Snackable Videos: What You Need to Know about Short Form Ads from SXSW Experts

Snackable Videos: What You Need to Know about Short Form Ads from SXSW Experts

By: Brionna Simons


Do you notice the pre-roll advertisements before watching your favorite YouTube videos? Or the super short commercials during your Hulu and Facebook Watch shows? Then you’ve been delivered a short form video advertisement.

New Snacks

One of the newest solutions in digital marketing strategies is short video ads. Customer attention spans are rapidly decreasing, so they are skipping ads or tuning out altogether. One way to engage capricious consumers is by delivering ads in a “snackable” length, such as the six-second video format launched by Google AdWords in 2016.

The benefits of short video ads are higher completion rates and higher clickthrough rates (Learn about five more video metrics here). However, the challenge in earning these marketing metrics is in delivering a compelling story in only six seconds.

About the SXSW Session

When I attended the 32nd Annual South by Southwest Conference last month in Austin, TX, I sat in on “How to Tell a 6-Second Story: Advertising’s Future.” This brands and marketing session featured experts from Business Insider, SteelHouse, GDS&M, and Green Chef. The panelists emphasized that six-second ads are an evolutionary concept, and that although best practices aren’t yet developed, forward-thinking marketers should understand these key points about short video ads:

  1. They’re snackable in length.
  2. They’re additive and don’t replace long form.
  3. They’re cost effective.
  4. Testing is still important.

They’re Snackable

“Six seconds is far more digestive with short attention spans,” explained Marawn Soghaier, Chief Product Officer at SteelHouse. In fact, the average human attention span is only eight seconds, according to a Microsoft study released in 2015.

But don’t be alarmed, there is still space for creativity! Soghaie challenged the audience to think about video production in the way we think about written work. If a picture is really worth a thousand words, and we know that there are 60 frames per second, then creative directors are producing the equivalent of a 360,000-word document. That’s a lot of content for six seconds!

Short video ads are best used for brand recall, not a call to action. The panelists recommended relying on dramatic visuals rather than sound because audio is optional for viewers. They also recommended that an appeal to the inner child is impactful.

They’re Additive

It’s important to understand that short form ads are not replacing traditional 30- or 60-second ads; they’re additive to the campaign. Can you imagine a Super Bowl without Super Bowl commercials? We can’t, either.

They’re Cost Effective

Most short form ads can be created by editing down footage from long form videos. This means that contracting a videographer, model, and designing a marketing concept are unnecessary. Being resourceful with existing material can turn a $100,000 campaign project into a $5,000 editing assignment.

Testing Is Still Important

The power of testing and tracking still holds true in the realm of short form ads. Geoff White from Green Chef advised that if a six-second video isn’t performing well, try a 3-second format. This is especially true in social media channels where short lengths popularized by gifs and Vine videos have been around for years.

Next Practices

In general, a six-second story can cut costs and boost impact. If it’s paced well and incorporates delicious-looking visuals, a snackable video can be effective for generating brand recall and increasing video completion rates. While several companies are still determining best practices in the playground of short video ads, we’re thankful that SXSW provided these next practices to consider in our future video advertisement campaigns.

Brinton Taylor