Super-short-format content videos should also be super simple to digest and comprehend, but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring! Yes, some ads can be longer, up to 60 seconds, but you should assume that you only have five seconds with the viewer. We know, most people don’t want to watch an advertisement, and years of terrible ads have trained us all to immediately head for the “skip” button, which makes our jobs even harder. But have no fear, we can make great content that people want to watch, we can make content that’s not boring, and we can reach our target market with the message we want to send. It is doable, and we are the ones to help you do it.

There are many ways to create a short form video ad that leaves an impression, and yes, six second videos that create brand awareness are relatively easy if you already have a well-known brand and an actual product that can be shown. For example, in this Duracell ad, they literally just show several shots of their product in sexy lighting:

That begs the question, is it even possible to tell a creative and entertaining story in six seconds if you don’t necessarily have a product that is extremely recognizable? The one-second answer is, yes. Prove it? Check out this Gumtree pre-roll. I’ve never heard of them, but after watching this five second ad I know exactly what they do. They told a super tiny story about a woman with a cute couch, who wanted to sell her cute couch. She used their easy-to-use app, her couch was bought, and she made money.

Things to Consider

Be self-aware. Again, we know most people don’t want to watch an ad before getting to the content they are actually looking for. Create something entertaining that people don’t want to skip. Don’t get in the way of what viewers want to watch—be what they want to watch.

The Goal

What is the goal of the content? The goal of your ad will help to determine the length, message, and placement of the video. Is it part of a larger campaign? If so, what are the goals of the larger campaign that should trickle down to what this video should be accomplishing? Is your goal to create brand awareness? Or to create a call-to-action? Answering these questions will help guide you to the best content for your audience.

Understand Your Audience

A deep understanding of your target audience will help you craft a custom message that’ll catch the viewer’s attention. If you know your video will play before something specific, use that to your advantage. For example, if your video will be playing before a DIY home improvement tutorial on YouTube, tailor your content to relate to that subject and audience. As another example, if your company installs television mounts, your six-second video may include a DIY mounting experience gone (playfully) wrong.

The Right Message For Your Audience

Your message doesn’t always have to be playful or silly. Obviously, you want to create a message that will fit the situation. If your message is to show the importance of conserving water, you may show a time lapse of what a scene would look like now and the effect of drought conditions 20 years from now, like the example below.

All of the Variables

Will there be a “skip ad” button? If so, keep it short and sweet. People just want to get to what they came for (which is likely not your ad). If you’ve paid to override the “skip ad” button, perhaps you can place a little bit longer of an ad, but not so long that you annoy people and leave a bad taste in their mouth about your brand/ad. The exception to this is if your ad is actually entertaining. This seems obvious, but I’m going to say it anyway. Make your content entertaining so people will enjoy watching it.

Instagram vs. Facebook vs. YouTube vs. Hulu

Of course, you’re not going to use the same video content for your YouTube bumper ad that you would for your Facebook and Instagram ads, right? Or should you? This decision depends on your goals and strategy. However, I can tell you that all of these platforms handle video content advertising differently. Know your audience and your strategy, and use it as your guide.

Making Your Pre-Roll Video Successful

There are many factors that go into the decision-making of how long your video content should be, what it should be about, and where it should run. But there are a few definite rules to follow that will make your content successful:

  • Make it appropriate for your audience,
  • make it entertaining (otherwise people will ignore),
  • and make it memorable.

If you know you’re going to be creating video for a campaign, plan and write stories for eight or even six seconds, and plan and write separately for your 30 and 15’s. Don’t just chop down a 30 second or a 15 second TV broadcast. It won’t tell the same story, it’s not being used on the same platform, and it will not be as effective, therefore becoming one of those bad pre-roll ads I talked about earlier. Don’t recycle your TV spots for pre-roll.

Here are a few last tips for creating bite-sized video content that people will eat up. Use strong visual elements, incorporate good storytelling, and leave some things up to the viewers’ imagination (like, what happened to the guy who jumped off the diving board in our video example earlier?!). These tips will help your message linger longer and help to make your pre-roll punchy and snappy—remember you only have seconds to grab your users’ attention.