The growing popularity of platforms like TikTok highlights the need for marketers to master the short-form video format – a task which necessitates balancing the higher completion rates they can achieve with the lower emotional engagement that such formats typically deliver.

In a WARC Best Practice paper – How to make short-form video resonate – Mihkel Jäätma, CEO of emotion tech company Realeyes, explains that consumers are almost twice as likely to watch a six-second ad until the end as they are a traditional 30-second ad.

And while this boosts marketers’ completion rates considerably, consumers are much less likely to be emotionally engaged – forty-one percent less emotionally engaged, according to Realeyes’ research.

This used webcams to measure the facial expressions, body language and head movements of consumers as they watched ads to assess how they felt, while AI helped evaluate and score emotional engagement.

The results were then compared to Realeyes’ database, which includes more than 54 billion data points from over 25,000 videos released over the last decade. This exercise surfaced a number of best practices, some intuitive, some not.

Among the former: use shorter formats for younger, mobile-only audiences. On average, mobile audiences were 26% more attentive than those viewers watching on their laptops and desktop devices.

“This could be crucial at a time when attention spans online have never been shorter,” Jäätma notes.

Younger audiences were also found to be more engaged with shorter formats. An analysis of responses to 30 Snapchat ads of less than 10-second duration across different categories found that happiness and overall engagement levels were higher among people under the age of 30.

Less obvious perhaps is the need to be upfront with branding. Advertisers are concerned that by making their brand highly visible from the start they will put people off the content instantly, but this isn’t the case, says Jäätma.

“Our research suggests that using brand elements from the start does not have a significant impact on attention levels or emotional engagement.”

But be sure to have clear branding at the end, he advises. “In a six-second spot, this leads to an 8% increase in viewers wanting to know more. Pack shots are particularly effective, leading to an average increase in happiness of 19%.”

Sourced from WARC