Why 6 Seconds is Ideal for Video Ads

Short and sweet: that’s the recipe for success when creating video ads.

While 30-second spots have long been the norm for TV, mobile and social media usage are changing the way brands think about ads. And the new standard is brief, punchy video ads that last only a few seconds, and stand out in a fast-paced digital environment.

Facebook is now working with advertisers to develop short video ads, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said last week on a second-quarter earnings conference call with CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Wall Street analysts. Facebook’s ad revenue has grown by 47% from the quarter a year earlier; the $9.2 billion revenue is in large part due to video and mobile advertising.

In the call, Sandberg said that 6 seconds was the ideal video ad length, based on results from a recent test with Tropicana. The test compared outcomes from Facebook ads with running times of 6, 15 and 30 seconds. The shortest ads produced the best all-around metrics.  

The 6-second format is becoming the new standard in digital advertising. YouTube introduced non-skippable, 6-second bumper ads last year to positive overall results: YouTube has maintain ad revenue, consumers receive a better viewing experience, and brands make the most of a concise, targeted video ad. Fox Networks Group announced that it will start rolling out 6-second ads on its digital and on-demand properties; Fox will also pioneer 6-second spots on broadcast TV during its “Teen Choice Awards” on August 13.

The revelation that shorter ads are more effective shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering how people engage with multiple tasks and screens at once. Adults tend to lose concentration after 8 seconds, according to a 2015 study from Microsoft Corp. – so 6 seconds hits the sweet spot right before the average attention span fizzles out.

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