The micro video trend is here to stay: increased consumption of snack-sized content and the enduring popularity of short-form video platforms such as Vine and Instagram mean brands from McDonalds to M&S are using ultra short videos to get their messages across.

This trend is having an impact in the video advertising world, with short five or ten second micro ads becoming an increasingly popular alternative to the traditional 15-30 second slots.

With this in mind, YuMe and IPG Media Lab joined forces to research the effectiveness of different video ad lengths and determine the optimum duration by age group and device type.

So should brands abandon conventional video formats in favour of the micro trend – or is there still a place for longer video ads?

When short ads are all you need

Micro video ads of 15 seconds or less can be very effective for particular audiences, on specific devices and in certain circumstances. Millennials who have grown up with short-form video content respond better to micro ads than older generations and are more likely to find them enjoyable and of a high quality.

Micro video ads also work better on smaller devices, such as smartphones, where the video takes over the entire screen. Consumers have come to expect short-form content on mobile devices and they are particularly receptive to smartphone ads when they are on the move.

But how effective are micro ads at getting a brand message across? To some extent, very short micro ads do work in the sense they can drive home a message and convey brand imagery, but if an ad is to be truly persuasive, a minimum of 15 seconds is required. This means micro ads are best used as a quick reminder of established brands, driving top-of-mind awareness, rather than as a means for delivering a new or complex message.

When using micro video ads, certain creative best practices are required to maximise effectiveness. Using a voiceover, for example, helps make an ad more memorable over just including music. For maximum impact, micro ads should be served alongside short-form video content where we found short ads plus short content on small screens was most effective.

When longer ads prove their worth

While short ads might be well suited to established brands looking to reach millennials on their smartphones with a concise and impactful message, longer ads have plenty of benefits that make them suitable in other circumstances.

Longer video ad formats are more effective than micro ads on larger screens, such as PCs and tablets, as well as where viewers are watching video content in excess of three minutes. They also provide more time to deliver a message and are ideal for introducing new brands. Longer ads should be used when a complicated message must be delivered or in-depth information needs to be communicated.

As previously mentioned, a minimum of 15 seconds is required to impact persuasion metrics but longer video ads can be significantly more effective. Brand favourability and purchase intent, for example, increase 12 per cent and 13 per cent respectively with a 45-60 second ad, compared with just 4 per cent for a 15 second ad. But this must be balanced with potential lower completion rates for longer videos.

Overall viewers across all age groups perceive longer ads to be of higher quality and more enjoyable than shorter micro ads, while most would prefer to watch one long ad with a developed story than a series of shorter ads. Creative best practises to maximise the impact of longer ads include enticing the viewer with an early hook before they have the option to skip the ad.

Different ad lengths perform differently – both new micro ads formats and more traditional longer ads have an important place in the media mix. Although 15 seconds is the sweet spot as the shortest amount of time to make an impact on persuasion metrics, there isn't a one-size-fits-all best practice in the video ecosystem, so developing a creative length strategy is a must.

Brands must take into account the age of their audience, brand tenure, brand goals and device when determining the optimum video ad length, employing suitable creative best practises to ensure maxi (or micro) performance.


By Paul Neto, Senior Research Director, YuMe

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