The argument for more effective short-form ads
The number of 15-second spots has shot up since 2008
January 23, 2014
By Blake Burrus
The 15-second ad is already “the new black,” but it has yet to achieve the same level of audience engagement as its 30-second and one-minute predecessors.
Advertisers must now explore this new frontier further to make short-form ads more effective, regardless of the platform.
According to Nielsen, the number of 15-second television commercials jumped more than 80 percent between 2008 and 2012.
And the numbers continue to grow for ads 15 seconds or less, partially due to the proliferation of mobile technologies and new platforms for watching pithy online videos.
Contrary to what many advertisers think, these new platforms are providing more opportunities for existing content. TV ads and mobile ads can be complementary, if advertisers can master the short-form video.
Perfecting the 15-second ad won’t be an easy task.
As advertisers’ attention (and budgets) are increasingly divided among new and traditional platforms, many have turned to new tools like consumer neuroscience to boost their efficiency and effectiveness in the face of rapid change.
As ad lengths are shrinking, ad budgets are shifting. Many advertisers don’t have the resources to create entirely new ad concepts customized for each channel, and they must repurpose 30-second ads for each of the short-form spots.
Industry creatives typically rely on their “gut” – experience and personal judgment – to repurpose traditional ads by trimming the storyline and reducing repetition. This can result in a significantly less-effective 15-second version of a 30-second commercial.
Neuroscience is changing the art of “cut downs” by creating the science of “neurological ad compression,” which uses cutting-edge, moment-by-moment analysis of how consumers react to what they watch.
Whereas traditional methods require consumers to reflect honestly and accurately about their reactions (often an unrealistic task), consumer neuroscience adds more precise measures of engagement to current gauges of effectiveness.
Electroencephalography (EEG) measurements can track the exact moments an ad activates memory, draws attention or prompts emotional response, and can determine on an instant-by-instant basis which parts are and are not effective in engaging viewers.
Consumer neuroscience gives advertisers new insights into viewers’ emotional engagement, something creative teams have always considered important but were never able to measure. The technology can confirm, for example, if moments of humor have real impact.
Once crucial moments that maximize key neurological responses are identified, algorithms create a rough edit between 10 and 14 seconds (typically one-third the length of the original spot).
The re-cut commercial is then edited by agency creatives for story flow, continuity and visual seamlessness into a final spot that can be used for TV or alternative video platforms.
Simply put: It uses only the most vital moments and transitions – minimizing spend and maximizing impact.
This mix of art and science is effective and cost-effective. Based on Nielsen NeuroFocus testing of original 30-second TV spots and the EEG-optimized 15-second spots, approximately 90 percent of neuroscience-optimized 15-second ads test just as well as their 30-second counterparts, and a majority actually tests better.
The neurological ad compression approach helps advertisers increase the reach and resonance of campaigns for the same level of spending or even considerably less, with no loss in effectiveness.
Neuroscience not only helps maximize the impact of 15-second ads (a relatively modern challenge), it also resolves a historical problem for advertisers, who for decades have wasted a significant portion of production costs and ad spend because of their limited ability to understand consumers’ emotional responses.
Now, with creative teams spread increasingly thin, this scientific process can boost efficiency by providing instant feedback on what works and what doesn’t, making the ad team’s job easier and helping advertising evolve at the pace of technology.
Blake Burrus is senior vice president of client service at Nielsen Neurofocus, a global leader in neurological testing for consumer research.
‘Born in the Wild,’ loud, messy, staged
NBC’s ‘Tonight Show’ hits 11-month high
Friday overnights: ‘Last Man Standing’ lifts ABC
This week’s daypart ratings
Remembering Leonard Nimoy, ‘Star Trek’s’ Spock
Solid sendoff for ‘How to Get Away with Murder’
Alas, 2014 wasn’t good for advertising
Nickelodeon upfront: Cutting the cord
‘The Last Man on Earth,’ quite good
Rachel, I’m fed up with his dirty talk
Tell us your thoughts on Hispanic media
Best tube bets this weekend
Cable overnights: ‘O’Reilly’ tops 3 million again
- Joshua McGuire becomes creative director at Fluid Inc.
- Joe Kuna becomes Southeast CMO at Chief Outsiders
- Maureen Taran becomes talent executive at truTV
- Tom Anderson becomes personal finance writer at CNBC.com
- Remy Stern rises to chief digital officer at The New York Post
- Deena Schacter joins and Katie Tomlinson rises at Veranda
- Luz Maria Doria, Irma Martinez and Luz Avila-Kyncl join Siempre Mujer
- Briga Heelan joins NBC's pilot 'How We Live'
- Terry O’Quinn joins ABC's 'The Adversaries'
- Melissa George and Dave Annable join NBC's 'Heart Matters'
This week’s daypart ratings
This week’s cable ratings
This month’s new media traffic data
This week’s broadcast ratings
This week’s top movies, songs and books
This week’s younger viewer ratings
Communications strategist/media planner in Chicago
Digital campaign and analytics manager
Digital media buyer job in Springfield, MO
Assistant media planner job in Santa Monica
Digital media planner opening in Las Vegas