Voice Acting

Thriving in the Age of Brevity: The 6-Second Ad

Keaton Robbins | January 10, 2019

A large number six sits in the middle of a textured blue background.

Editor’s note: This is an update to an article originally published in August 2017 by Tanya Chopp.

Do you ever feel like the motto for your industry is Do more with less?

Every day, the challenge grows ever steeper to achieve maximum impact with advertising messaging, despite lower budgets, less time, and an ever-fragmented, always fleeting, attention span.

But at the same time, under these kinds of constraints, a seemingly magical thing often happens – messages get clearer, and ads become even more powerful.

With no time left for lengthy explanations, the only thing left to do is to say what you mean, in the most succinct and compelling way.

Publications like Adweek believe we’re moving away from the era of 30-second ads and entering into the age of the 6-second ad. And from Facebook to Fox, major advertising platforms all seem to be getting on board with the idea of these brief and unskippable ‘bumpers.’

In this article

  1. Benefits of 6-Second Ads for Advertisers
  2. 7 Key Considerations for Creating a 6-Second Ad Bumper
  3. 1. Keep Your Ad Messaging Simple
  4. 2. Make a Snappy Showcase
  5. 3. Format Tells the Story
  6. 4. Make that Emotional Connection
  7. 5. Don’t Settle on the Voice Over
  8. 6. Make the Most of Each 6-Second Block by Creating a Series of :06s Episodes
  9. 7. Room to Grow
  10. The 10 Top 6-second YouTube Ads of 2018:
  11. How Will You Find Creativity in the Age of Brevity?

Benefits of 6-Second Ads for Advertisers

Here’s an appropriately succinct list of the benefits of this shorter ad format:

  • Viewers cannot skip these ads
  • The length of this content is perfect for mobile! People on-the-go or commuting are watching videos, news updates and more. These spots pop-up and aren’t overly invasive.
  • The short spot allows brands to plant a seed before building momentum. Since the viewer has already met your brand with your 6-second spot, they’re more inclined to pay attention to a longer story when you launch your 15 or 30-second spots.
  • According to Google, 61% of all 6-second bumpers drove a significant lift in brand awareness, with an average lift of 9% across all campaigns globally.
  • Attention to paid advertising on YouTube’s mobile app is 84% higher than advertising on TV channels.
  • The Advertising Research Foundation released a study citing that 6-second spots capture 8-11% more attention per second, compared to 15 and 30-second spots.

7 Key Considerations for Creating a 6-Second Ad Bumper

1. Keep Your Ad Messaging Simple

The beauty of the bumper is that it reaches your audience in next to no time. With just 6 seconds to tell a story, your message should be concise.

If you’re having a hard time boiling your message down, try thinking about how you would explain the point of your ad (or brand) in just one sentence. When messaging is complex or highly technical, sometimes thinking about how you would explain it to someone much younger than you, such as a child, can also help.

2. Make a Snappy Showcase

Just like your messaging, you only have a few precious seconds to sear your product (or branding, if there’s no product) into the minds of your audience. According to Google’s experts at Think with Google, it’s absolutely essential to include a product shot in the 6-second spot. You should make sure your product (or branding) is featured prominently on the screen.

When YouTube revealed the best 6-second ads from July 2017 through July 2018, you could guess what the 10 ads had in common: All of them included a short and snappy product showcase.

The list was determined by market research company Ipsos, which included an algorithm tying in views and engagement.

Google noted a higher lift in ad recall from bumper ads that included a product shot in their 6-second spot. That’s a huge development in cracking the 6-second code.

(Scroll to the bottom of this list to see what 6-second ads made YouTube’s top 10 for 2018.)

Many of the ads on the top 10 list were created just for the 6-second advertisement format. This differs from last year’s list, which included many longer ads that were just cut down to six seconds. This shows that brands are realizing the importance of the emerging bumper and are specializing to communicate effectively through it.

