Marketers Think the 6-Second Pre-Roll Spot Is the Best Digital Video Ad Format

81% of survey respondents find them effective

A report by Adweek and GumGum found 6-second ads may be the solution for digital media marketers.

It’s no secret that internet users aren’t a fan of pre-roll ads, but according to a recent study by Adweek and AI company GumGum, marketers may have a solution: six-second spots. The report surveyed 305 brand marketers and agencies and found that they think the shorter format is the most effective digital ad type.

Respondents said the unskippable six-second pre-rolls, as well as interactive/shoppable videos are tops among effectiveness by 10 percentage points. Unskippable six-second pre-rolls are seen as 27 percent very effective and 54 percent effective, while the interactive videos were deemed 29 percent very effective and 52 percent effective.

Marketers said the three biggest challenges digital video advertising faces are annoyed viewers (55 percent), ineffective creative (46 percent) and ad skipping (43 percent).

“We’ve seen greater ad tolerance on TV than with digital, so with issues around viewer annoyance and ad skipping, depending on how you interpret that, it could have to do with ad length, but also ad relevance,” said Ben Tatta, president and co-founder of data company 605. “Marketers like pre-roll because it’s a captive unit, the content is less likely to get lost inside a pod and there’s higher completion rates.”

Ad completion rates are better for six-second spots, but that may be a product of the short length and not because viewers are watching and engaging with the whole ad, explained Tatta.

Currently the majority of advertisers are using 15- and 30-second ads (84 percent for both), while 53 percent use six-second ads. However, the data suggests in two years, 77 percent will use six-second ads, 81 percent will use 15-second ads and only 59 percent will deploy ads as long as 30 seconds.

Sixty-two percent of respondents believe ads less than 10 seconds in length are ideal for pre-roll and 30 percent opt for 11 to 20 seconds. However, 41 percent believe 11 to 20 second ads are preferable for all formats, while only 36 percent choose shorter ads.

“Based on campaigns we’ve run looking at ad engagement levels for 15 seconds versus 60 seconds, ad engagement really varies based on context more than length,” Tatta said. “There can be more engagement with longer ads that are relevant than short-form generic ads. Short-form content also needs short spots, and short spots resonate much better with younger people.” 

All in all, the unskippable six-second pre-rolls and interactive/shoppable videos win out by at least 10 percentage points. Unskippable six-second pre-rolls are seen as 27 percent very effective and 54 percent effective, while the interactive videos were deemed 29 percent very effective and 52 percent effective.

“With lower ad tolerance online and over-saturation, this report appears directionally correct,” said Tatta. “However, more data is needed around brand recall to really know what the biggest issues actually are facing digital videos.” 

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