Facebook's recent show of interest in the 10-second video ad format has sparked many discussions around how brands can make the most of it. Is there any science to it?
Around 8-10 years ago, when brands were just discovering the digital ad film, budget-strapped marketing teams heaved a collective sigh of relief. To some degree, they got some respite from the whole 'rate per X seconds' calculation chart. Then, before we realised, the Director's Cut became the final film... length became a luxury brands began to abuse and we watched 'ads' that went on and on for up to five, sometimes 10 minutes! Then, bringing the digital ad film game full circle, was the bite-sized, short-form ad film or 'bumper ad' format. Brands suddenly had to make do with ridiculously short slots to capture the attention of their digital audience.
Recently, Facebook's Thumbstoppers initiative tied up with a bunch of creative agencies to brainstorm on the subject on every brand marketer's mind - how to create impactful video content in 10 seconds, designed for consumption on mobile. This got us thinking - what should a brand do in 10 seconds? Use the logo at the beginning, the end or not at all? Use graphics/animation or humans? Use supers on the screen or not? Be shocking or funny?
Well, we bring you some thumb-rules from four types of experts - marketing, film production, creative, and digital.
Atul Garg, chief marketing officer, Baggit
From a 'do's' perspective, I think all brand stakeholders will need to work more efficiently to create messages for the smaller formats that have an emotional connect. More importantly, this emotional connect will need to be built in at the initial stages - probably in the first five seconds.
Given the reality of the Indian industry - that television drives a majority of the media spends - the 'don'ts' would not be using this format for TV. Given the brand and media clutter that exists, this format could probably work as a teaser to build brand salience on social media platforms. The multiple forms of creative devices that can be used are humour, messages aimed at changing consumer behaviour and breaking stereotypes. It varies from brand to brand.
When it comes to the 'no-nos', firstly there shouldn't be a delayed brand introduction because the time-frame is short. It creates a level of credibility for the audience if the brand is introduced in the initial part. Secondly, this format shouldn't be treated as an opportunity to achieve multiple brand objectives within 10 seconds. Rather, it's an opportunity to execute the hub and spoke model of advertising in which your main idea lies at the centre and then multiple 10-second ads are released to deliver and support this central idea.
Titus Upputuru, creative head, Taproot Dentsu, Gurgaon
In my literature days, authors like Henry James would take over two pages just to describe the setting of the town or a room in which the protagonist is playing the piano. But times have changed. These are the times of memes, GIFs and WhatsApp joke forwards. You take a few seconds to look at it and burst out laughing, smile or wince. That's how today's world is. No one seems to have the patience to go through long-drawn executions. On the other hand, Netflix is making money out of long format video and people are staying up nights to watch entire series. So, it all boils down to 'are you interesting enough to hold my attention?'
The 10-second format is great too. You have to be sharp and take a look at all that is not helping the key message - and remove it. Editing is key and not just from a film point of view but also from the perspective of writing. Anything can work as long as you say it in a pithy manner. Economy of words and expression is of importance.
I thought it might be difficult to do dialogues in this format. But then, the most popular dialogue in Indian cinema is just two seconds: "Mere paas maa hai." So nothing is impossible. Time constraint is a myth.
Aliasgar Banatwala, media director, Digitas India
Do's: To keep the user hooked, it is important to build the story around the key message you want to deliver. Enrich it further by playing with text, music and colour; ensure that they complement the story and don't distract people from the point you're trying to make. If you thought 10 seconds was too short, wait for this - you actually get just two seconds to make an impact. In these two seconds, people decide whether they should continue watching or go ahead with their scrolling. Tell them a story that will make them happy; get them thinking or move them to take action. If your story can do any of these, you've succeeded. You have to make it the best 10 seconds of their scrolling time.
Don'ts: While the ultimate goal is to have your consumer embrace the product or service, it's important to keep the 'sale' aspect native to the content and not turn it into a blatant sale call-out. Think about building an audience and not selling stuff to them. Don't take your video views for granted. The trick is to keep them engaged by identifying what your TG likes, consumes and is most likely to engage with. Keep the device in mind too - smartphone, tablet, etc. Use a video file that has the highest resolution, but ensure that it meets the file size and ratio limits - 9:16, 16:9.
Lastly, ensure that your thumbnail doesn't exceed 20 per cent of the text. It's an old restriction, but a fresh reminder. If you exceed it, your reach will be compromised.
Dalbir Singh, co-founder, Kiss Films
Do's: Experiment with different kinds of execution styles like stop-motion, animation etc. Use the 10-second slot as inspiration for the concept. Use humour; look at vines and GIFs for inspiration.
Don'ts: Don't make layered, complex stories. You don't want people to second guess your message. Do not keep lengthy supers and voice-overs. I have seen a few videos where I had to watch the video a few times to read the entire super. Do not try to fit a 30-second concept into this. Do not treat this as another medium for a 30-second spot and try to force-fit the concept in 10 seconds.