Tuesday, 17 February 2015 22:00

Mixed feeling about shorter TV commercials

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TV commercials: do they need to be shorter to cut costs and stop viewers losing interest? TV commercials: do they need to be shorter to cut costs and stop viewers losing interest?

The number of 15-second TV commercials being flighted has increased by 80% since 2008, according to international research. Multinationals such as Proctor & Gamble (P&G) are now embracing the shorter format on the grounds that these are “cheaper and more effective than the traditional 30-second spots”.

More recently, social media giant Facebook also introduced 15-seconders for advertisers wishing to use video to engage with users on its platform.

But the South African advertising and marketing community is giving this new approach a mixed reception, according to industry experts interviewed by ‘Strategic Marketing’ magazine, the publication of the Institute of Marketing Management (IMM), for its February-March 2015 issue.

Johanna McDowell of the Independent Agency Search and Selection Company, which specialises in helping clients find suitable advertising agencies, believes there are two schools of thought. The first is that shorter, cut-down, versions are fine as long as the 30-second version has already been aired. The other is there is no problem in running 15-second campaigns as a matter of course.

Her view is that South Africa will see more of the latter as people seek to consume information at an ever-increasing pace. “The younger generation, especially, is used to skimming through content at a speed, particularly when they are searching the Web,” she says in an interview with the magazine.

The rapid increase in media fragmentation is also a possible game changer for TV commercials. The potentially lower cost of 15-seconders, both in terms of production and placement, could enable marketers to cost-effectively tap into a greater number of communication outlets – whether traditional television channels or social media and mobile outlets. “With so many channels for marketers to choose from today, it makes sense for a brand to communicate different messages across different channels,” McDowell notes.

But Tim Culley, Managing Director of ad agency TBWA/Hunt/Lascaris Cape Town, has not experienced demand from his clients for shorter commercials. “I am not seeing this as a trend – certainly my clients are not queuing up for 15-seconders, regardless of the communication channel involved,” he tells ‘Strategic Marketing’.

However, he does like the shorter version. “It is forcing the creative strategy back to concise messaging that must be clever and impactful. Even a 30-second TV commercial is pretty boring for most people these days.”

Chris Primos, Business Director of Blast Brand Catalysts, a branding, advertising and design agency, believes the 15-second approach could work when the message is short and sharp and is being used to achieve frequency. “Shorter is better for online or mobile, where people are clicking into an interest realm and are in charge of their own space,” he says. “Online advertisements need to be short so that they get the message across quickly and do not irritate the viewer.”

Jake Bester, Executive Creative Director at ad agency Machine, is bullish about what the 15-seconder could achieve and says it may lead to a new style of advertising. “A brand could produce a batch of 15-second commercials as teasers for special occasions such as Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. This format could be used tactically and with the versatility of online flighting,” he suggests.

Read 3336 times Last modified on Wednesday, 18 February 2015 07:39