Why sometimes it’s worth sacrificing frequency for impact
New ad-supported streaming options present opportunities for long-form ad assets this Christmas season, and advertisers should lean in.
As UK retailers launch their glittering, pricey Christmas TV campaigns with long-form ads often running to over 60 seconds, there are big questions over the return on investment these campaigns deliver.
With attention spans shortening, linear TV audiences in decline and media price inflation rocketing, it might seem like an odd time to roll out a long-form television commercial. But ads which run from 60 seconds to over 150 seconds can have a powerful impact on viewers.
Yes, the production and media costs are sky high, eating into the marketing budget and limiting the room for manoeuvre. Yet if a brand has a key message to deliver and a specific audience in mind, a long-form ad can pack a significantly greater punch than running shorter ads more frequently.
With deft media planning around these campaigns and placement in appropriate programmes, longer TV ads can resonate with audiences and deliver a strong return on investment.
Looking beyond linear
Given the explosion in TV ad inventory from the wealth of new channels in subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) and free advertiser-funded television (FAST), the opportunities are multiplying. The growth of connected TV (CTV) — where people watch channels on internet-connected devices such as mobiles, laptops or internet enabled TVs — is also producing more inventory.
Brands can look beyond increasingly pricey mainstream TV channels with their falling audiences to plan long-form campaigns.
Subscription channels such as Netflix, Amazon and Discovery+, which have introduced advertising over the past year, have created exclusive environments with few ads. These on-demand platforms present a unique environment for long-form assets. A long-form campaign could appear in a break as one of three ads, or even as a solus advert during a show tightly targeted to a specific audience.
Power in long formats
Recently, Yonder Media launched the Alzheimer’s Research UK’s animated “For A Cure” campaign. The long-form work produced by creative agency Above+Beyond runs for a full two minutes.
“Typically, media agencies would run a mile from a long-format ad, but we recognise the importance of impact,” Ed Cox, Yonder Media’s managing director, said. “And this film is at its most powerful on the big screen and in high attention moments that only cinema and appointment-to-view TV can offer”.
Thinkbox outlined some of the advantages of long ads in its study, A Matter of Time – the importance of time-length in TV advertising. It showed that longer creative ads act as memory “anchors,” allowing for increased brand and advertising recall.
Long-form ads enhance image memory — allowing for increased association between the brand and the image. Meanwhile, brand awareness decays faster than brand perception — people remember the key messaging, feeling, and visual of an ad rather than the brand’s name.
This shows the power of an extended narrative in shaping brand perceptions.
While a long-form ad can be the driving force of a campaign, further executions can be run at 30, 20 and 10 seconds long to make the most of the opportunity.
Brands should think strategically about where they place long-form ads as they seek to create moments that stand out for viewers. This saves on the media spend involved in buying multiple spots around highly viewed programming.
Whether it’s on mainstream TV or through the newly launched on-demand channels, sacrificing frequency for impact can really pay off.
Adam Boucid is AV Director at Yonder Media.