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A Year Later: The Impact of 6-Second Ads
16 August 2018 • tvsquared
Jayne Fairchild,
UK Marketing Manager

In August of last year, FOX debuted the 6-second ad format during its “Teen Choice Awards” broadcast – offering brands another way to reach engaged viewers, especially during live events. Now that a year has passed, we asked our CTO, Blair Robertson, about the impact these “mini ads” have made on TV advertisers:

Why did the 6-second ad format come to be? And is it growing in popularity? 

While the 30-second TV spot is still highly effective, alternative formats are emerging, as we know. Networks are looking for ways to create more ad inventory and advertisers are exploring new options to get in front of viewers that consume media in increasingly fragmented ways. In the U.S., FOX paved the way for these type of ads. And they are very similar to the 5-second, end-cap sponsorships that are popular in the UK. We’ve seen some uptick – albeit slowly – among certain types of brands with this ad format.

Blair Robertson, CTO

What types of brands are using them? 

Well-established advertisers (especially those with succinct value props) that leverage TV for, primarily, brand awareness are gravitating toward shorter ads during live events. These are brands looking for cost-effective, higher-frequency means of growing reach. These ads offer non-intrusive ways to get in front of large, engaged audiences – there’s no time to leave the room or skip ahead. That being said, they are not ideal for brands that use TV for direct response. There’s simply no time to effectively communicate calls to action.

Is there any indication they are working? 

Considering how popular and effective the end-cap ads are in the UK, I think 6-second ads will prove their worth too. While the onus is on the network to show advertisers how well they work, brands should also be doing their own measurement. Just because an ad is shorter doesn’t eliminate the need for understanding and optimizing its performance. Again, these types of ads aren’t likely to drive immediate response; their value is in brand awareness. Marketers need to make sure they have the right analytical tools in place to quantify this ad format’s longer-term impact.

While response rates increase with unit length, in some cases, we’ve seen shorter creatives perform more effectively than longer adverts on a cost-per-response basis.

Will these shorter-form ads become more mainstream?

Alternatives to 30-second spots are still in their infancy. And while we tend to think things change quickly, in reality, that’s not how it works. We’ll certainly see more brands gravitate toward 6-second ads in the next few years though.

The sell side also needs to limit the number of 6-second ad slots they make available. You can imagine a situation where testing proved that the best format was 6 seconds, and then a lot of brands opted for that format. Ad breaks would end up looking like a flash gun with back-to-back short format spots. And that likely wouldn’t make for a pleasant viewing experience. I would expect that if 6-second spots become more popular, we’ll see a change to the time length conversion factor that dictates, relatively, how much more you pay per second for those spots. Over time, the market will find a price; but at the moment, there are still good deals to be found.

Is TVSquared working with any clients that leverage 6-second ads?

TVSquared works with 700 brands, agencies and networks in 70+ countries to measure and optimize TV campaigns in real time. Not only does our technology track the immediate impact of TV, but it also measures the longer-term impact a campaign has on a business. Among our client base that has used 6-second ads, they are actively quantifying the effect these ads have on KPIs and then using those insights to optimize their next campaigns for performance.