Gone are the Mad Men days when you had sixty whole seconds to advertise your brand, your product, your product’s features, and an offer, plus a nice little jingle to open and close. Of course, you can still create 60-second spots for TV and digital video, but unless your message is conveyed as a short film that holds your viewers’ attention for the duration of the spot, why would you?
Let’s face it—the average American’s attention span has gotten shorter over the years, so it only makes sense that the length of television commercials has too. Granted, when the industry standard changed to 30-second spots in the 1970s, it was due to media inflation. However, advertisers realized that they could still get their messages across effectively while saving money at the same time.
Enter the 21st century, with even shorter attention spans, and the emergence of the 15-second TV spot. For years, Intermark has advocated for 15-second automotive ads, mainly due to higher frequency, increased brand awareness, and of course, more cost efficiency. But now, we have another, more tangible reason. According to a report titled “Taking Back the Wheel: TV Ad Performance Insights for Automotive Brands” by global leader in linear and digital TV attribution, TV Squared, 15-second spots have a 50% higher response rate than traditional 30-second ads. Furthermore, the CPR (cost per response) is 25% lower for 15-second commercials.
Additionally, since online viewers are often given the option to skip ads after fifteen seconds, 15-second spots are ideal for pre-roll because the viewer has no choice but to see your commercial in its entirety. This saves you money, too, by not having to produce separate spots for each medium.
However, when it comes to creating 15-second ad campaigns, there are some things to keep in mind:
- Focus your message. It’s important to present a clear, concise and uncluttered message. Make sure every word, image, and graphic counts. Cramming too much information into such a small amount of time could confuse or annoy your audience, which would greatly impact the effectiveness of your ad.
- Be realistic. Unless The Micro Machines Man is available (and you’re willing to fork out some big bucks for him), you’re not going to be able to call out a sales event, three different vehicles with three different offers, your website, location, and that cute little jingle, all within fifteen seconds. Keep it simple. For automotive advertising, have an open and a close, with one vehicle and an offer in the middle. You may be able to call out two different vehicles, but that tends to work better if they share the same offer (e.g., “Your Choice – Only $299 a month!”). For branding, the same rules apply: an open and a close with one or two things that make your dealership special.
- More than one. Create at least two different spots, if not more, to rotate throughout your scheduled flights. This is especially important if your schedules include bookends, so viewers see different products within the same commercial break. To save on production expenses, many dealers like to use the same open and close while switching out the middle (“donut” spots). This method not only allows you to highlight multiple products; it also increases recall and recognition of your brand.
- Be flexible. With the popularity of 15-second creative on the rise, not every advertiser will be able to run their 15-second spots as bookends in every single program they wish to be in. Allow stations and cable companies to run two of your spots within the same break (as long as they’re not back-to-back) whenever bookends are not available.
- Consider different dayparts. For campaign effectiveness, the time of day a spot airs is just as important as the creative length, channel or program. Dayparts need to be measured and optimized to see when a responsive audience is watching. Surprisingly, it’s not always the same time as when the highest rated program is airing. According to the above-mentioned TV Squared report, analysis showed that Weekday Daytime and Weekend Daytime were the most effective for driving response. They were also the most cost-efficient dayparts, with a CPR that was 37% and 20% below average, respectively. On the other hand, Overnight and Late Fringe were the least effective, costing double to triple the investment per response and delivering poor response rates. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore Prime and Early Fringe. Although more expensive, they proved to deliver solid response as well.
- What do Auto and Garfield have in common? They both hate Mondays. Automotive agencies have long thought that being on air later in the week delivers a more impactful TV schedule. Well, the TV Squared report confirmed that belief and provided another useful nugget: Saturday and Sunday were the best performing days, delivering response rates between 7%-15% above average. When you think about it, that makes sense; people have more time on the weekends to devote to researching major purchases. Monday was the lowest performing day overall, in addition to being more expensive. Compared to weekends, it was 18% more expensive in delivering response.
- Although the case for 15-second spots is strong, if you already have powerful 30-second creative that cannot be edited down to 15 seconds in a way that still conveys the message clearly and effectively, keep it at 30 seconds. Experimentation and continuous creative optimization are key. If you find that you still need 30-second spots as part of your marketing mix, aim for a strategic balance of both.
In our latest 60-Second Automotive Update, Intermark talks about how 15-second ad campaigns, when used in conjunction with new TV attribution models, result in a winning marketing strategy. Watch it now:
Attribution becoming available for traditional TV is exciting news, especially for car dealership marketing. While television has always been used for “upper funnel” objectives like building reach and brand awareness, “lower funnel” measurement capabilities were limited. Now, with new platforms like Comcast’s Instant IMPACT powered by TV Squared, dealerships are able to effectively place 15-second spots, that are already proven to have a higher response rate, in specific dayparts on specific days that also drive strong response rates. It’s a win-win!
For more information on developing a 15-second TV strategy for your dealership, contact Intermark Automotive today!
by Shea Posey, Senior Account Executive/Blog Writer/Compliance & Co-op Specialist