6 Thoughts on Why Six-Second Bumper Ads are the Future of Video Advertising

 In Advertising, Digital Marketing, Fiore Communications, Marketing Strategies

As the world increasingly turns to mobile devices to gather information, the advertising and marketing industry is continuously searching for new ways to reach their viewers. Enter the six-second bumper ad.

Until recently, much of the video advertising online was occupied by existing television ads, and as 15-, 30- and even 60-second ads still roll in abundance, six-second ads have completely disrupted “traditional” online video advertising.

YouTube introduced the six-second bumper ad format in 2016. Since then, digital giants such as Facebook and Snapchat have also implemented the six-second ad format. Some of the world’s largest corporations and most respected brands in advertising, such as Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Nike, Duracell, Toyota, Discover, Old Spice and GEICO have also forayed into the practice.

These brief advertisements have even transcended the digital realm as companies such as Fox, Disney and AMC have begun using the format in broadcast ads. It has quickly become apparent that the six-second ad is here to stay and will become an increasingly valuable tool in the advertising industry.

Here are six thoughts on why six-second ads are the future of video advertising:

Six Seems Like the Right Number

Why is six such a significant number? It’s really not, as five-second ads may be just as effective. But short-form advertising boils down to user experience and the perception that the increasingly important millennial demographic has a shorter attention span than their Boomer and Gen-X predecessors.

In essence, six-second ads are the new 15-second ads, which emerged in the mid- to late-1980s after research suggested that viewers recalled 15-second ads about as much as they could recall 30-second ads. These short ads also enhance the online user experience, as users aren’t forced to either view (or skip) a full-length ad to watch a relatively brief video on a platform such as YouTube or Facebook.

Increased Ad Recall

In reaching a younger generation seemingly always on-the-go, six-second ads are becoming a crucial tool for advertisers to build brand awareness and increase ad recall on digital platforms. According to a 2017 study, Google found that six-second ads on YouTube drove favorable results in the areas of ad recall, brand awareness, product interest and purchase consideration. According to Google, nine out of 10 six-second ads drove significant ad recall. In another study, Tropicana found that their six-second Facebook ads drove higher metrics across the board when comparing 30-, 15- and six-second ads.

Truly Integrated Marketing

A major advantage of these short-form advertisements is that they can coexist with other content in real time. Fox experimented with this in 2017 throughout their coverage of the World Series, college football, the Teen Choice Awards and their Thanksgiving Day NFL game. Six-second ads ran during slow or transitional moments throughout the broadcasts. Fox aired the ads in a “double-box” format, in which the feed was minimized and ads rolled adjacent to the feed. Advertisers such as Duracell, Disney, T-Mobile, Mars and So-Fi were among the first to try the new broadcast format and many reported a success in viewer engagement metrics.

Six Second Ad Gif

They Let the Creative Juices Flow

Six-second advertisements force the creative to stick to the message and get to the point quickly. To help pitch six-second ads to advertisers, YouTube has asked creative agencies to tackle the challenge at the Sundance Film Festival, including telling a story from scratch in six seconds and reimagining classic fairytales as ads in the six-second format. The point behind YouTube’s challenge was to prove that if you could tell a story as old as time in just a few seconds, then you could tell just about any story in six seconds. The results were quite memorable:


Despite the limited duration, six-second ads are extremely versatile and can be used as a standalone advertisement or fit into a larger, overarching marketing strategy. Google recommends a strategy used in conjunction with ads or long-form videos called “tease, amplify, echo.” It means six-second ads should be used to tease a campaign or announcement, amplify the message while telling the story through a long-form video, and echo a follow-up message to a targeted audience following the launch of the video.

Branding on a Budget

With production and post-production costs often climbing into the thousands for 60-, 30- and even 15-second advertisements, six-second ads could evolve into a great video advertising alternative for small- to mid-sized companies. These ads typically consist of a few short shots (or often, just one shot) and light editing. This is optimal for companies without a large marketing budget or nearly anyone with a smartphone using YouTube Studio or another basic editing app or program. This could help level the playing field between small, local companies and large corporations when it comes to reaching consumers.

Six-second ads offer something for everyone. They’re versatile, easy to produce and though they’ve quickly become a disruptive form of advertising, they don’t impede on the end-user’s experience. We’ll be seeing a lot more of these bite-sized ads in the near future.

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