Thursday, August 24, 2017

Ten second commercials

Because commercial television isn’t cluttered enough, now come :10 second spots. Oh boy! Who doesn’t want to be bombarded with ads?

There used to be a local channel in Los Angeles, KCOP that was so schlock that they would do five minute blocks of :15 second spots for local advertisers. And the same announcer voiced them all. So it was one furniture store to Thai restaurant to motor home repair to nail salon. So that’s like fifty commercials in a row. Good luck to the poor schmuck whose spot ran 43rd. And the station would run this format four times an hour. That’s now two hundred commercials. No FRANCIS THE TALKING MULE movie is worth sitting through all that clutter.

But of course :10 second commercials are cheaper to produce and networks charge less for :10 second spots. In this day and age when advertisers are just happy when they can get the product name to register, :10 second spots offer an attractive option. Only downside is it drives the viewer nuts and they may take it out on you and your product, but hey, why quibble?

If :10 second spots are here to stay (and I imagine they are), it seems to me there are two ways to approach them. Allow me a moment to put on my Don Draper hat and drink heavily. There’s obviously no time for story telling. There’s barely enough time to say “Buy this fucking thing!”

So I suggest one of the following approaches:

Have a strong catchy jingle and a strong visible logo. Works for radio. If they can sing your product’s name you’ve got ‘em. If your product stands out on the shelf you’ve got a big leg up.

The other way is to do what Amazon has done with their Alexa campaign. They made 100 well produced fun :10 second spots. So they eliminate audience burn out. There will always be a few you’re seeing for the first time. And since they’re entertaining you’re less likely to grab the remote the second you see one come on. Best of all, you’ll remember the product.

Here’s an example of a few Alexa spots.



Of course, for :10 seconds to work you have to see many of them before they’ll register. Sometimes I wonder if seeing a :30 second ad five times is way more effective that a :10 second ad fifteen times. I’ll have to Alexa.

Alexa? Alexa? Where are you?

19 comments :

Andrew said...

I feel bad for advertisers today (as much as I hate their ads). It must be very difficult to make a significant impact.

I can't remember a single time that when given the choice to "skip this ad" (i.e. on YouTube) I haven't taken it. Just watching even a few seconds seems agonizing.

Michael said...

Growing up in Las Vegas, I was blessed to get Dodgers, Lakers, and Kings games on the one--ONE--non-network affiliate. The station, Channel 5, would try to drop in an extra ad, maybe even a 10-second one, during games. The cue for a commercial was when, on Lakers games, Chick Hearn would say, "This is the Lakers-Arco basketball broadcast." One night, Chick said, "There's a timeout on the floor--HOLD IT, CHANNEL 5 IN LAS VEGAS--this is the Lakers-Arco basketball broadcast." They never did it again.

Bart said...

So, how did you feel about the 1-second commercials that Miller ran during the Super Bowl?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f83AYIJiQUw

cd1515 said...

Was watching a MLB telecast recently, I think it was Toronto, where they dropped in spots BETWEEN BATTERS.
Ground ball to second, over to first, one away and boom, a 15-second ad plays.
Then the play by play guy just picks it up after the ad... he didn't toss to it, he didn't react to it, nothing.
Ken did you ever deal with that?

steve sims said...

Even those of us who already own an Echo will remember the Amazon spots because they nearly always trigger our device the moment the name "Alexa" is mentioned. If I was in advertising, I might think about producing spots that use that to my advantage. Man walks into the kitchen, picks of the dish soap, turns toward the living room and yells to his wife, "Alexa, what is Palmolive?". You pay for a 10 second spot, the in home Alexa gives you another few for free.

Andy Rose said...

Unless the idea involves a lot of CGI or different locations, I can't imagine it is substantially more expensive to produce a :30 spot than a :10 spot. Once you pay for a full crew, location or studio, and equipment, it would be more cost-effective to shoot a longer spot than a shorter one. The extra :20 usually isn't going to make that big a difference in shooting or editing time, and you don't even have to worry about paying for extra film anymore.

