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Tail. Wagging. Dog. Enough.

05 Oct 2017  |  Jayesh Rajdev 
Tail. Wagging. Dog. Enough.

Facebook’s claim that video advertising delivers half of its sales impact in the first two seconds is the inevitable end game in an absurd pursuit to legitimise shorter time lengths. Videology's Jayesh Rajdev is not impressed.

Viewing figures show that we continue to watch a lot of advertising in a TV or TV-like environment. 60% of video viewing in the UK is live TV; add viewing such as Playback TV, Broadcast VOD and Streamed VOD and you’ve got 78.8% of total viewing (source: Thinkbox/BARB/Comscore).

This is where the centre of gravity is for all video viewing, and in this world the 30 second ad unit reigns supreme.

It’s nothing new for platforms on the edge of the video ecosystem to attempt to rewrite the rules on TV advertising for their own gain. What these attempts have in common is that they appear to celebrate whatever format works for the platform involved. Typically, the ‘proof’ centres on claims that validate an ever-diminishing time length for video advertising. In the last 24 months we’ve seen claims for 15s, 10s, 6s, 5s, and now the case has been stated for 2s.

Facebook has had some challenges marking its own homework in the last year and now it’s come out with a new number. It wants us to believe that Facebook video delivers more than half its sales impact in the first two seconds of viewing. This is in line with the minimum MRC viewability standard but, almost inevitably, is outside the accepted standard as to how television (and premium video) advertising works. It’s yet another example of the tail wagging the dog.

If you want to present a legitimate case for deserving a share of TV budgets, then telling brands that two seconds is delivering is really not enough. As Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer, Marc Pritchard, told the crowds at dmexco: brands deserve better than two seconds.

Sadly, this latest research project doesn’t deliver on that promise. The study, conducted with Oracle Data Cloud, looked at 14 video-only and video plus display campaigns from FMCG advertisers, to claim that 52% of sales effect happens when views watch up to two seconds of video on the platform. Because Facebook has short-form video content to sell, it needs shorter advertising to make it register with consumers before they scroll down.

The bald truth is that as long as Facebook retains a scrolling news feed, it’s a digitalised print or poster medium at best. Because no amount of analysis or case studies will ever convince smart marketers that it’s an effective medium for immersive TV brand communications.

Substantiated and respected analysis of time lengths is the sort offered by TV, where not only do brands know what length of time they are getting, but that all of the ad appears on the screen, all of the time.

Furthermore, the catalogue of studies produced by the IPA, essentially a media neutral organisation, attest to its effectiveness. All alternatives need to be assessed against these benchmarks. Yes, brands can use shorter lengths such as 10 seconds as reminders or calls to action (and to drive efficiency) but the fundamental unit of effective brand advertising is 30 seconds.

Binet & Field in 2016’s Effectiveness in the Digital Era found that TV advertising in its current form is actually becoming more effective. When campaigns combine linear TV with TV-like spot lengths across Broadcast and premium VOD, their analysis concluded campaigns are as much as twice as effective in driving sizable business outcomes.

There’s a reason why around 60% of all TV advertising is executed via the 30s ad-unit: it works.

Powerful creative clearly has a role to play too, but no brand can realistically expect to communicate clear branding, product or user benefit in two seconds. Marketers do need to adapt to emerging digital platforms and repurpose content where and when appropriate but they should adopt a degree of cynical caution when the case is made for shorter and shorter time lengths.

While TV maintains its unassailable position as the UK’s preferred entertainment and advertising medium, then long may we expect 30s to reign.

Jayesh Rajdev is VP Brand Solutions for EMEA at Videology

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MartinGreenbank, Head of Advertising Research & Development, Channel 4 on 6 Oct 2017
“As Jayesh points out, these Facebook ads do have value but "it’s a digitalised print or poster medium at best".

I once bought a campaign of posters using Lenticulars. An illusion of movement, designed to catch the eye and make my client stand out amongst the static display of the outdoor world... I thought they looked great. So did my client.
Did I call it video?
No I called it a Lenticular poster.

Facebook need to take a long hard look at how their video is delivered and think again.
It's not video.
Stop calling it video.
NigelJacklin, MD, Think Media Consultancy on 6 Oct 2017
“I believe this claim...because we looked at it the other way round (using reverse mathematics). As most people switch of facebook ads pretty quickly, most of the impact they deliver is within the first two seconds. This could therefore be interpreted as facebook helpfully saying their ads don't deliver much beyond the first two seconds. Not like if you just read the first 4 words in this comment.”
DavidSpon-Smith, Director, Business Development, Mail Advertising on 6 Oct 2017
“Hi Nick,

It's interesting that all the examples you use rely on the spoken word, rather than visual imagery, particularly when 85% of facebook video is watched without sound.

NickDrew, CEO, Fuse Insights on 5 Oct 2017
“A test, if you will. Complete the well-known phrase: "Opal Fruits, Opal Fruits ____".
Got it? Great. How long did it take to say it?

Saying 2 seconds of video has no value is the usual black vs white nonsense that we see in the ever more hype-driven marketing and adland battleground. 2 seconds is enough for "mmm... Danone", "Made to make your mouth water", or the sound of a cold can of beer click-whooshing open with a brand prominently displayed on-screen. It has an effect. It shouldn't be the centrepiece of a campaign, and it can't replace TV, but it has a role within a well-integrated cross-media strategy as an additional reinforcement.

On the other hand, you're absolutely right that Facebook's credibility in ad-related measurement is not good - at least among those who care about such things. Sadly, not all marketers do...”