- Subaru, Frito-Lay, Eggo, Halls and Charmin had the most popular six-second ads on YouTube from July 2018 to July 2019, per a ranking that market researcher Ipsos shared with Marketing Dive. Hershey, Reese's, Frigidaire, Cheetos and Dove rounded out the list of top 10 short-form spots on the Google-owned video platform.
- Dove is the first brand to be ranked in the top 10 with a cause-related message. Its Project #ShowUs campaign aimed to address a survey that showed 70% of women still don't feel represented in media and advertising. The success of this ad suggests that even complicated messages can be conveyed within six seconds of video.
- The Subaru spot used an image of a dog to strike an emotional appeal and quickly capture user attention, but some ads focus on a human face. The Halls ad strives for emotional effect through humor. The spots were ranked in a creative rating test conducted by Ipsos, along with software that analyzed total views and engagement over one year.
The ranking of top six-second ads indicates that the best ones pick one message, character or emotion to profile in the short time. While the shorter ad format limits what marketers can say, brands like Subaru, Halls and Dove demonstrate that the constraints aren't insurmountable. Google tested more than 300 campaigns that used the "bumper" video ad format and found that nine out of 10 drove ad recall, while 61% lifted brand awareness, per a blog post.
The search giant more than two years ago pioneered the bumper format to make ads on YouTube less intrusive for impatient viewers watching snackable content. To promote adoption of six-second ads, Google this year introduced technology to help advertisers convert longer-form ads into brief bumper clips.
Meanwhile, other media platforms have adopted the six-second format to quickly capture viewer attention and cut down on wasted ad spend. Fox two years ago started inserting the shorter ads in its digital and on-demand channels before bringing them to NFL games on broadcast TV. Snapchat last year introduced non-skip, six-second commercials during premium shows in the image-messaging app's Discover section. This week, Twitter introduced an ad-bidding option that urges marketers to create short-form video inserts, pointing to a significant shift toward the quick-hit ads on a range of channels.
While Google touts the efficacy of bumper ads, the format has stirred controversy. Some agency executives argue the format is too short to effectively communicate a message. Other studies have shown that viewers can mentally process an ad within just a few seconds. Longer video ads have become more common on YouTube after the platform made 15-second spots available in programmatic auctions instead of reserved sales, according to research by MediaRadar. The 15-second format may be a happy medium between six- and 30-second spots in telling a brand story or delivering a call to action without being too intrusive to mobile viewers of YouTube.
Mobile video ads have become a key driver of digital media spending, a trend that's likely to continue as high-speed 5G networks expand nationwide in the next few years. Digital video ads on mobile devices grew 65% to $10.2 billion last year, outpacing the 37% growth for digital video in all formats, per an annual report by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PwC.