Six-second ads can heighten their impact by referencing campaigns, assets and characters that are associated with a brand, a study published by the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR) has found.

Colin Campbell (University of San Diego) and Erin Pearson (University of East Anglia) discussed this subject in a paper entitled, Strategies for more effective six-second video advertisements: Making the most of 144 frames.

“More successful six-second advertisements draw heavily on consumer knowledge of a brand to tell their stories,” they reported.

“This includes featuring known characters, referencing previous advertising campaigns, or alluding to or mentioning brand information that viewers can be assumed to know.”

Such tactics, the study noted, can be impactful in advertising of any length, but are especially useful in short-form messaging, as they “become vital tools for rapid meaning creation”.

Another recommendation for marketers was to “harness the sociocultural context” to make quick connections. That approach is particularly useful “for unfamiliar brands that do not have richly developed brand histories”.

“More successful six-second advertisements make educated guesses about what audiences are likely to find familiar. Cues and prompts are then used to tell more complex and detailed messages,” the study said.

These conclusions were based on five data sources, including a sample of ads from distributor Unruly Media, and user-engagement rates from a sample of ads on a set of Facebook and YouTube pages.

A group of short-form ads from Instagram and Snapchat, and from a range of popular press articles, were also assessed to gain a broader understanding.

Interviews with ten advertising executives with experience of six-second advertising supplemented this information by providing a deeper view on impactful techniques and strategies.

When planning campaigns, the study found, the most successful short-form ads “tend to target goals early or late in the consumer decision-making journey such as awareness, initial consideration, or repurchase”.

Another valuable insight involved the ability to tell “more complex stories through a series of “atomized” six-second advertisements that together “constitute a larger message”.

That might be achieved, for instance, with a series of “interconnected but unsequenced” ads. “As this approach does not rely on sequential viewing, it is appropriate when only general targeting is available,” the study added.

Many six-second ads also “use simpler narratives or, in some cases, what might be considered no narrative at all”, primarily because of the need for brevity.

Sourced from WARC