With viewer attention at an all-time low and the increasing dominance of mobile as the device of choice, the appetite for short-form, mobile-friendly ads has never been bigger.
But for brands trying to reach their audiences on mobile devices, chopping down the length of their creatives to 6 seconds poses a number of difficult challenges.
The biggest of which is how do you tell a story in only six seconds? Ernest Hemingway famously managed it with six words, but how can AI help mobile marketers do the same with as many seconds?
After all, while consumers are almost twice as likely to watch a six-second ad until the end than a traditional 30-second ad, boosting marketers’ completion rates considerably, they are much less likely to be emotionally engaged.
Forty-one percent less emotionally engaged, to be exact, according to our research. Using Realeyes’ proprietary EmotionAll® (EA) score, which gives brands an instant snapshot of a video’s performance, we found that shorter formats on average generate an EA score of 3.6/10 on mobile devices compared to 5.1 for longer-form ads. So just how to brands get the best of both worlds?
As part of a project commissioned by global media platform Teads, we analysed 166 different pieces of 6-second creative from 75 brands to see how marketers can make more from less.
Using our face-reading Emotion AI tech, we measured the emotional reactions, attention and engagement levels of 12,000 consumers from around the world on mobile devices to see which creative devices and campaign choices had the most impact.
Here are our six tips:
1. Make It Simple by Using One Key Message
When it comes to 6-second ad formats, brevity is best. Fewer messages, fewer scene edits – that’s the way forward.
Ads with more than three messages attracted 19% less engagement, and 19% of viewers said they were confused by ads which used more than one message.
So, having one key message will result in higher engagement. Our research also found that 6-second ads which use multiple frames are 14% more likely to confuse audiences and 15% less likely to make them smile.
Ads which open with human faces and close-ups also attract higher engagement levels.
2. Create Ads Specifically for Shorter Format
Should you create creatives specifically for shorter formats? Or can you get away with chopping down longer ads into short snippets?
Well, our research found that ads created specifically for 6-second formats perform much better than cut-downs from longer TV ads.
That’s not to say that repurposing longer ads doesn’t work. Sure, if an ad has a narrative or a joke that is too difficult to chop down into six seconds, brands should consider keeping it long form.
Cutting a 30-second ad down to 6 seconds is more likely to be difficult to decipher, with cut-downs 42% more likely to cause confusion.
3. If You Want to Use A Cutdown – Test Your Ads Beforehand
If you want to chop down your longer creative into six seconds, don’t just hack away and hope for the best.
By testing your ads before launch using EmotionAI, brands can identify the scenes which are most likely to engage key audiences and get the message across. And in some cases, that can lead to even greater emotional engagement than the original creative.
For example, we tested an ad for watch brand IWC starring Hollywood actor Bradley Cooper called “The Road Less Travelled”. By using Realeyes’ facial recognition tech to identify the scenes which attracted the highest levels of emotion and attention, the brand could create three 6-second spots which all scored higher than the 15-second version of the creative.
4. For Sound On, Use Voiceover Rather Than Dialogue
What’s the best way to employ audio on your 6-second creatives? How do sound-on ads compare with sound-off ads on mobile? Well, the difference is actually fairly minimal. Ads with sound average attract 7% more attention and are 5% more likely to make people smile, but overall, they both average EA scores of 3.6 out of 10.
But the data does suggest there are ways to use audio to attract more engagement. When designing your creative for sound on, use voiceovers rather than dialogue.
Why? Because ads with voiceovers are 17% more likely to make people happy than those that don’t. Dialogue, on the other hand, is 25% more likely to cause confusion.
5. For Sound-Off, Avoid Subtitles
Of course, consumers are much more sensitive to sound while browsing the web on their mobile devices, so think carefully about using ads that are not dependent on sound.
Avoid subtitles, which lead to an 11% increase in disgust. Instead, use captions inside that are baked inside the creative.
We recommend testing both your creative with sound both on and off to see which performs better.
6. Include A CTA
You can only cram so much information into six seconds, so it makes sense to include a clear call-to-action so viewers can find out more if they want.
After all, with only six seconds to spare, you need to use the time to tease viewers into performing an action where they can get more details about a brand or campaign.
Surprisingly, only 16% of the 6-second ads we tested included a CTA, which when you consider almost half (46%) of viewers say they ‘wanted to know more’, seems like a glaring omission.