Gone in 6 seconds

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A case for longer-length TV ads.

It was one year ago at this time when Fox introduced 6-second TV commercials to their NFL broadcasts. The buzz in the industry was all about going shorter. Shorter ads make for a better viewer experience. Shorter ads work with our fleeting attention spans. Shorter ads connect with the YouTube generation.

Like many trends in the ad industry, I have frequently found that doing the exact opposite is more effective. And so have our clients. While shorter ads have their purpose, we are airing more longer length commercials (:60’s, :90’s and :120’s) today than Al Eicoff could have ever imagined. And there’s a reason for it. Well, five reasons actually.

1. Dominate the break. Would you prefer to be one of four 30-second spots that air during a commercial break or to own the entire two minutes? We live in a world of clutter; we’re bombarded with messages on all of our devices all of the time. Dominating the commercial break is one way to cut through it all. Stand out. Be remembered. Get results.

2. Greater call to action. To motivate a website visit, a phone call, or even a direct sale, a longer spot brings the advantage of more time for a viewer to remember the proper response information, like a website name or phone number. A stronger call to action can also really help drive more digital traffic. Online retailers may look to add in that special “get it now” offer or savings code. Insurance or financial service companies may devote time to showcasing the functionality, ease of use and helpfulness of their website. And seasonally-driven brands can rotate in new, compelling messages throughout the year. When you want someone to act now, don’t short-change the CTA.

3. Meet more objectives. For many companies, a lot of different marketing objectives exist. One business unit may be in charge of driving sales. Another may be dedicated to elevating the brand. What often happens is the branding sector builds one set of creative and the ROI-focused folks go down a separate path. With longer TV spots, you can integrate both the objective of “elevating the brand” and “driving sales.” You have time to make viewers feel something. And sell to them. Now, this is not just about killing two birds with one stone. It’s about being efficient with your marketing dollars and getting more from your media spend. Build the brand and drive sales – all in one spot.

4. Making an introduction. Whether you’re launching a new product, a new service within your brand or an entirely new company, the more time you have to pitch yourself to viewers, the better. For a launch, you may think it’s all about “awareness.” And you’d be right. However, “understanding” is extremely important, too. If consumers know your name, but don’t comprehend what you offer or do, turning a sale will be a challenge. TV in any form is going to get you awareness. Combine that with understanding your sales proposition and you’re putting yourself in a better position for success.

5. More of your story. If you’ve got something to say, and chances are you do, a longer spot will deliver the time you need. This is particularly helpful for products that could use extra explanation, complicated categories that can’t possibly be understood in 30 seconds and anything else that has an abundance of consumer benefits to share. The extra time also gives viewers a greater sense of who you are. This can build a better connection to your brand. If you want viewers to fully understand what you’re selling, instead of taking away one or two main points, more time can make that happen.

The question I am asked most frequently is, “Aren’t longer length commercials more expensive?” If your goal is to drive the most responses for the least amount of money, the data demonstrates longer length commercials are more cost-effective than shorter spots.

Selling is hard. I don’t care if you’re a door-to-door salesperson or a cutting edge digital marketer. To make the sale, the customer has to keep the door open long enough for you to deliver an effective pitch. Time is your ally, and the more you have, the more sales you’ll make.