5, 4, 3, 2, 1 — SKIP. This is our mindset when we encounter a pre-roll ad on a video we’re trying to watch. Makes sense when you consider our attention spans are lowering with each generation. In fact, Gen Zers have an average attention span of only eight seconds.
Nearly a decade ago, YouTube introduced the “skip” button for pre-roll ads. This created a new challenge for marketers. The original thinking was that you had to grab the viewer’s attention within those six seconds to get them to continue to watch the rest of your ad. However, in reality, even if people are engaged in those first six seconds, they’re still incredibly likely to skip the ad to get to the content they want to see. As a result, in came “bumper ads” — or those quick six-second video spots that can’t be skipped.
It turns out, when done right, six-seconds can be all you need to resonate with the audience. But, the prospect of creating something that’s on strategy, creative, and unique enough to stand out among the content overload of today’s society in six seconds can be quite daunting.
So, here are six tips to creating successful six-second ads — say that six times fast.
Unlike traditional 30- or even 60-second spots, there isn’t time for the traditional storytelling arc — beginning, middle, and end. Instead, the ad must get right to the point. Identify the most important message you want to convey and get to it.
Don’t make people think too hard. Directly following your ad, they’re going to view whatever they actually wanted to watch in the first place, so ensure your ad makes the impression you want within this tiny timeframe and doesn’t leave lingering questions.
Yes, it’s only six seconds, but the viewer still needs to feel something. Since there isn’t time for setting up a story, it’s essential to tap into an emotional reaction with the viewer. Whether it’s fun, humor, sentimentality, shock value, or enticing, make the viewer feel something.
Depending on the medium, there’s a high chance any audio included in the piece won’t be heard. Therefore, it’s imperative the concept of the piece can stand strong without audio. To help fill that void, use headlines that convey the main message.
While it’s important to ensure your brand doesn’t get lost, we suggest letting branding take a back seat in these short spots and instead let the creative content do the heavy lifting. In most cases, too many in-your-face logos out of the gate will make a viewer tune out and their eyes glaze over. By allowing the content to be attention-grabbing, it’s likely you’ll grab the viewer’s attention more effectively.
People consume media differently and have varying expectations on different platforms. Therefore, creating videos specifically for the platform you’re sharing it on can be a more effective way to capture consumer engagement compared to using a one-size-fits-all strategy. For example, a six-second video for Instagram might be more effective shot as live action, authentic, and featuring Instagram-worthy subjects. However, more animation and graphics-type videos might be more effective on Facebook. Additionally, it’s imperative to treat these six-second bumper ads as their own spot and not just take six seconds from a 30-second spot.
As content consumption continues to change, so too does the way we create ads. Six-second ads allow you to get your messaging in front of your target audience in a less disruptive manner. Bottom line, with these types of ads, you need to focus on communicating one thing quickly, creatively, effectively, and loudly.
Check out the examples below of some six-second ads we’ve worked on with clients.