How Short Can Ads Be? The ARF Studies the Impact of Six-Second Ads

By Charlene Weisler

The ARF and TVision recently released a study examining the impact of six-second ads, offering best practices for those who wish to implement. The study, announced in the recent ARF NYCU email, was conducted between October 2017 and May 2018 and tracked participants’ presence and visual attention through a set-top meter using computer vision as they watched television. The study consisted of 256,463 observations of an advertisement playing on a television in one of 1,372 households.

According to the ARF, the study found that visual attention differed by advertisement length, and identified which factors affected visual attention and whether they differ by advertisement length. The study found that the significant predictors of visual attention for 15s and 30s were nearly identical.

Here are the study conclusions:

  1. Age –The older you are, the more likely you will pay attention to 15s and 30s. But the effect of age for six second ads was not significant.
  2. Broadcast/Cable – Advertisements on cable were less likely to receive visual attention in general. This finding might have been due to the longer advertisement pods that typically are found on cable. The effect of network for sixes was not significant.
  3. Daypart – Relative to primetime, advertisements run in all other dayparts were less likely to receive visual attention. Daypart played the largest role in determining visual attention for both 15s and 30s. The effect of daypart for sixes was not significant.
  4. Gender – The gender of the viewer was not a significant factor in visual attention for any advertisement length.
  5. Pod position – Compared with being first in a pod, all three advertisement lengths were less likely to receive visual attention when in the middle of a pod. Being solo in the pod was the largest factor for increasing visual attention for sixes.

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