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Pandora Exec Says 8 Seconds Could Be the Sweet Spot for Mobile Video

But do brands want to create for yet another format?

Pandora's sponsored videos could be getting shorter.

Instagram locks advertisers in to the 15-second social video ad, while Vine requires them to build six-second clips. As just about every platform and publisher pushes brands to run shorter videos that grab consumers' attention, Pandora's chief revenue officer John Trimble said he thinks eight-second promos could be mobile video's silver bullet.

Late last year, Pandora rolled out Sponsored Listening, an ad format that lets consumers listen to one hour of ad-free music in exchange for watching a short video promo. Bud Light, Fox and Sony PlayStation have all tested the format since then.

Currently, those pre-roll videos are at least 15 seconds and can run up to two-and-a-half minutes. But it's no surprise that getting people to pay attention for even 15 seconds is tough, causing Trimble to make the case for eight-second preroll. The idea is that an eight-second ad is a nice balance between the length of a six-second Vine and a 10-second video.

"As the competition for consumers' attention heats up, we're focused on developing ad products that are good for both advertisers and listeners—Sponsored Listening is a great example of that," Trimble said. "Our video advertising product has performed well thus far, and we are exploring various video formats on an ongoing basis. Looking ahead, I could envision video and audio ads as short as eight seconds being something advertisers and listeners will be interested in."

Pandora said it doesn't have any immediate plans to start selling eight-second video or audio ads, but is considering it as a way to better target millennials and younger consumers.

Greg Manago, creative development and production lead for Mindshare's content and entertainment division, said he liked the idea of eight-second video as an alternative to Vine's six seconds. "It gives us another two seconds to work with," he said. "The trick with mobile is to be engaging quickly without being annoying. You need to be very creative at this length, but we love a good challenge."

Getting brands on board
Steve Carbone, managing director and head of digital and analytics at Mediacom agreed that snackable clips are needed on mobile, since some video ads are still sold as 30-second spots. He said that when consumers have a choice, they skip 50 percent of those longer ads halfway through.

That said, an eight-second cap could be a tough sell for brands that have already struggled to turn traditional 60- and 30-second ads—which they spent decades perfecting for TV—into shorter digital promos.

Plus, the growing fragmentation in how media companies sell video ads could make the eight-second video just one more headache for media buyers. Just last week, eMarketer cited more video options as a challenge that may hold back mobile spending. The research firm expects mobile video advertising to hit $2.6 billion this year.

"Most brands will struggle to tell a story in eight seconds, as they still think in a TV world," Carbone explained. "Eight seconds requires a different level of creativity and a huge shift in how you need to get your message out."

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