Audio Advertisers: It’s Time To Make Spots Much Shorter

This was the headline: “Fox adopting YouTube’s Six Second Ad Format.”

“This is the first time that a broadcast television company has committed to the ad format, which YouTube introduced last year,” the companies said.

That means Fox TV will be airing six second spots across its platforms, including linear television.

And don’t think that this trend will stop there, folks.

At my hivio event last year I presented research which explicitly tested what consumers – listeners – wanted to hear from ad-supported audio platforms (you can watch the whole presentation here). We didn’t test six second spots, but we did test 5 second spots, 15 second spots, 2 second spots, longer spots, and other ad forms.

And the winner was 5 second spots.

But don’t take it from me, take it from the “Wizard of Ads,” Roy Williams:

Here’s what’s happening: I’m airing a 5-second ad every hour, 24 hours a day, for 365 days, on each station in a broadcast group in a major city. The result will be 51% reach (18+) with a weekly frequency of 10.4. This means that 51% of the total population in that region will hear one of my ads an average of 10.4 times each week, 52 weeks in a row.

And here are the benefits, as described by Roy:

  1. Reach is double what I used to get for the same money.
  2. Frequency is triple what I used to get for the same money.
  3. With a 10.4 weekly frequency, I can safely expect a listener to unconsciously “connect and combine” each of my brandable chunks, nuggets and factoids to create a coherent mental image much bigger than the information found in a single ad. In fact, I expect that within a few months a large percentage of that city will be able to recite meaningful amounts of information about my client.
  4. The 5-second format – combined with 12 new ads in rotation every 6 weeks – will allow me to dodge the audience burn-out bullet.

So you can read the tea leaves and see the future. You can take the advice of your listeners, of me, of Roy Williams, of Fox Television, of YouTube.

Or you could keep selling (or buying) those :30’s and, God forbid, :60’s with a relentless, nostalgic zeal.

And this message is not just for radio. It’s also meant for you, podcast companies with overlong endorsements (i.e., all of you). If you don’t want listeners to skip your ads how about creating spots that are more trouble to skip than to hear? How about creating spots that are more trouble to skip than to hear? Click To Tweet

Get ready to have your world rocked when Apple data reveals just how little of your spots your listeners are hearing….

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  • thegreatonymariani

    Mark I am still not convinced short is better. I read your research to support your argument. I just don’t necessarily trust data because it can be skewed to whatever you want it to say in how you ask the questions. I am a HUGE Roy Williams fan and have subscribed to his Monday Morning Memo for years along with buying his books. I find him brilliant especially when it comes to the creative he and his team write for their clients. But keep in mind this is an experiment. And Roy also said, “I’m concerned about those who will agree and then attempt it – and fail. I believe they’ll fail because they won’t do it right.” The message I as a reader get from that quote is copycats will be using tactics with no strategy. And its possible Roy could be wrong! I am still a firm believer that if your creative sucks it doesn’t matter what length the ads. Looking forward to the results of Roy/’s experiment.

  • Well my data was from the perspective of the consumer. And so is YouTube’s. And so is Fox’s. Ask around. Ask anybody in passing. As your barista. Ask your Uber driver. See what they say. 🙂

  • thegreatonymariani

    I wouldn’t mind seeing the questions asked.

  • If you watch the video I believe I spell it out there.

  • thegreatonymariani

    Mark You reference You Tube and that viewers would put up with 15 seconds ads. And that ads shared ads are much longer in the 3 minute plus! Why is that? Because they are actually good you said! There is your answer. Make ads GOOD not filled with platitudes and best this best that and they will produce results. We are just going to have to agree to disagree on this one Mark.

  • Sure, I get that. But the very same YouTube that tells us people are sharing the long ads is also making its money off of spots 15 seconds at a time. So there’s a message there! And maybe it’s that what people share and what advertisers buy are not the same thing 😉

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