What shorter ad formats mean for advertisers

Jon Appleby: the online video director at Havas Media Group
Jon Appleby: the online video director at Havas Media Group

Jon Appleby, the online video director at Havas Media Group, outlines what YouTube's latest directive will mean for advertisers.

YouTube recently made the announcement that in 2018 it will be withdrawing the 30-second unskippable video ad format in order to focus on shorter or skippable video formats.

Google has no doubt been watching with interest the success Facebook has seen through their video format, which is focussed on delivering short three-second views.

Despite whatever may have motivated Google to make this change, it is, in any event, a clear sign that the video market is maturing to the point where we are no longer just replicating the TV model online.

Advertisers and publishers alike are finally recognising the importance of both creative and format that is tailored to its environment.

However, while these changes clearly benefit from a user experience perspective, it also changes the way agencies must approach two fundamental areas of advertising:

  1. For media agencies, the challenge will be to continue to deliver reach in an environment where users will have the option to skip creative. This will clearly be harder than with previous generations where viewers were comfortable sitting through long TV ad breaks.
  2. For creative agencies, the challenge will be to tell a brand story in under 10 seconds, or grab the users quickly enough to keep them watching for longer

A combination of smart media planning, targeting the right audience at the right time with engaging creative, will be more important than ever before.

Broadly speaking, we can see the implications of this, with video formats and creatives splitting into three categories.

1. Short, bumper creative, maximum 20 seconds

These will be non-skippable and therefore key to delivering reach and frequency, but the shorter duration will require succinct brand messaging. YouTube will continue to run with this format but will focus on the six-second bumper.

Our experience shows that this format is key to delivering efficiency in view rates and works best alongside longer skippable creative, as part of a joined up strategy.  

2. Skippable and outstream formats

Targeting will play a key role as relevance will be crucial in delivering high view rates. Alongside targeting, with the option to skip, brands will need immediately impactful brand messaging in order to gain users’ attention.

However, once viewers are engaged then there is an opportunity for longer brand storytelling with no additional media cost. This is the format YouTube has pioneered through its Trueview product and, more recently, has been utilised by Facebook and other in-read/in-feed/outstream formats.

3. Broadcaster video with TV 'ad breaks'

Despite the growth of video across platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, there is still a role for the more traditional TV-style model, when the environment suits it.

TV has done a fantastic job over the years in getting viewers to watch ads they otherwise wouldn’t choose to.

In broadcast video environments, around premium long-form video content, there is still a role for this format to play without too much detriment to user experience. This isn’t to say broadcaster ad breaks cannot be progressive either, as we have also seen innovation here through interactive and personalised creative.

Personalised creative in particular has delivered some fantastic results for Havas Media Group’s clients, such as our personalised campaigns with O2 on the All4 platform.

What is clear is that a one size fits all approach will not deliver the best results for either advertisers or publishers, and therefore Google’s position will be of benefit to the industry as a whole through forcing a new creative approach.

Jon Appleby is the online video director at Havas Media Group.

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