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Six is the new 30

Posted by Stephanie Gilchrist - Marketing Manager at PHMG on

We recently reported on the latest musical trend for shortening song introductions – and now another form of media is reacting to society’s rapidly dwindling attention spans. Read on as we explore the latest phenomenon in marketing: the six-second ad.

As we enter the Christmas period, ad breaks are filled with small-scale epics that tell viewers a story – but if the latest trend in advertising is to really take off, it could spell the end of the two-minute brand adventure. Recent studies show that the collective attention span of the public has dropped significantly to eight seconds, down from 12 in the year 2000. Combine this with the fact that viewers now have ad-free TV at their fingertips (thanks to the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu) and it results in an audience that’s highly unreceptive to the traditional 30-second ad. Clearly, the more time spent watching TV the better – marketers are now trying to give consumers what they want by reducing commercial time to a minimum. And along with the advertisers, media monsters like YouTube, Fox and Facebook are really buying into the idea.

One of the first programmes to premiere the new format was The Walking Dead, with broadcaster AMC giving brands the opportunity to screen six second ads before each new episode. This may sound like a worthless amount of time, but when 10 million on average are tuning into the first minute of a broadcast, it suddenly feels more valuable. Other TV broadcasts to feature six-second interludes include the Baseball World Series, NFL games and the Teen Choice Awards – aptly targeted with the younger generations being at the centre of this new trend. All these trials were well received, and one other pioneering use of the format proves that shorter slots are more powerful in getting through to the consumer. Tropicana recently conducted their own experiment with Facebook adverts, and when the six-seconder went up against the longer runtime, it produced ‘higher brand metrics across the board’. Short and sweet.

This dramatic reduction from traditional advertising slots proves that you can make a difference with only a few seconds. It’s all about making the most of a short space of time – just as On-Hold Marketing does. The average time spent waiting to be connected or transferred is 33 seconds, giving companies a slot five times the size of the new ad. And unlike TV and digital – who’re both fighting against other distractions for your attention – time on-hold has access to a captive audience. From the second the audience picks up the phone they’re already more engaged, making this time perhaps the most valuable of all to connect with a consumer.

It’s no secret that ads are an irritation for many viewers – but this new trend has the capabilities to transform this opinion. With shorter ads, incorporated into the media you’re already absorbing, disruption is minimised and the brand message will sit in your subconscious for longer. Instead of advertisers fighting to keep you away from that skip-ad button, soon you’ll have heard everything they have to say before you have a chance to look away.

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