For me the conversation about pre-roll lengths started in September 2007, when I joined Telegraph Media Group to launch Telegraph TV. Previously I had worked at a TV production company, and it was the norm for advertisers to run 30’ creative on the giant Blink TV screens that we managed at music gigs and festivals across the world.
In the digital space though, shorter lengths are important. As well as working with video as a medium I also shoot and edit it, and while I am no Spielberg I am capable enough to know that making a 10 second version of a 30 second advert is not rocket science.
I also know that the view through rate of 10 second adverts compares very favourably when compared with 30 second creative, and I know that video advertising investment is growing significantly, so why are so many brands relying on their 30 second TV spot to do a job online?
The mind-set of a consumer online is very different from that of somebody watching TV or Cinema. The lean-forward, active, fact-finding state of mind displayed in somebody online can be a very powerful proposition for brands, but I think in order to maximise that opportunity advertising has to be tailored to the environment.
I also believe that there is an unscientific, yet direct correlation between the size of the screen and the acceptable length of video advertising. Sat in a dark cinema, with no distractions and no chance of you getting up to make the tea or to put the washing on (my wife would tell you there is no chance of me doing this at home either) then a 90 second advert is likely to be acceptable. As the screen gets smaller the attention span decreases with it as the possible distractions increase. So in order to still engage these people, the creative length has to reduce as well. Maybe to a 30 on TV for example. Online you are one twitch of your finger away from leaving an advert if it is deemed too long, so once again the length of the pre-roll should reduce. The IAB Video Council recommendation is 15 seconds for online video pre-roll advertising; I would go one step further and recommend a 10 second creative length online. On mobile I think it should be shorter still, but that is another conversation.
If the creative agency are briefed at the very start that the creative needs to be adaptable to online, then there should be no reason why a shortened version of the TV/ Cinema advert could not be planned and created. At the moment, too many consumers are watching a smaller proportion of a longer message, and surely that is worse than them watching all of a shorter message?