When I joined the agency world, Joseph Jaffe had just come out with Life After The 30-Second Spot but I doubt Jaffe realized that the new spot, if digital media has its way, is 6 or 15 seconds.
I came across an article recently on NPR about how Vine conceived the 6 second spot and it’s pretty much what you would expect:
“One day we did wake up and say, six seconds,” Hofmann joked. Well, one day after many days of experimentation.
He and the other co-founders tried various lengths — 10 seconds, nine, five. And five seconds wasn’t long enough.
“It was actually too short,” he says. Six seconds allowed for the aesthetic feel the creators wanted but preserved the quickness they wanted to promise users. The limit allowed the average person to easily share and make a video on his smartphone.
With 15 seconds of video on Instagram and 6 seconds of video on Vine, it’s at least 50% less length than a traditional 30 second spot. These shorter videos are a near-perfect snack for consumer generated content. Anyone with a smartphone can create and upload a fun clip and syndicate it out to Twitter/Vine and Facebook/Instagram with ease… and instant audience attention.
After spending time with entrepreneurs who are building everything from video servers for social media to creative directors executing multi-screen video briefs from Fortune 500 clients, one question that I have been thinking about is whether brands at scale will really start creating professionally produced shorter form content? If an Instagram video is [at max] 15 seconds, then a pre-roll* for the platform must be no longer than 10 seconds to make sense. Imagine a 3 second pre-roll. Can you storytell in 3 seconds?
You might not have a choice.
In advertising, dollars flow to where eyeballs go. There’s a bit more to that but if eyeballs are heading to Twitter and Facebook at scale, which they are, then brands and their respective agencies need to understand how to leverage these platforms for communicating and interacting with their audiences.
Retooling the creative brief, process and craft to deliver more punch in less time is going to be completely necessary. It’s going to be interesting to watch how Twitter interacts with brands and how much of the creative process they bring in-house versus relying on their ecosystem partners.
Anytime you are on the cutting edge of innovation, you need to offer services and support to your clients to onramp them to execute on the edge. Twitter did this in the very beginning with celebrities, basically offering a VIP management team to help increase the Tweets coming from celebrity influencers. Think of this as a form of managed services.
This next evolution of video in digital media is going to be really fascinating to participate in. Will Costolo and Zuckerberg force the redefinition of the 30-second spot?
* Preroll: I used preroll video as an example of how advertisers are surrounding video content online. Very similar to a commercial on television. I am not arguing that preroll is the most effective way of doing video advertising, but rather, using it because it’s the most scaled way of doing video advertising.