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Second length ratio – finding the right balance for success

When people think of the second length of TV advertisements, the default length that will generally come to mind is 30”. This is the ‘standard’ duration TV is traded in, however the majority of impacts delivered on TV in 2017 so far have actually been on non-30” spots. As the table below shows, between January to August 2017, over 90% of UK impacts were delivered on spots 30” or below. Compared to same period ten years ago in 2007, there are some noticeable changes in trends. Since 2007, there has been a shift from longer second lengths to shorter. 10-30” spots have increased by 5.35%, while 40-90” spots have dropped by 5.54%.

When planning a TV campaign, second length is a vital consideration for an effective campaign. While shorter spot lengths mean fewer seconds onscreen to communicate an advertiser’s message, they come at a lower cost. 10” cost per thousand impacts (CPTs) are generally 50% cheaper than 30” and 20” are 15% cheaper. 60” are double the CPT of a 30” and 90” are triple. Shorter second lengths mean a campaign budget can buy more impacts, thereby increasing reach, frequency and share of voice (SOV). However, shorter screen time to communicate an advertiser’s message can often lead to a lower response, in comparison to longer second lengths. Longer second lengths can drive higher response, as they have more time to demonstrate a product, repeat the call to action and grab attention. In contrast, longer second lengths mean a reduced number of spots, which will affect impacts, reach and frequency.

The key is finding the right balance. Although a 20” spot might drive a lower response than a 30”, if it’s a 10% lower response at 15% lower cost, this could be more efficient. 10” can work well in isolation when looking at attribution at a spot level. However, when there is low brand awareness or it is not supported by longer second lengths, this can lead to a poorer overall response.

All Response Media Viewpoint

Second length ratios are a key area we optimise in order to help our clients deliver the best response and something we regularly recommend to our clients to test. When analysing different ratios, the optimal weighting is to find the balance, where second lengths have a similar efficiency, allowing us to understand how different lengths can play a role in driving the optimal results. Ratios do not have to be same across the full campaign to deliver the best results. For example, short second lengths can be used on core stations, where an advertiser has high frequency and high awareness levels with that station’s core audience, or as a way to access peak at a lower cost and risk.

The trend towards shorter second lengths in the UK market is interesting and is indicative of the results that we see for many of our performance clients. As behaviour has moved further towards the digital funnel, we encourage our clients to let their websites do the ‘heavy lifting’ of brand immersion and product definition. With that in mind, the role of TV has been simplified, to one that just has to get the consumer to the search function. The advent of mobile behaviour and dual screening has helped to close that gap even further, getting the shop face even closer to the TV. However, it is vitally important to ensure that there is a seamless integration between your TV activity and your search engine marketing (SEM) strategy, or you run the risk of sending your valuable traffic to your competitors’ websites!