The New Brevity Of Online Video

In an age of binge TV-watching, 10-second Snapchat stories and people watching 50 screens at once, it seems that humans want everything, immediately. In response, advertisers are shrinking their video content so that before you’ve decided you don’t want to watch it, it’s already finished.

If you’ve ever come across Hemingway’s ‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn’, you’ll know that it is possible to create an emotional story in just 6 words. Now, the challenge is to do the same – in 6 seconds.

What if we were to give you one bite of chocolate cake, and then tell you that’s all you were getting. You’d want more, right? Well, the same applies to video. See a tiny snippet of story, and you want more. Our brains are conditioned to hunt for signs of a narrative, whether we like it or not. That’s why 6 second videos, championed originally by the late Vine platform, are becoming a popular way for brands to leave viewers wanting more. Unsatisfying and sometimes with no closure, the micro-video format plays on your need to find meaning in things, and happens so fast that it gets a message across before you can hit ‘skip’.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg explained how drinks brand Tropicana have seen popularity swing towards shorter form adverts, as they trialled 6, 15 and 30 second videos – with the shortest version receiving the highest levels of engagement. If you can’t quite grasp how you can fit an entire advert into 6 seconds, here is Old Spice’s #SmellLegendary promo, which is a tiny 5 seconds long and delivers the message with perfect efficiency:

While company CEOs are freaking out at the thought of consolidating their entire brand book into a 6-second prison cell, creatives around the globe are invigorated at the challenge to create a message that transcends time and gives the viewer a single, hard punch.

Without boundaries we have nothing to push, and so this new idea of working a full creative brief into a space that feels claustrophobic will separate the men from the boys – and if you can’t do it yourself, that’s what we’re here for.

We’ve grown up with 30 seconds being the unspoken rule of length for adverts, and who are we to question such an established tradition? We’re the future, that’s who.

With our 21st century impatience comes a resentfulness to brands who insist on paying advertising money for an eternal, unskippable 30 second piece all about themselves. In answer to your frustrations, in 2018 YouTube will be scrapping 30 second adverts that can’t be skipped, in favour of their new 6-second bumper adverts which were launched earlier this year. This will force brands to create more concise, engaging and creative pieces, to make a user experience which is far less soul destroying.

To start planning your own video marketing strategy, or even if you just want some advice, please get in touch.

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