Well, it seems the inevitable has happened: advertising experts are now predicting that six-second ads will start gaining traction in traditional media in 2018. It’s safe to say our collective attention spans have finally reached an all-time low. And who can blame us, really?

It’s hard to keep up with the enormous amount of information coming at us from screens of every shape and size. So, while it may seem crazy to try to convey a brand message in less time than it takes you to read this sentence, it’s simply becoming a more effective way to communicate to some audiences.

Before you knock it, here’s something to consider: you’ve actually seen six-second ads for decades now—in your car. Billboards are, in essence, six-second ads. That’s actually the average amount of time drivers spend looking at your ad as they pass by. In this digital age, it feels natural for traditional platforms like television to take a swing at similarly paced messaging.

But is brevity really the way of the marketing world now? Are we all just rubberneckers passing through, barely able to pay attention for even a full, half-minute commercial? The jury is still out. In the meantime, here are some important questions to ask about six-second ads and their place in your marketing plan.

What Makes Six-Second Ads Effective?

This is perhaps the most obvious question. After all, what can your audience really see if they blink their eyes twice and the ad is over? The answer is less about the content and more about the placement.

The concept is that shorter is better when trying to reach a new audience, and many advertisers are buying in. In fact, if you watch Fox Sports this football season, you’ll see a good number of six-second commercials peppered throughout the broadcast. If your audience doesn’t know your brand, they’re far less likely to sit through a 30-second commercial and will likely be itching to check their Twitter feed instead.

Six-second ads also provide cross-device compatibility. Thanks to YouTube, advertisers have already been developing ads that can communicate before the “Skip Ad” button has time to pop up. Placing these micro-ads across several platforms allows for a greater ROI.

Should You Invest in Six-Second Ads?

If video is the ideal medium for your message, then six-second ads are certainly worth considering. But it’s essential to understand how you need to reach your audience. For instance, if you’re aiming for a younger generation that spends a great deal of time on their mobile devices, a six-second ad might be your sweet spot. If your audience doesn’t always have their phone glued to their hands, however, they might still prefer traditional commercials.

Shorter ads don’t always trim the budget, either. Our Integrated Media Director Lesley Thompson is quick to point out that less air time doesn’t necessarily equate to fewer ad dollars. Standard network ad blocks are 30 seconds of air time. If you’ve purchased a 15-second ad before, you already know it doesn’t cost 50% of the cost of 30 seconds. Six-second ads will follow suit.

Are Six Second Ads the Wave of the Future?

Maybe. Maybe not. Experimentation is essential to maintaining consistent reach with your audience, and this is the latest industry attempt at staying fresh.

The rate at which consumers receive information is increasing every day, so it’s a good idea in general to begin aiming for a more efficient delivery of your message. Whether this trend catches on, however, is entirely dependent on how effectively messages can be communicated in these lightning-fast bursts. Because no matter how long your audience pays attention, they won’t respond if the message isn’t right.

Putting together a media plan that mixes traditional with cutting-edge technology is a particular specialty of our Integrated Media Director, Lesley Thompson. Watch Lesley explain how it all works in the first episode of our new vlog series, Elevator Pitches.

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