6 seconds isn’t enough time to do most of our favorite things (at least I hope).
“Can you make an impact in just 6 seconds?” I was curious.
This question made me take a closer look at the purpose of 6-second video advertisements and ask questions. Who is using these advertisements effectively? Is anyone using them effectively? Who is seeing real results with these? What I found was interesting…
As watch time on YouTube continues to go through the roof and YouTube makes people feel good it is obvious that people are engaging with the platform and the trend will not stop soon.
This high-level of attention is a sign that there are plenty of people watching/on YouTube, but are 6-second advertisements actually helping anyone reach their ultimate goal? Of course, there are reports that say so, there are supposed to be, but are they impactful beyond the numbers?
The origin of short video advertisements
The bumper advertisement has been available on YouTube for the past two years but YouTube did not create the idea of a bumper advertisement. The idea to use bumper advertisements was borrowed from broadcast television.
From day 1, the team at YouTube knew how these bumper advertisements could fit into the mix. They imagined them as a way to complement advertising campaigns and not lead them (although even that is changing).
“We like to think of Bumper ads as little haikus of video ads – and we’re excited to see what the creative community will do with them,” Zach Lupei, Product Manager at Google
The “creative community” must have accepted Zach’s quote as a challenge because these 6-second video advertisements have gotten better every year. Not only have the advertisements themselves improved, but the surrounding strategy has too.
I did a ton of research on 6-second video advertisements and watched some of “the best”.
This exercise helped me to spot two interesting ways that brands are using this advertising format to spread their message.
Although there are many ways to approach your 6-second advertising strategy, I am going to focus on the two that seemed like the most logical/powerful in this piece.
- Raising brand awareness
- Sequential advertising
Let’s start with brand awareness…
6-second video advertisement use cases
Raising brand awareness (in a way that isn’t an annoying a** ad)
Attention is becoming harder to get by the day, which makes 6-second advertisements perfect for the modern day attention span. Many brands are using these advertisements to simply get people to remember them.
Simply reminding people that you exist can be valuable for brands with large names or brands that are well-known in a specific area. For them, the big goal is reminding you that they exist than to introduce themselves to you as a brand.
Let’s look at Duracell as an example.
I chose the following Duracell advertisement because it had great results, was the advertisement I remembered the most, and is on the leaderboard that Google keeps for 6-second advertisements. If you look for good examples of 6-second advertisements it is likely that you will find this example first.
The first time I watched, all I could think was “ok, what’s next?”, I couldn’t fight the feeling that I was supposed to get “more” from it.
The point wasn’t too clear to me after watching the first time, so I dug a little deeper.
What Duracell was trying to achieve: A brand perspective
From a brand perspective, Duracell wanted to make sure that the image you see matched their larger brand campaign of “trust is power”. This campaign idea came from the insight that “trust is essential but in short supply these days”.
Ramon Velutini, the Vice President of marketing at Duracell was quoted saying
“The challenge was how to champion the product and convey a message of trust in a short amount of time; nailing it required testing and learning. ‘Slamtone’ performed the best because it paired iconic features—our coppertop imagery and audible ‘slamtone’—with a clear brand message. It is unquestionably Duracell.”
After creating an impactful brand strategy with a message, it was time for the team to figure out what this advertisement would actually look like
What Duracell was trying to achieve: A creative perspective
Duracell worked with the popular advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy to create the video bumpers. When watching these 6-second advertisements, they realized that they had the freedom to do different things because it is only 6 seconds.
Eric Helin, Creative Director at Wieden+Kennedy was quoted saying
“The time constraint gives you the freedom to do things you wouldn’t necessarily do in a longer spot. A key tenet of the ‘Trust is Power’ campaign was to ‘hero’ the product. So the creative idea for ‘Slamtone’ and the other bumper ads was to do that in almost absurdly bold ways. The succinctness of six seconds makes the Duracell battery feel larger than life.“
They nailed it.
Maybe it’s because I watched so many 6 second advertisements, maybe it’s because I already knew the Duracell brand, maybe it’s because I study marketing/advertising, but I remembered this spot for days because of how striking it felt.
Although it was short, it had some sort of impact in the way I remembered it (maybe it will for you too).
Immediately after this, I began to think about the fact that most people do not have a brand that is well-known, so how would they be able to do this? Not everyone is interested in general awareness because most of us don’t have big brands and/or boatloads of money. We want something that can make an impact today. Also, what if someone doesn’t have the budget to create this?
This next use-case is one that anyone can use in many different ways…
Ok, maybe not that kind of sequence…
Planning your video advertisements as part of a sequence
There was another use case for these 6-second advertisements that I found practical and useful.
It allows you to serve advertisements to people in a planned sequence so that you know people see them in a certain order (I’m sure you can already think of ways to use this). With algorithms controlling how things are served today, sequential advertising can be a powerful way to control the delivery of a consistent message.
Controlling the creative you show people is not the only benefit though. You can also make sure that your message is being served to specific people in an order that makes sense for your goals.
Not everyone who is shown an advertisement will watch it, which is what makes sequential advertising even more powerful!
While looking for examples of good bumper advertisement sequences brands have put together, I could not find one I liked more than Airbnb.
It’s amazing how they were able to convey so much in 6 seconds and tailor their message to span across multiple videos.
Imagine seeing these videos in this order as advertisements!
Video 1 in the sequence:
Video 2 in the sequence:
I can imagine how these advertisements would stick, I’m sure you can too. They are the perfect way to connect with users and set up the opportunity for you to show people a longer video advertisement.
Another way to approach this could be to show a user a 6-second advertisement, followed by a 30 second, and finished with another 6-second.
Many users would tolerate this kind of advertising because you are not taking too much of their time. Think about it, what actually pisses you off about advertisements? For most of us, it’s the fact that they get in the way.
“30 WHOLE seconds before I get to watch how to make my extra vegan gluten-free cheese recipe?! For what?!”
People are becoming increasingly annoyed with advertising. Although it is not a HUGE topic of conversation (yet), I do believe that we should all be trying to make advertisements that are made for real people.
Advertisements that maybe even acknowledge the fact that ads are annoying because most people making them are still making them for TV. The same TV that people are leaving in herds.
If you do decide to try advertisements for your business or brand, here are two key questions you can ask yourself to get started.
- What do I want to get out of this advertisement?
- What’s my viewer thinking about when they watch my advertisement? How do they feel at that exact moment?
We are at the beginning of what will be a new wave of video marketing. New video advertising formats, dynamic videos & more control over in-video experiences are beginning to seem like the way of the future.
One thing is for sure, we won’t stop liking video content anytime soon.
Before you go…
Have you started using 6-second ads? If so, what were the results you got? What did you learn? Thoughts on YouTube ads in general?
My name is Farouk but my friends call me ‘rouk for short. I help people who are trying to build their personal brand or business through videography and video marketing.
If you would like to view some of my past projects and learn more about how I can help you, you can check out my portfolio here!
Here are some other 6 second advertisements that I found during my search. I hope you enjoy the inspiration!!