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Different lengths of film each represent a different commercial format.

TV-Style Commercial Format: Are Longer Lengths Here to Stay?

November 17th, 2016   ||    by Charlene Weisler   ||    No Comments

There has been some discussion recently at a range of media conferences regarding commercial format and the evolution of the advertising message. What is the most effective ad length and type in this fragmented, device-driven programming environment? Are 30-second spots on the way out? Or does our ability to target audiences more effectively and programmatically require a consistent message across all platforms? There are two sides to this discussion: While shorter may be better for platforms with smaller screens, longer may be preferable in terms of effectively getting a message out.

Is There a Future for TV-Length Spots?

Although the 6-second content provider Vine is no longer around, today’s media environment still begs the question: Is there a future for TV-length spots—such as 30 seconds—at a time when content is becoming snackably short? For some, the answer is no. But for others, not only is the 30-second commercial format alive and well, it’s perfectly poised to transcend platforms, drive engagement, offer consistency, and improve reach and frequency for messages.

They’re Here to Stay

John Roland, CEO at Extreme Reach, wrote recently in AdExchanger, “We are blinded by brand-new ad formats despite an absence of data proving they perform any better than the models they seek to unseat. That’s why I see the tide turning back; the 15-second and 30-second spots are going to have a long life yet.”

Others are generally in agreement and more sanguine. According to Irwin Gottlieb, global chairman of GroupM, at the recent DPAA Video Everywhere Summit, “There are a number of issues. The granularity of data will help us to do more sophisticated segmentation so we can define the target audience and the message to that target audience. This will result in them paying more attention. But the form of message will evolve a bit. We have been getting better at shortening the message but I don’t think it is as engaging.” Better ad tech may enhance the ad’s message by providing an even more enriching experience for the viewer within any standard ad format. “Can we one day soon drop a coupon while you are watching an ad?” asks Gottlieb. “Sure,” he added.

Lengths May Still Vary By Platform

Some believe that commercial formats may vary by platform. Gary Reisman, CEO of LEAP Media Investments, states, “The whole notion of 30-second spots is old. But the use of video to promote brands and drive emotional attachment to those brands is critically important. The question is, where, when, and how long. It will most likely vary by consumer segment and we may want different lengths by platform.”

In fact, the trend may involve a combination of available digital lengths. According to Roland, digital companies now offer advertisers longer television ad lengths on digital platforms, up from several seconds. Facebook’s Premium Video Ads offers 15 and 30 seconds, as do Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. These ads can be measured against and combined with television campaigns to offer seamless comparisons.

Storytelling Wins Out

We may be looking at a standard 30-second spot to facilitate cross-platform measurement of campaigns and save money for advertisers who can avoid having to relay the same message in several lengths. As with any content, however, the true impact of an ad will not rest necessarily in its length, but in its ability to present compelling storytelling to a viewer who’s receptive to the content. That’s where programmatic’s targeting capabilities will excel.

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