What Can You Do With 15 Seconds?

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By Jason Brandt (@Jasondmg3)

In this recent Ad Age article, author and editor-at-large Jack Neff discusses new reseach showing that 30-second television commercials are declining in popularity in favor of half-sized 15-second increments. He goes on to specify that while there was a small increase in all national 15-second TV spots – so overall, short ads are getting more common – the increase for those advertising over-the-counter drugs was huge.

Fifteen-second commercials now make up the majority of all OTC TV ads. What this means for our attention spans, I shudder to think, but Im sure there are studies underway right now. More immediately, you need to think about these type of ads and what they constitute for you as an advertising option.

What can you do with 15 seconds?

Not keep your market share, apparently.

OTC products are giving up share to store brands like never before, and while of course there are recessions and recalls contributing to this, the ads certainly dont seem to be helping.

The Ad Age article points out that ad effectiveness is shown to be much lower for the half-sized commercials in general – and the loss of effectiveness is even worse for OTC than for other categories.

And of course it is. Half as much time to get a viewer accustomed to the brand, to communicate its benefits: how could it be as effective? As one quote says, “If it devolves simply into reminder advertising, youre not building brands.

Most office telephones have timers on them. Have you ever noticed how long your average voicemail message is? Its a lot longer than 15 seconds, Im willing to bet. It just takes time to convincingly communicate what youd like someone to do and why they should do it.

The cost of television advertising is, of course, the main reason that the commercial sizes are shrinking. Televisions reach is undeniable, so many people think “better a little than nothing at all.”

But you have to think of your ROI equations like see-saws, comparing different options on each side. It cant just be reach that defines how heavy you expect the impact of each side to be. Its reach plus retention plus motivation.

And when TV can get you all that in your budget, it can be a wonderful thing. But are your audiences online? Are they gathering together in focused areas? Are they networking and sharing information? More often than not, the answer to all those questions is “yes. You have more alternatives than you think.

So, what can you do with 15 seconds?

Well, heres one idea. You can pick up the phone and talk to experts like us about what compelling digital offerings you could be coming up with, instead of forgettable TV snippets.

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