Now Advertisers Only Need Six Seconds of Your Time

August 24, 2017, 3:17 AM UTC

Our attention-spans have never been lower, and the data would suggest that you’re unlikely to get to the bottom of even this article. Since Vine made its somewhat unexpected departure, there has been a hyper-niche gap in the market for six second media engagements, and brands are hopping on the train quicker than you can say attention deficit disorder.

Google (GOOG) have led the way in a form of advertising that will no doubt strike a cord with millennials and Generation Z, targeting consumers with a format YouTube calls ‘bumper ads’. BBDO and Droga5 list as creative agencies participating in the move to cater to the average attention span which is now clocked at around eight seconds. Breaking the news via activations at the Sundance festival earlier this year, attendees were able to explore 10 of the six-second films—five of which had been produced by up-and-coming filmmakers and the additional five from creative agencies—at the YouTube House within the festival. The entries ranged from a quick hit of Vine-like comedy, compelling single statements to something that resembled more of a serial. Sundance festival was the ideal grounds to test this product, says Sadie Thoma, Google’s Head of Creative Agency Partnerships, who told Fast Company “we see different ways that filmmakers are telling stories, we feel like we’re doing that alongside them–whether it’s six-second ads, virtual reality, or something else.”

While it might appear ominous that six seconds of content are all our brains seem capable of comprehending in 2017, the framing of the format has been likened to the way a haiku is categorized in poetry. Haikus are specifically formatted with the intent to spark a connection or engagement in a surprising, high intensity way. The six-second might be the digital equivalent to this, and in the same way a haiku isn’t supposed to be a terzanelle, the six second ad isn’t supposed to run as former media required for television etc., but create a new course of storytelling. Particularly for the increasingly-mobile world.

Fox (FOX) revealed in June it too was bought into the six-second format, and Facebook (FB) followed suit, announcing intentions to refine six-second ads and roll them out for the second-quarter earnings call. Ironically, the medium might actually force a type of focus that might allude longer form digital advertising, and for that reason holds high potential. In an Adweek interview, Maud Deitch who was formerly YouTube hackathon alumni and now works with Instagram’s creative department, spoke highly of the spot, stating “I think it’s one of the most important ad formats—if not the most important ad format—that we are going to see more of.”

And she seems to be right–a recent Google commissioned study found nine out of 10 ads drove recall and 61% drive brand awareness. Even Michelin have joined the buzz around snackable content (though this time focused on tyres and not the dining guide, even if the latter might have been more fitting). Though they subsided for a time, six-second videos seems to be back with full velocity, and industry players predict a true traction by 2018.

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