impression. The trick is making sure it’s a good one—strong enough to hook your audience and keep them watching. Because, after that, it only takes about two seconds for the image to be encoded into the viewer’s long-term memory.
So, how can you know which visuals are the right ones to capture your audience’s attention? Get the data. Let’s say you’re a fashion brand, struggling to decide if you should open on the product or a model wearing your product. You can analyze the creative elements within your ads to see which is the stronger lever for capturing attention. For example, with VidMob’s Creative IntelligenceTM tool, you could discover that a direct gaze from a model within the first three seconds of an ad dramatically increases your view-through rates.
Ultimately, social media is about dialogue not broadcast. Listen to what your audience wants, analyze what they respond to, and they’ll listen back. Here’s the beauty of what short ads force you to do: Cut to the chase. Tell it to them straight. Avoid the fluff…you get the idea. Focus less on selling and more the user experience to foster a meaningful online relationship with your audience. That’s what will earn you gains in viewer attention and engagement. Just remember, it all beings with those first three seconds.