Didn’t take long, did it? Indeed, at only 30 seconds long it’s no surprise that when first launched in 2010 this Old Spice advert became the fastest online viral video campaign in history. Receiving 6.7 million views after 24 hours and swelling to 23 million views within 36 hours, this memorable clip is now widely recognised as part of one of the most effective advertising campaigns ever. Although much of the appeal lies in Isaiah Mustafa’s directly amusing address of the audience whilst undermining typically subtle concepts of advertising, this one-shot, half-minute clip also considers the significance of capturing and holding the modern consumer’s attention. As such, this succinct yet effective example thus asks the question: what is the perfect length of a video advert?
In this highly mediated society with the explosion of high speed Wi-Fi access now available across a plethora of mobile devices and our technological capabilities now fully acclimatized to the hyperlinked nature of the web, it seems in many cases that shorter may indeed be better. With the ability to instantly gratify our online needs at the click of a mouse and to skip ruthlessly from page to page if our attention fails to be held, the requirement for short, succinct bursts of information has never been more in demand. Therefore such modern behavioural habits of internet users has proven highly beneficial for web based businesses that no longer need rely on key consumption times when internet traffic is high but instead can now reach their consumers 24/7.
Embedded in our evolved use of the internet as we flit consistently from page to page to satisfy our surfing pleasure is the innate changes that such habits have caused in our attention spans. Given the benefits attached with the availability of vast amounts of data available at our fingertips, our ability to concentrate for longer and more in-depth has consequently diminished. Though online advertising works similarly to its print predecessor by attracting the attention of consumers by structuring the crucial selling points in both an accessible and digestible way, the challenge now faced by commercial sites is not only to attract such consumers but, more importantly, to keep them there. This method of maintaining the user’s attention is known as ‘stickiness’.
As psychiatrist Pam Briggs of Nottingham University suggests; “If a website has stickiness, it will keep your attention glued to that site rather than let you click on another one as your competitor is just one click away.” A significant and well documented method which is known to sustain the attention of users is through the rich media format of video content which presents key consumer information in a quick, effective and engaging way when compared with text only pages. Likewise, given the endless visual potential of video content, the opportunity to fulfil an aspect of the Reticular Activating System (RAS) – one of the central areas of the brain which focuses attention – can be established through the use of novelty and new/unexpected information. In this way, the brain pays more attention to things in the environment that are new to a person’s experience and thus their attention is captured and held.
Given the evolution of our attention spans in this internet age combined with the dismissive click of a mouse as we jump from webpage to webpage, the common understanding is often that to best sell a product/experience the more succinct your message is, the more likely the consumer will ‘stick’. At Sync or Swim Productions, we strongly believe in the merit of producing high-quality video content which best sells your product/experience whilst fully focusing the attention of your audience. Thus, our advertisement packages range from 30 seconds to 2 minutes in length to ensure a concise yet appealing feature available to all potential consumers. After all, where 30 seconds may be ample for Old Spice, in the case of Honda’s infamous ‘The Cog’ advert (featured below) 2 minutes can be equally attention-grabbing.