The increase in shorter spots is because the ad folks really do think people don't pay attention to :30. And the networks like it because they can make more money. A :10 spot is less expensive than a :30 one, but it's not literally one-third the price. Probably more like 40-50%. So the network makes more money on 3-:10 spots than on 1-:30 spot.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Geico and Progressive et al have been doing :10 and :15 second spots for years.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

I only bring up the untimely death of Jay Thomas today because this article mentions Eddie LeBec and how the character was killed...
http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/confidential/comic-actor-jay-thomas-dead-69-article-1.3439508?utm_content=buffer66562&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=NYDailyNewsTw&utm_source=twitter.com

Todd Everett said...

Hint to Amazon: Don't demonstrate Alexa in your commercials -- every time one shows up, my Alexa replies "I don't understand your question." Drives me nuts.

MikeN said...

Which network will be first with Alexa, change channel to CBS.

MikeN said...

USA used to have a short commercial running during Suits and presumably other shows, that would have a clip of what was coming later in that same episode.

William C Bonner said...

A 10 second ad plays well on YouTube, where the viewer may see the entire ad before hitting skip.

Being able to run the same ad on multiple platforms seems pretty positive from the advertiser perspective.

I'd also bet that multiple versions of the ads are produced instead of a single 30 second ad, and then instead of doing focus groups, they can get feedback later as to which ads get fully watched or clicked through.

Johnny Walker said...

10 seconds is so self indulgent. If you can't tell a complete story in 5 seconds, you're just wasting everyone's time:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=saqO_ZqX6uY

(Warning: Contains sophomoric gross humour, but I'm still impressed with what you can do in 5 seconds.)

The Big Guy said...

:10s have been around for a long time. I was producing them for the local KFC franchise in Cleveland in the early seventies. Pull back on a bucket of chicken product shot, announcer copy mentioning sale price for the weekend, throw a super up with the sale price and the franchisee name, fade to black. Very effective.

Doug said...

Come on Ken; KTLA had the Francis movies, not KCOP. Accuracy.

Bats in the Cradle said...

When I worked at tiny radio stations in the ‘80s and ‘90s, I grew to hate 10-second spots because they were the cheapest ones a client could buy, they were the easiest ones for sales to sell, and they were—without fail—awful. So of course only one version would get recorded and played in every stop set, forever, and probably was voiced either by the salesperson (ugh) or the client (UGH). I used to fantasize about buying the stations where I worked (usually after winning the lottery). In these dreams, I would call a sales meeting to announce that we were no longer making 10-second spots available as an option, and that, at the end of my first month as owner, the sales schmuck at the bottom of the selling heap—likely the one who had skated by for too long by only selling 10-second client-read spots—would get fired. The 21st-century equivalent is the live-read radio spot at the end of weather or traffic reports: “…and we’re brought to you by [XX].” Still just as poorly written because why would a sales schmuck need to proofread a spot? Once the commission check clears, it’s up to the weather or traffic person (who has better things to do, I’m sure) to untangle it and make it sound like it wasn’t written by a toddler.

Whew! That escalated quickly. Your blog is better than therapy, Ken.

Buttermilk Sky said...

When I was a young'un in the outskirts of New York City we had a thing called "listener sponsored radio," WBAI. No commercials. None. Of course, they periodically had to take off all the regular programs and hold a marathon of fund-raising (think PBS pledge drive with no clear end in sight), but it was bliss the rest of the year. So now I'm impatient with all commercials and known as "the fastest mute button in the East," although I do enjoy the one with Boys 2 Men.

How much do you think the Super Bowl charges for a five-second ad? Like, maybe, between plays, no time-out needed?

E. Bernhard Warg said...

Don't worry, Ken. Twenty minutes into the future they'll ban these spots when it's discovered they make people spontaneously explode.

Neumms said...

It gets worse. Fox announced they'll run 6-second spots during football games and elsewhere.