See the 5-second ad spot run rampant in Canada

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Is the future of digital advertising a five-second spot?

Bell Media Mix announced Wednesday it would be offering its advertising partners a new product called 5on5, a unique service that provides five-second ad spots across five of its platforms, including CTV, specialty channels and radio.

This move is ostensibly an industry first and could very well become the trend in the world of digital marketing. Industry professionals say five-second spots capitalize on brief attention spans and short-term advertising stimulus as it can enhance impulse sales throughout brief time periods.

Maxus Canada will become the first agency to take advantage of this tool and use it for the upcoming Universal Pictures film “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Prior to its Valentine’s Day 2015 release date, Bell will entice viewers with “quick bursts of seductive, romantic and dramatic visuals” for seven days to prepare them for the highly anticipated movie.

“Maxus immediately understood the role that 5on5 could play,” said Debbie Drutz, Vice-President Bell Media Mix, in a statement. “It’s all about increasing last-minute awareness and choreographing the hype. And it’s a perfect solution worthy of a title like Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Bell Media Mix added in its press release that this kind of marketing technique applied across all of the company’s multimedia outlets further helps tell the story behind the brand.

Five-second ads here to stay?

Millennials want instant gratification and will refuse to wait for something. Our attention spans have essentially been reduced to 140 characters and instant tweets and Likes. Look at how youth today are fine with ephemeral media that disappears in eight seconds, such as Snapchat photos.

YouTube viewers have become accustomed to be shown a pre-roll ad before the actual content begins. Most of the time, viewers can simply skip the video after five seconds, which can certainly be a thorn in the side of conventional marketers since consumers won’t consider the product or service being advertised.

Or will they?

The latest solution to this common problem has been to incorporate the five-second ad spot to either immediately get to the heart of the message or encourage the viewer to continue watching the ad. In fact, industry professionals now say they prefer to insert a five-second ad prior to a video than a 30-second ad following the content.

An example of this adoption occurred last year when the cast of the motion picture “This Is The End” begged viewers to not click the skip button, and even bribed the public with James Franco’s nipple. Seth Rogen and Zac Efron of “Bad Neighbours” did the same stunt in a pre-roll ad. Others, meanwhile, have used innovative methods, like this one ad that informed the viewer a puppy would be electrocuted if they skipped the commercial. Despite the tactless choice of subject, it generated serious buzz.

Adapt or fail

Since only select partners on YouTube have the option to install non-skip 15- or 30-second ads before videos, the rest of the content creators are left with ads that can be avoided after five seconds, which means advertisers really have no other choice but to adapt to this market.

With the new – and future – generation shifting their consumption habits from television to the Internet, their attention span has also diminished. To the average person, five seconds may not be a long time, but in the digital marketing sphere it could be an opportune time to drive home the brand.

Seasoned marketing leaders may scoff at the notion that a brand can be advertised in just five seconds, but this misconception has proven to be successful. If a five-second blip is memorable and garners headlines, which many of them have, then more brands and marketers will hop on this bandwagon.

Arik Czerniak, chief executive of Metacafe, estimates 150 million monthly video impressions with five-second ads at a $10 cost per thousand delivered randomly could bring in some $2.5 million a month.”

If executed correctly, such as by hinting at offers or discounts at the end of the video, providing answers to questions or engaging the audience, these five-second ads can help brands gain more attention on YouTube, DailyMotion, MetaCafe and all of the other online streaming video websites.

However, can this translate also to television and radio? Bell Media will soon find out.

In today’s society, five seconds can be a lifetime for both the advertiser and the consumer.

Photo of Fifty Shades of Grey trailer via YouTube screenshot

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Andrew Moran

Andrew Moran is a full-time professional writer and journalist, who covers the areas of business, economics and personal finance. He has contributed to Benzinga, Capital Liberty News, Career Addict, Money Morning and PFHub.


There is one potentially inherent problem with a five second ad, whether on television or a computer screen: It takes people three or four seconds to actually see something that pops up in front of them, which means the entire takeaway from the spot must make an impression in only 1 or 2 seconds. The notion is an interesting gambit but I’m wondering if it is taking into account the speed at which the human brain can see, absorb, imprint and remember what the advertiser wants and needs.


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