Are Five-Second Digital Ad Spots the Next Big Thing in Marketing?

One of the biggest trends infiltrating the digital advertising industry is the adoption of five-second ad spots, otherwise known as blink ads due to their quick appearance. These are usually played prior to YouTube videos when consumers are given five seconds to view an ad and then are given the option of either moving forward or clicking the skip button to watch the content. 

The five-second ad spots aren’t just relegated to YouTube, but they have also entered the conventional media business, too. It was reported earlier this month that Bell Media would be producing a new product called 5on5, a service that offers five-second spots throughout five different media outlets, including radio and television. 

Advertising professionals have begun to embrace this form of marketing because of the shrinking attention spans of the consumer base, particularly with millennials, an age demographic that has become accustomed to 140 characters and eight-second messages. 

In addition, it is explained that five-second spots take advantage of the short-term ad stimulus that encourages impulse consumption for products that are only available for a limited amount of time. 

Although this has been an interesting development in the industry, there are skeptics who think it’s too limited to get the company’s message across, whether it’s for a motion picture, a non-profit initiative or a shampoo. However, in order to combat PVRs, something needs to be done. 

In order to attempt to fight the urge to skip through commercials, famous global brands have already implemented five-second spots. Honda released a mini-commercial in 2006 that highlighted features of its then-new Fit hatchback, which was then followed by a computer-type voice saying: "The Fit is Go." 

"[Consumers] are bombarded with messages on a daily basis ... (so) we were looking for ways to use our medium that were fresh and of interest," said Jim Cook, head of Clear Channel’s creative group, in an interview with USA Today. "Shorter lengths are the way so many things are being consumed today in an over-communicated world."  

Those who have questioned this latest advertising scheme purport that consumers need more than just five seconds to understand what something is. This is where creativeness comes in. 

During the YouTube pre-roll, many content creators urge users not to click the button. For instance, one YouTube ad informed the individual that if they click the skip button then a puppy will be electrocuted, but when the consumer continued to view the ad then the dog’s life was saved and they were congratulated. 

If executed correctly then this type of marketing could prove successful. Five-second ads could hint at promotions if they continue watching the ad, provide quick bursts of information or generate buzz through something unique that will have people talking and publications writing. 

Industry leaders also see the five-second spot becoming big business. Arik Czerniak, chief executive of Metacafe, has said that 150 million monthly video impressions with five-second ads at a cost of $10 per thousand delivered randomly could generate approximately $2.5 million a month. That is indeed a spicy meatball. 

It may be hard to fathom the idea of five-second ad blitzes - engagement, content, budgets and time - but it is possible when consumers simply become accustomed to the idea. Heck, they may even appreciate the fact that brands aren’t wasting their time with endless banter, unfunny situations and constant eye candy. 

Here is what Simon Dell of Marketing Magazine wrote last year: 

"When Twitter arrived on the scene many users, advertisers and brands thought the 140-character format might be too restrictive to successfully communicate engaging messages with. That’s not proved to be the case. The five-second advert will be the same. People will struggle to understand how to make the most of it at first, but eventually creative story-led communication will win the day." 

What’s next one-second ads? Yep. 

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