The future of video - 6 seconds!


Video has become the primary focus of social media content - 70% of all content produced on social is video!  But now the question is, how to ensure people watch your content?

The answer appears to be to make videos that are no longer than 6 seconds… in the era of Snapchat and Instagram Stories, people want to have video that is super quick and easily absorbed, and industry experts are predicting 2018 will be the year of “snackable content”.

According to a recent article in AdWeek, ‘Let the upcoming fourth quarter (of 2017) be known as the incubator phase of the six-second video ad unit, a few industry players echoed in recent days. Next year, they say, it’s go time.’

Six seconds might seem extremely short, but if you think about it, you can see why: it’s about how long a recruiter looks at your resume, and the time people will wait roughly that long for a website to load before giving up.   As we consume more content, our attention span is becoming shorter.

If people are used to making important (and less important) decisions in that amount of time, then the potential of six seconds as advertising space starts to become clear.

Facebook has already been telling its video advertisers to hit people with faster messages.  According to Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, 6 seconds has emerged as an ideal ad length in a recent test conducted with Tropicana.

Tropicana compared the results from Facebook ads that were 6, 15 and 30 seconds long. The shortest saw "higher brand metrics across the board," Sandberg said.

Six-second ads are becoming a standard format in digital media, championed by YouTube and recently embraced by Fox on the Teens Choice 2017 broadcast, to combat consumers' ad avoidance… if you think about it, how often do you just wait for the “Skip Ad” to appear on YouTube without engaging with the ad at all? 

Jake Malanoski, customer acquisition director for meals service Green Chef, said he’s recently seen positive test results from shorter-form videos across networks.

“We tend to use seven-second spots,” Malanoski said. “Interestingly enough, if we are trying to reach someone for the first time, the shorter the better. If we are retargeting, we can play a 15 or a 30. Part of the theory there is that if somebody hasn’t heard of you, they are not going to give you the time of day.”


So how to make an effective 6 second video?

YouTube presents advertising opportunities as a “bite, snack, or meal,” each of which offers creatives the ability to tell different types of stories based on the format.

A two-minute skippable ad might be the meal, while the six-second spots are the bite. That’s fairly intuitive, but it also requires a change in perspective. It’s not too difficult to chop a 60-second ad down to thirty seconds, but you can’t tell even an approximation of the same story in just six.

So the answer lies in creating fast-paced videos with powerful imagery, and creating your story through a series of short videos.  Apple has created dynamic videos through combining a few 2 second scenes together, while others use just one scene to capture the experience of the brand.

“The format allows us to continue on our quest to reach a younger demographic,” said Candace Cluck, director of consumer experience for Michelin North America, suggesting that such spots could be ideal for reaching millennials and Gen Z consumers with shorter attention spans. 

“What’s so unique about this format is the way you distribute it. You have to think about these six-second videos in succession. It’s a frequency play.”

It's also really important to engage the audience emotionally - they are far more likely to share it if they have laughed, been awed, or been moved by the video... think of the reason that so many cute cat videos are shared!


Take aways

  1. Advertising needs to be designed for a ‘mobile-first’ audience.
  2. Attention spans on mobile are much shorter than in other media. It has been estimated that people can thumb through 300 feet of content every day; the height of the statue of liberty!
  3. Video advertising is preferred and proven to be 1200% more effective than static images.
  4. 6 seconds has been nominated by the biggest platforms as the preferred length of ad
  5. Engage your audience via one key emotion.
  6. A new approach is required challenging businesses, brands and agencies to adapt.


If you want to try creating some short videos for your brand in just a few minutes – free! – go to