Just like the current trend in creating six-second TV spots, this will be brief.
Everyone’s heard about six-second ads. OK. They make sense—to a degree. I get it. The TV networks can sell more ads in a 30 second pod. It’s a way to maximize time, and there’s a justifiable argument for it—consumers online don’t watch content longer that 10 seconds. Those annoying lead-in ads on YouTube only get five seconds of play. Our world has a shortened attention span, probably brought on by millennials.
But I believe there’s another reason why no one watches more than five seconds of TV or video ads. Maybe, just maybe, it’s because the ads stink. There, I said it. In my opinion, the vast majority of video ads are terrible. Not interesting. Not engaging. Not clever. Not informative. Not entertaining. (I actually wanted to say that 99 percent of all advertising is crap, but my PR guy wouldn’t let me.)
The cynics out there will no doubt push back and indict me for being an old geezer dribbling on and on and offering nothing more than a clichéd argument that everyone’s heard before. Maybe so.
But let me ask you this: Why is it that we won’t watch more than a few seconds of an ad but will gladly spend six hours a night binge-watching "Broadchurch"—and still want more? (By the way, season two is much better than season one).
It’s not impossible to make ads that are just as rewarding as our favorite long-form entertainment programs. The Super Bowl is a good example. As a society, we watch those ads and talk about them as much as we talk about the game itself. Maybe more. Why? Because they’re good. They reward us for watching them. They’re fun. They’re entertaining. They’re interesting. They’re well made.
And that is precisely my point. It’s not about length—it’s about quality. It’s about professionalism. It’s about caring enough to do the very best work we can possibly do. We have to make sure we reward the viewer. It doesn’t matter if it’s six seconds, 30 seconds, one minute, 60 minutes or two hours. There must be a carrot at the end of the stick.
Are you still reading? Just checking. Someone once told me nobody reads articles longer than 250 words. This one clocks in at 401. Hope I didn’t overstay my welcome.
Matt Smith is Founder-CEO of US ad agency SmithGifford, which has offices in Philadelphia and Washington, DC.