3. Format Tells the Story

It may just be a split second, but there will be a sliver of time at the beginning of your ad where your viewer needs to get acquainted with what they’re seeing.

Start your ad off with that branding visual cue or product showcase, and then pack the punch with a powerful voice over that delivers your call-to-action.

4. Make that Emotional Connection

Yes, we’ve been harping on the importance of showcasing your product (or brand) right away. However, it’s just as important to ensure that when you’re highlighting your products and services, that you are doing so in a way that’s meaningful to the viewer. An incredibly insightful study by Teads and Realeyes suggests that most of these unskippable ads actually aren’t making that important emotional connection.

They tested 75 brands, using a technology to measure users’ emotional reactions, giving each ad an EmotionAll® score out of 10 (high emotional connection). The study revealed that 6-second ads score a 3.6 compared to 5.1 for 30-second ads.

So while these ads may be capturing more of the viewer’s attention, it’s important you don’t forget to develop a strong narrative that people resonate with. The 6-second mobile ads that told a story (had a narrative) performed significantly better, scoring a 4.1, compared to 3.1 for those without.

5. Don’t Settle on the Voice Over

With such a time constraint, your message is more important than ever before – there’s no room for a poor quality or mismatched voice over.

The voice you choose must effectively embody your brand, and deliver the message in the intended tone and spirit. It should be moving, not jarring.

6. Make the Most of Each 6-Second Block by Creating a Series of :06s Episodes

You’re already used to creating campaigns that build on a central theme or storyline, so don’t let the 6-second spot intimidate you or feel like you’re limited by it. Instead, turn it into an opportunity to create a series of multiple bumpers that piece together a story over a period of time. Done well, your audience will look forward to each portion of your storyline.

7. Room to Grow

The appetite for big brands to dive into the 6-second ad world has grown. However, these bumpers still only make up for 2% of all video ad views, according to an Extreme Reach Q3 report. In Q3 2018, 55% of all video ad views were 30 seconds long, 41% were 15 seconds long, and 2% were 6 seconds long. It would still be wise for your firm to also make a significant investment in a stellar 15-second and 30-second ad.

The 10 Top 6-second YouTube Ads of 2018:

1. Reese’s – Egg Season


Brand: Reese’s
Creative Agency: Anomaly
Media Agency: Universal McCann

2. K9 Advantix® II Flyswatter Commercial :06 – Flea, Tick & Mosquito Treatment for Dogs


Brand: BayerUS
Creative Agency: VML
Media Agency: Consumer Orbit

3. Rice Krispies Treats Holiday Santa Sleigh

Brand: Rice Krispies
Creative Agency: Leo Burnett
Media Agency: Starcom

4. How Does Keebler Make Each Perfectly Fudgy Fudge Stripes Cookie a Masterpiece?

Brand: Keebler
Creative Agency: Leo Burnett
Brand Agency: Starcom

5. 2018 Gorilla Tape Commercial  

Brand: Gorilla Glue
Media Agency: Empower Media Agency

6. Sargento® 100% Real Natural Cheese Slices  

Brand: Sargento Cheese
Media Agency: iCrossing Chicago

7. Duracell | Slamtone  


Brand: Duracell
Creative Agency: W+K
Media Agency: Spark

8. SONIC Cookie Jar Shakes “Marriage” Bumper

Brand: Sonic Drive-In
Media Agency: Zenith Atlanta

9. The BBQ Pizza Stack  

Brand: Pringles U.S.
Creative Agency: Grey
Media Agency: Starcom

10. Dominos A Little Of This


Brand: Domino’s Pizza
Creative Agency: CP&B

How Will You Find Creativity in the Age of Brevity?

More and more, we’re hearing that advertisers are under pressure to disseminate messages across multiple platforms, conforming to each format while maintaining the integrity of their story.

How are you embracing this age and stage of the evolution of advertising?

What examples are you seeing – from brands, agencies and individuals – that are inspiring you?

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