The arrival of the six-second TV spot, will India take to it?

MUMBAI: For advertisers and brand managers, is this the shape of things to come?  Come 13 August 2017 and the US-based Fox Networks group is slated to launch a new concept in product promotion and TV commercial on live television: that of the six second spot, a first for the broadcast television industry.

The spots are slated to be aired during the Teen Choice 2017 show between 8 to 10 pm (5:30 am to 7:30 am IST) on television as well as in on-demand streams. The first two brands to jump on to this new unit of advertising are Duracell and Mars.  Fox will simultaneously be running six second promos for its TV shows as well.

While Mars will be running six second TVCs for  its Snickers and Twix brands during the Teen Choice Awards, Duracell will be pushing its batteries.

The six second spot is another unit of pod of advertising that is being tested in television advertising but it owes its existence to Youtube which pioneered the format.

Both  Mars and Duracell are excited because  youth today are preferring shorter ad lengths. The expectation is that channel zapping will go down during the ad breaks.

The six-second spot will also offer them innovative ways of telling their stories and brand messages while helping them drive value in their media investments. Both are hoping that the new ad format could play a bigger role in their creative asset mix going forward.

In India, the broadcasting, media and brand fraternity have been quite used to the three or five second tag-ons  for sponsor boards which come at the end of every programme segment  (or leading  into another segment) leading to a commercial break or coming into another segment. But, in most cases media agencies do not create special shorter format commercials specifically for the tag-on spots; they just clip the regular 10-30 second ad to three to five seconds and air it.

Of course, the Indian advertising industry has experimented with long format commercials for a minute to three and a half minutes (remember Tata Sky’s Prison break commercial), but the regular unit has been between 10-40 seconds.

Internationally, the longest ever commercial ran for  13 hours five minutes and 11 seconds  and promoted Arby's Smokehouse Brisket sandwich. It was aired on a local TV network in Minnesota US from 24-25 May 2014. The commercial consisted largely of a single shot of a raw beef brisket being smoked over the course of 13 hours. At the conclusion of the smoking process, the cooked brisket was removed from the smoker, and a chef used the brisket to make a sandwich, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

We have no idea how many watched the Arby’s ultra long spot, but its quite likely viewers did dip in and out over the 13 hours plus to see if their favourite TV shows were back on the telly. Arby’s claimed that almost 350,000 people tuned in with an average viewing time of 38 minutes.

And another commercial by Cycle and Carriage after sales service,Singapore ran on Youtube for 24 hours.

So, will Indian advertisers and agencies also experiment with the six second spot? They have already been dabbling in branded native content and advertiser funded programmes on TV as well as special videos of varying duration for social media platforms.

A few brands may take the six second tip and go for it. As well as some broadcasters. Especially those that target the youth - most of whom suffer from an attention deficit disorder and zap channels with determination during ad breaks.

The benefits are many: for broadcasters more brands could be accommodated during the commercial breaks, probably getting the them higher sales revenues, as they will be in a position to put two spots in the place of one 15 seconder.  Of course it’s quite possible that audiences will stick to the channel and not run away. Which again could be  win-win for media agencies, broadcasters and brands.

It’s now over to  India’s  brand custodians and advertisers to take a step forward.

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