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The future is here and it is 6-seconds long.

Earlier this year, Google started prepping the world for its new 6-second pre-roll ads.

WHAT CAN YOU EVEN DO IN A 6-SECOND VIDEO SPOT?!?!

sheldon 6-second videos

Perhaps this is indicative of our ever shrinking attention span mixed with advertising’s penchant for sneaking into any opportunity it can find, but the internet has accepted the 6-second challenge and the Video Storytelling revolution has begun.

The creative magic that can happen in 6-seconds is insane. Remember when the 15-second video format was introduced? How absurd did that seem? And yet, now it’s common place.

With all of the content that exists out there on the interwebs, and how quickly users jump from one site to another, quickly grabbing the attention of your audience is KEY! You’ve gotta hook them from frame one (especially if you’ve only got 180 frames in this new format).

While this is something born of the internet, it is already set to take broadcast by storm. Fox announced earlier this month that they would be running 6-second ads on its digital and on-demand properties and that they will introduce the new format on Fox’s Teen Choice 2017 live broadcast!

The idea behind this major shift is to provide a more inclusive advertising platform for all advertisers, making it easier for those who traditionally do not buy TV spots to do so, and provide an ad experience more similar to their online campaigns.

So, basically our television is basically becoming one big Snapchat/Instagram/Facebook Story!

This new format will help marketers and advertisers create a seamless transition for views from online media ads, to paid television spots, to ads on their mobile devices. Not only will this new ad format work wonders for message retention, but it’s a step in the right direction for capturing a younger demographic that is cutting the cord with increasing frequency.

So what do these new 6-second videos mean for my brand?

In short, everything changes. You’ll need to be more concise, you’ll need to think more holistically, and you’ll need to think about crafting an overarching story through a series of spots.

These are all good things, though, for creatives and for brands alike. I’m reminded of the urban legend that is Ernest Hemingway’s 6-word short story: For sale, Baby shoes, Never worn.

Ouch.

Why does that story hit so hard? Because it’s short. Because it has to hit you hard because it doesn’t have any more room to expand on the narrative. This is what we see in this spot that, honestly, made me way too stressed out.

Again – ouch.

But not all 6 second spots need to be that stark or rough to watch. Rather, they just need to hone their message, tell their story, and get the viewer invested.

So, some things to keep in mind when creating shorter video content:

  • Consider the overall story that you want to convey with a 6-second video.
  • Keep in mind that shorter videos might work best as a sort of series with one thru-line, or common theme/goal.
  • These shorter ads are perfect and usable across all media platforms (i.e. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) and soon on broadcast television.
  • It’s not about slamming your audience with as much information as you can in your limited time, rather teasing them enough to leave them wanting more.

Keep it simple, keep it relatable, and embrace the constraints.