New Delhi: Quick service restaurant chain KFC India has recently executed a campaign to promote its Triple Treat combo priced at 499. Unlike the standard 30-second television spot or a minute-long digital film, the ad is merely a six-second long pre-roll (an ad appearing before a video) on YouTube. A relatively new format, six-second video ads being run on digital platforms cannot be skipped. Since these ads are short and deliver a single message, they tend to do well, especially on a mobile screen where viewers have a low attention span. Brands across categories are increasingly looking at these ads on digital platforms such as YouTube and Twitter to engage and service young consumers who spend most of their time on smartphones.

“Six second ads work brilliantly for a brand like ours that largely caters to millennials, from a ‘share-ability’ and virality point of view," said Lluís Ruiz Ribot, chief marketing officer, KFC India. The short format ads, Ribot added, tend to have a low cost per view; the average completion rate is higher and the engagement rates are better.

Like KFC, automobile brand Nissan Motors India also leveraged the six second ad format both on YouTube as well as micro blogging platform Twitter during the ICC Champions Trophy this year. “The ICC Champions Trophy 2017 became a huge success for us with a record viewership. With the creative and engaging six-second video ad format by Nissan during the tournament managed to maximize its reach like never before. The short video ad format has also resulted in higher views for our commercials during the tournament," said Arun Malhotra, managing director, Nissan India.

Such innovative ad formats on digital are crucial since an increasing smartphone user base and affordable data is driving consumers’ interest on the mobile medium where they tend to consumer video content. According to a report by IPG Mediabrands-owned agency Magna, mobile is driving digital ad spends in India which are expected to touch the 10, 227-crore mark in 2017.

“I believe that the six second non-skippable advertising format is a disruptive innovation and sharply draws marketer focus to the importance of being hyper targeted and relevant in their communication," said Shantanu Sirohi, chief operating officer, Interactive Avenues, IPG Group owned digital marketing agency who believes that brands will spend close to 5% of their digital markets budgets on this new format.

Most recently brands like Air Asia, Kitkat, online grocery platform Grofers and ICICI Bank have witnessed significant user traction on six second long campaigns which help them to create awareness, top-of-mind recall and promote offers. Brands are leveraging the format because viewers tend to find ads on digital platforms as a major irritant and tend to switch tabs if an ad goes on beyond 10-seconds.

“The user’s patience levels are drastically lower on mobile and it is ironical because their attention on the medium is quite higher because unlike cinema or television, mobile is a far intimate screen. Our internal research which showed that the six-second length is more acceptable to the user," noted Guneet Singh, head of marketing solutions, Google India. Google launched the six-second long format called Bumper ads on YouTube in April last year. It claims to have been working with some of the biggest advertisers like Hindustan Unilever Limited, telecom firm Airtel, real estate developer Lodha Group and automobile company Maruti Suzuki among others. The cost of production of a bumper ad ranges between 20,000 and 5,00,000, which is lower than a digital or television campaign.

Apart from length, the tactical placement of short video ads also creates a big difference on a platform like Twitter said Taranjeet Singh, country director, Twitter India. “When a native video ad for a new beverage runs in front of video content of foodies, it leads to higher brand impact resulting in higher ad recall leading to higher purchase intent and relevance of the brand," he said.

Digital agencies are working extensively to help brands hyper target the consumers by delivering singular message. “Of late there is over 50% more demand of such snackable video inventory with respect to the normal video inventory which are typically pre-roll," said Ahmed Aftab Naqvi, chief executive, Gozoop, an independent digital marketing agency.

However, the biggest challenge with short ad formats is to ensure that marketers understand the format well and do not bombard consumers with multiple messages. Advertising experts believe that six-second ads are not going to replace the 30-second spots on digital. “Skippable ads can tell a brand story where as bumper ads will drive quick action and intent. Both are likely to co-exist. I believe, it is non-skippable 30 second ad format that is likely to retire," said Interactive Avenues’ Shantanu Sirohi.

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