The first video advertisement was a 10-second Bulova Watches ad aired on July 1st, 1941 prior to a game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies. Since then , TV evolved to being filled with mostly 30-second and 60-second long commercials during and between shows on every television network. Some of these ad slots are cheap during daytime television, others are during the biggest events in television such as the Super Bowl, and these ad slots can cost millions of dollars for 30 seconds of ad-space. All of us grew up with ad this format on cable TV, and had become accustomed to it. But are the 30 and 60-second advertisements still effective today?
Today’s Television industry looks a lot different than it did a decade ago. Between 2010 and 2019, over 60% of Americans have ditched their cable subscriptions, starting with the younger generations. Cable has been replaced by the new subscription services, offering ad-free shows and movies for a flat monthly fee. So where did this leave advertisers going? As a result of this, rather than seeing video advertising on television, most people now see video advertising online on social medias. The most popular places for video advertising is on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. An important difference to notice between these social media companies and the cable television we grew up with is the attention span required. The most popular media outlets with young and young adult audiences today require a much shorter attention span than cable television does. As such, advertisements on these platforms also must adjust to shorter attention spans. Ads on these platforms generally run up to 30 seconds on average, but they only have about 1-5 seconds to get their point across or catch a potential customer before the viewer has the option to skip (and most often will). Unless it is non-skippable, as some YouTube ads are, any video that is 30 seconds or longer will likely get skipped and ignored by the viewer. The shortest ad slots available on YouTube currently are 6-second slots.
The future of video advertising to millennials and younger generations will be quick 1-5 second ads. As toleration for ad interruption is declining steeply among younger audiences, I believe that the advertisements will become more brief and succinct than ever before. Rather than the 2 minute YouTube ads that are skippable after 5 seconds, in a year or two I would be unsurprised to instead see brief, impressionable video advertisements that are finished before the viewer would even have a chance to skip. The rise of the streaming platforms was just the beginning of a decreasing tolerance for long advertisement interruption by consumers. The recent rise of video sharing platforms such as TikTok also support this hypothesis. The videos on the app are generally shorter than most television ads. Even a 15 second ad between videos seems like a lot. In the future I see more video advertisements showing up on social media platforms, but the ads will become even shorter than they are today.
As the way people consume media continues to evolve, so does the most effective ways to advertise. The media that people are consuming has resulted in a shortening of attention spans, and a decrease in tolerance for ad interruption. This will continue into the future, and the way companies advertise will be continuously adapting to this.