TV Spots Shrink to Match Attention Spans.

Posted by truecreek on October 27, 2010 under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

By Emily Fredrix

And now, a word from our sponsors. A very brief word.

TV commercials are shrinking along with attention spans and advertising budgets. The 15-second ad is increasingly common, gradually supplanting the 30-second spot just as it knocked off the full-minute pitch decades ago.

For viewers, it means more commercials in a more rapid-fire format. For advertisers, shorter commercials are a way to save some money, and research shows they hold on to more eyeballs than the longer format.

“It used to be that the most valuable thing on the planet was time, and now the most valuable thing on the planet is attention,” says John Greening, associate professor at Northwestern University’s journalism school and a former executive vice president at ad agency DDB Chicago.

So instead of seeing a lengthier plot line, viewers are treated to the sight of, say, the popular “Old Spice man” riding backward on a horse through various scenes for just 15 seconds.

Or the “most interesting man in the world,” the suave, rugged, Spanish-accented character pitching Dos Equis beer, appearing just long enough to turn his head and weigh in on the topic of rollerblading. (Verdict? A deadpan “No.”)

The number of 15-second television commercials has jumped more than 70 percent in five years to nearly 5.5 million last year, according to Nielsen. They made up 34 percent of all national ads on the air last year, up from 29 percent in 2005.

Commercial-skipping digital video recorders and distractions such as laptops and phones have shortened viewers’ attention spans, says Deborah Mitchell, executive director of the Center for Brand and Product Management at the University of Wisconsin. Viewers are also watching TV streamed on sites like Hulu, where advertisers have less of a presence.

Read the entire article here.

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