Sandeep Goyal
Oct 03, 2017

Blog: Do five-seconders work? A perspective from clients

Do clients think that the future is in five-second commercials? We get two interesting perspectives.

Rajat Mehta (left) and Abhiraj Singh Bhal
Rajat Mehta (left) and Abhiraj Singh Bhal
The subject of five-seconders got in a lot of responses. As expected, some agreed, some didn’t. But one thing was for sure: I had managed to get a lot of industry people talking. To get a balanced view on the subject, I invited clients, creative directors and media practitioners to share their views. 
Today’s edition is the response of two clients, Rajat Mehta of Yes Bank and Abhiraj Singh Bhal of Urban Clap. 
Rajat Mehta, president and country head - brand, digital and retail marketing, Yes Bank
Here is my perspective on the 5-seconders. As always there is no yes or no to it, but it is a function of context:
1. Rational over emotional - Yes
2. Frequency over impact -Yes
3. YouTube pre rolls - definitely Yes. In fact, YouTube is discontinuing the 30 secs format & has brought out a list for the best 6 secs ads for their medium
The 5-seconder however has to be used smartly to be effective. At the least, it has to be run on very high frequency with multiple messages for it to get less annoying and more engaging. 
For certain categories such as BFSI (with their mandatory disclaimers), or brands at early life stages, the long format ads might be more suitable. Even new age brands such as Uber, chose to establish an emotional connect with the audience with their _apni gaadi_ campaign. So definitely the long format is still relevant basis if your audience can be engaged with the content that demands a greater viewing.
As a brand, Yes Bank has also experimented with in content advertising, which has been far more impactful than these other formats. The YES BANK Maximum mentions in the IPL along with Aston bands after 4s and 6s worked towards a much higher brand recall. Globally and in India such integrated messages work well to build high awareness and deliver on a key message. The Dunkin save in America's Got Talent, where the brand enables the viewers to save their favorite contestant from getting eliminated to our desi CP Plus CCTV cameras in Bigg Boss are highly contextual and relevant in content placements, they have far bigger impact than the 5-seconders.
Abhiraj Singh Bhal, co-founder and director, Urban Clap
Is the 5-seconder ad the future of advertising on TV and Digital Platforms? I believe it is. While long format ads will not disappear, 5-seconder ads will become common over the next few years. 
In my opinion, three dominant factors which will drive adoption of the 5-seconder ad format – 
1. Lower costs: Short format ads save advertisers a ton of money, especially on TV, where “time is money”. They allow for higher frequency building on smaller budgets, but more importantly, allow advertisers to “test” TV campaigns. Let me explain. The typical TV campaign is made with a bulge bracket creative agency, a big budget, long gestation times, and the campaign is launched as a curtain raiser event. Here is an alternative – make ten smaller 5-second ads with the same creative budget, test them on TV or Digital platforms to see which ones are performing well, and double click your ad dollars on the 2-3 best performing creatives. The campaign cycle time can also shorten allowing for faster iterations and changing of creatives. We have done this at UrbanClap with several 10-seconder ads, and our next pit-stop is the 5-7 seconder. For example, the two ad copies below did well amongst over 10 copies we ran Pan India. 

For the ad-copy below, the Hindi version did not do well, but the Tamil version did well, and we doubled clicked on it.  
2. Rise of Digital: Advertisers today are spending a significant share of their wallet on digital platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. These spends will only grow overtime. Pure-play ads on these platforms can rarely capture the users’ attention for more than 5-7 seconds. It is no surprise that the 6-seconder, non-skip ad format is most popular on YouTube today. The Facebook “3-second rule” is also well known to advertisers - either you have captured the users’ attention in the first 3 seconds of your video, or she has moved on. My point is simple, the smartphone user will always be bombarded with great content to consume, and pure-play ads, no matter how intelligently written or quirky, will rarely be able to compete with that content. So it is better to make your point in 5-seconds, and let the user move on. 
3. Customization and Personalization: Almost all digital platforms allow for a high degree of customization and personalization, and the day is not far when the same will be possible on TV (Infact, with smart TVs, in some sense it is already happening). Today, many advertisers are creating 5-7 second ads, where a single ad copy can be customized for various occasions, and personalized for various user types, thus reducing the cost of creative, and speeding up the time to market. It’s a lot easier to personalize short form, 5-7 second ads, which usually have just one underlying message, than their 30-seconder counterparts. Uber is doing that beautifully with the ad copy below on YouTube. The have made ~100 different creatives from this single copy. The copy is customizable for different festivals, city specific events, user ride patterns etc., allowing for very relevant and targeted ads, and faster iterations.

In summary, the 5-seconder ad campaign allows advertisers to be nimble, customize their content for users, and give more bang for every marketing spent across TV and digital.
Both Mehta and Bhal are fairly lucid in expressing their views on the subject. Mehta favours 5-seconders because they work better with the rational versus the emotional; as also give higher frequency versus impact. Bhal favours the 5-seconders for their nimbleness and their customization. I agree with both.
Tomorrow, we shall carry the views of two creative directors, Chraneeta Mann, former NCD of Rediffusion DY&R who now runs The Mob; and of Harish Arora, former NCD of Dentsu who now works at From Here On (FHO). Let us see what they have to say.
(Sandeep Goyal encourages debate and discussion in his Blog in Campaign, picking subjects that interest and excite the advertising industry.)
Campaign India