Our Impact


Understanding the role of short-form ads

short-form ads

NEW YORK: Short-form ads that last approximately six seconds offer distinct benefits for brands, but should be used as part of a “portfolio” with more traditional, longer formats.

Duane Varan, CEO of research firm MediaScience, made these recommendations during a keynote session at the Advertising Research Foundation’s (ARF) 2018 CONSUMERxSCIENCE conference.

More specifically, he outlined the findings from several studies that MediaScience conducted with the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, a division of the School of Marketing at the University of South Australia.

One insight, he reported, was that the average unaided brand recall from a seven-second ad – which was the format chosen as the research efforts began before six-second ads entered the mainstream – stood at 9%.

That figure compared with 12% for a 15-second spot and 15% for a 30-second execution, and pointed towards a useful benchmark for brands.

“Yes, the six-second unit is a viable ad model, and it does deliver value,” said Varan. (For more details, read WARC’s in-depth report: Is six seconds enough? The impact of short-form ads.)

“If we actually modelled this out in terms of the effect efficiency, what we end up with in terms of relative effectiveness … [is] this new magic metric, which is 60% efficiency for a seven in this particular case.

“That leads us to a relatively new principle – again, it’s only early research, but we’re hoping to see this replicated in future work – which is that a six-second ad delivers about 60% of the impact of a 30-second commercial.”

A limitation of short-form ads revealed by the lab-based studies, which made use of techniques like facial coding and biometrics, involved storytelling.

“Across both of those [dimensions], when you compared the different units in time, you actually saw … the seven is flat. You just don’t have enough time to take people on a journey. You have enough time to take them in a moment,” said Varan.

“You don’t really end up with a lot of latitude for a rollercoaster experience moving through a lot of emotional variability. In fact, the best story arc is not the 60, as you might expect, but it’s actually the 30.”

The main takeaway for Varan: “Really, we’re talking about a portfolio, where different types of ad units that are going to be delivering different kinds of experiences.”

Sourced from WARC