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Size does matter!

Some important questions about TV advertising are:

  • What the effect is of length in advertising?
  • Do you need a mix of short and long commercials?
  • And can you tell a story in less than 10 seconds?

For TV advertising to work effectively it must be able to effectively tell a story and generate an emotional reaction from consumers. Whilst testing remains the most effective way of determining what works best, having some theory and background research as a starting point, or a way of making us question the status quo is always welcome. Work Research commissioned Thinkbox to investigate what role the length of the commercial plays for the effect of TV advertising.

The key findings from this research are listed below:

  1. Longer commercials have advantages compared to shorter commercials
    The conscious brand attitude is 42% higher for long commercials than for short commercials. Longer ads can convey more information and according to the research longer commercials are even more effective at an unconscious level. Longer commercials are therefore better at influencing both brand attitude and brand strength.

short ads vs. long ads

  1. Longer commercials work as memory anchors
    Our brains are programmed to recognise stories, to respond to them and to remember them. Storytelling has been helping us to learn, teach and develop since the beginning of humanity. Stories put our brains to work and form universal patterns that rise above individual culture and languages. Our brain likes clarity, if a piece of information is missing, the brain supplements it themselves. For advertising this means that longer commercials explain a story more fully, workings memory anchors.
  1. Longer commercials improve the remembering of (brand) images.
    We store memories as separate images of events. That is why image-defying photos are essential for TV advertising and for building strong brands. Both the context and the story are essential for brand recall and they are both parts of the brand story. In the research, the same images were used in both the long and shorter spots, for the same time, yet the memory of the key scenes in the longer commercial was 37% higher than in the shorter commercials.

short ads vs. long ads

All Response Media viewpoint
Both long and short TV commercials play important roles in TV advertising. The challenge is to use their individual strengths. Longer commercials can tell a story better and storytelling is key for brand recognition and emotional response. That is why longer TV commercials are better able to create a positive brand attitude than shorter ones. Four of our NGO clients we work within the Amsterdam office have seen the effect of long vs. short TV commercials where the CPD (Cost per Donor) decreased by 30% when running the long TV commercials. However, once the story and products are known, shorter commercials can be very effective at working together with longer spots to improve efficiency. For example, with another client we saw the cost per visit (CPV) decrease by 35% when running both the long and short commercials combined.

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