NEW YORK: In the cluttered media world of the average consumer it can be difficult to achieve cut through, leading to a school of thought, across both traditional and digital media, that ‘less is more’ – for consumers and advertisers if not necessarily media owners.

Listing the efforts of some major broadcasters over recent months to cut ad loads, the Wall Street Journal concluded that “so far, there is no clear evidence of a financial payoff”.

At both Viacom and Turner, for example, the initial impact of reducing ad loads appears to have been negative: the former reported a 2% dip in ad sales in the second quarter while the latter acknowledged that increasing ad rates had not always offset having fewer ads.

“We had to eat some of this,” said Donna Speciale, president of Turner Ad Sales. “We were going to have to take a little bit of a hit.”

But if the network itself was suffering, advertisers seemed to fare better with research indicating lifts in brand awareness of between 30% and 39%.

Fox, meanwhile, reported booking 30% more revenue from advertising during the Teen Choice Awards that aired on Sunday, despite cutting commercial minutes by 20%.

That included income from the sale of new six-second spots, which Maud Deitch, a creative for Mother New York, recently described as “one of the most important ad formats – if not the most important ad format – that we are going to see more of”.

With Google and Facebook both committed to developing the format, that seems a fair bet, although ad load remains an issue: will viewers used to seeing, say, six 30-second ads be prepared to watch 30 six-second ads?

Recent research by the FreeWheel Council for Premium Video (FWC) studied the behavior of almost 3,000 viewers in order to understand how engagement and emotional reactions are impacted by different content and ad scenarios.

“Lower ad loads encourage higher engagement levels as users do not get fatigued or frustrated by frequent interruptions,” it said, “so the key is finding the appropriate level, which may be further determined by content lengths and screen size.”

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal, Adweek, FWC; additional content by WARC staff