By Jim Berridge

Traditional TV advertising is under threat. As the consumption habits of consumers continue to creep towards non-linear TV models, video on demand (VOD) and over the top (OTT), fewer people are watching TV in a traditional way, i.e. at the times programmes are aired, ad breaks and all.

So, how are brands and media owners trying to re-engage the public with advertising?

One solution is changing the format of advertising breaks from traditional 15 and 30-second spots to shorter-form ads (5-7 seconds long) to drive higher engagement levels and generate greater effectiveness for brands.

Well-utilized on social media, short-form ads on TV in North America has grown considerably over the past 18 months, according to the recent Phoenix Marketing International Brand Effect study. This sustained growth demonstrates that not only are brands becoming more familiar with the concept of short-form ads but so are media owners.

As brands start to become more familiar with the format, expect to see far more short-form ads on your TV over the next few years.

Short-form effectiveness
One question many skeptics have is how effective are short-form ads as compared to 15 and 30 second ads? The Phoenix Brand Effect study analyzed 100 short-form TV ads to understand their effectiveness. The study tested ad memorability in panelists’ natural environments 24 hours after they had been exposed to the ads. This was to understand both the impact and the resonance of specific ads.

These results were then compared to the historical results of longer-form ads within the Phoenix Brand Effect database (Brand Effect has analyzed over X number in the past X years). The comparison provided us with a way to analyze ad memorability (% of consumers able to remember the content) and brand linkage (% of consumers able to name the advertiser’s brand). When combined, these scores create the brand memorability metric (% of ad viewers able to remember the content and advertised brand).

A high brand memorability score is obviously the goal of any brand running adverts, so how do short- form ads score when compared to longer ad formats?

The result? Short-form ads are almost as effective at driving brand memorability as 15 and 30 second ads. Short-form ads achieved a score of 22% (the same as 60-second ads) while 15 and 30 second ads achieved a score of 24%.

These findings demonstrate the potential of short-form ads. The industry benchmark for brand memorability is 22%, which as we have seen short-form ads are already achieving. This suggests that while the media proliferation of short-form ads is not as strong as 15 and 30 second ads, this will only increase as they become more mainstream.

The results also put to rest the many fears of brands and industry executives that short-form ads are too short for consumers to truly remember advertised brands. Our study found that they performed just as well as 30-second ads, achieving a 56% brand linkage score, while 15-second ads are the best performing format, achieving 57% brand linkage.

Bottom line: short-form ads are not just holding their own against longer counterparts, but they are actually offering an alternative to the traditional 15 and 30 second ads.

What does the future hold?
Over the coming 12-18 months expect to see greater media spend on short-form ads. Many brands may start to experiment with them as an alternative way to drive customer engagement, or even as a way to differentiate themselves from the crowd on TV, just as they deployed them on social media.

There are opportunities for brands to use short-form ads as teaser campaigns for larger brand activations. Brands can use them to support wider marketing campaigns such as Super Bowl activity, running a series of teasers to help generate hype and conversation on social media platforms.

Short-form ads work best when running alongside longer formats, so this is a tactic that we expect to see over the next few years: utilizing them to start conversations between consumers and brands. Short-form ads will be used in conjunction with other marketing devices and longer formats rather than replacing them.

Consumers are already with the concept of short-form ads due to their prevalence as pre-rolls on social media as well as on YouTube and digital content platforms. The incorporation of short-form ads onto TV is a natural progression, consumers are used to short-form ads and interact with 100s of them weekly. However, while there is only one short-form ad before viewing digital content, the TV ad break is very different with a number of different brands advertising at the same time and competing for consumer attention.

Therefore, just as social media marketing and advertising has not replaced traditional outputs, neither will short-form ads. It will take some time for brands to experiment with the format and get to grips with the format —just as brands trialed on social media before finding the right formula—short-form ads will take some time to gain market traction. However, once brands do get the formula right, they will reap the benefits.

The early evidence suggests that short-form ads warrant a place at the table for any brand when discussing media plans for 2019. Some of the braver brands are already experimenting and these will be the ones that truly demonstrate the benefits.

Once those benefits are clear expect to see more traditional brands get on board as well.  For these reasons, we can definitively say that short-form ads are here to stay.

Jim Berridge is senior vice president, Marketing Performance, Phoenix Marketing International (www.phoenixmi.com).

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