Micromedia has begun its steady climb to the throne of our hyper-stimulated society. Storytelling has been squashed into the span of a few seconds because that is all viewers care to handle at once. With new social media platforms accommodating this trend, what are the implications for advertisers?
This year will mark the first time that American adults will spend more time daily using digital media devices than watching TV.
Marketers no longer face the question of simply ensuring an advertisement sends a powerful message. They also must ensure their message is packaged correctly, and that it can be consumed on mobile devices. This changes the game for advertisers – With viewers unable to focus on anything for long, it raises the debate of what form of advertising content to create: long form content or short, micro content.
The rise of micromedia
With movies and bulk drops of television series like Netflix’s House of Cards or Orange is the New Black, some may argue that our attention spans are not fully immune to long form content. Yes, films or binge television marathons take up a long time, but even the interminable action sequences and story arcs cater to our short attention spans, unbeknownst to the audience.
Over the past 75 years, the average shot length, or ASL, in Hollywood films has dropped from over 10 seconds to about 4 seconds. This means that moviegoers are acclimated to a visual pace that is more than twice as fast as what entertained viewers in the 1930s.
But unlike ASL in movies and TV programs, ASL of a commercial has grown since the early days of programming. According to TNS Media Intelligence, the average length of each ad is around 30 seconds and occupied an average of 36% of a primetime hour in 2009. Compare this to the first televised advertisement that appeared in 1941 during a baseball game and lasted a mere 10 seconds. While ASL in films has been halved since the dawn of film, commercials have tripled in length since their debut.
Is it any wonder that marketers are struggling to capture the attention of their audience with lengthy TV commercials? The growing popularity of re-viewing experiences provided by DVRs and by platforms like Netflix and Hulu makes it increasingly apparent that media consumers want uninterrupted content, watched on their own terms, devoid of the lengthy ad spots prevalent on television today. Viewers are on a constant quest to reach their desired content without being reached by advertisers.
While shorter, 15-second commercials are indeed on the rise, increasing in number by more than 70% in the past five years according to Nielsen, ads of this length still only comprise about 34% of all national ads. Recent research from Nielsen reveals that when a 30-second commercial is optimized into a 15-second version, it is just as potent as the original 30-second commercial 90% of the time – and sometimes even more effective. Imagine the potential a commercial could have when actually created for a 15-second spot.
How micromedia can increase message recall
A study from Nielsen published this year shows that advertisements viewed online during full programs are more effective than those same exact ads shown on broadcast and cable during the same exact programs. Viewers had 100% higher message recall of the ads when viewed online. How can such a huge improvement in recall be possible?
Online viewing typically only shows one 30-second ad in between each segment of the show, and often repeats the same ad in between each segment as well. Viewers are much more likely to stay put through the duration of a single advertisement because they know exactly how many seconds it will be until the show is playing again—and they are much more likely to recall the content of that ad when they have seen it repeated several times over the duration of the show.
Similarly, think of Vine videos—a mere 6 seconds long. They are so short, in fact, that most people do not watch a Vine video only one time, but they will watch the Vine 3 times on average. This repetition helps viewers more effectively digest and recall the content of the clip, a very attractive user behavior for marketers. Instagram’s 15-second videos offer similar benefits to marketers by creating the same opportunity to optimize on the repetition that these shorter content pieces are likely to receive.
The rise of original online programming augments this trend
Companies like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and Google launching forays into original online programming in recent years has created an additional incentive and traffic driver to these video streaming platforms for viewers. These forays create more online ad inventory than was previously offered, and with series like Netflix’s House of Cards showing strong early popularity, marketers may be able to capitalize on the effectiveness of these ads for many new original online programs.
So, with the rise of micromedia, it is important to consider the amount of time your marketing story needs as well as the best placement for that story to optimize the content for repetition and repeat play.
Trey Nordone August 14, 2013 – http://bit.ly/14uY2HK