NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — Since Lady Gaga’s nearly 10-minute video “Telephone” made its debut a few weeks back, it’s garnered 28 million views on YouTube, been watched on MTV.com nearly 500,000 times and shared on Facebook and tweeted directly from the pop star’s site some 150,000 times.
The video-slash-short film is easily one of the most-popular pieces of longer-form content in recent times, boosting visibility for brands like Miracle Whip and dating site PlentyofFish.com that made appearances in the video. But it’s also just one in a growing batch of examples that signal marketers’ desire to engage with consumers for longer than the standard 30 seconds.
“We’ve definitely seen an upswing in longer-form ads,” said Matt Miller, president and CEO, AICP. “While advertisers are looking for efficiencies in short-format/multiple platforms, they are also looking for new ways to engage consumers. … One way to do that is through short films and fun pieces that create awareness of the brand, and reward consumers.”
While long-form certainly has precedent — from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in 1983 to BMW Films in 2005 — industry-watchers all agree there’s been a spike in such pieces. Kraft Foods recently created a 27-minute crowdsourced film to advertise its Lacta chocolate bar in Greece; electronic brand Philips collaborated with Ridley Scott Films to create “Parallel Lines,” a set of short movies that acted as a global ad campaign to tout the cinematic viewing experience offered by Philips’ range of TVs; and U.K. grocery store chain Waitrose ran a three-and-a-half-minute spot that took up the entire span of commercial breaks and featured the country’s celeb chefs Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal. That’s in addition to the laundry list of luxury fashion brands — from Oliver Peoples, Pringle of Scotland, Opening Ceremony and Rodarte — that are increasingly using movie-like ads featuring celebrities donning their clothing and accessories.
“We all are learning the rules, and it’s that entertainment is king,” said Roger Camp, chief creative officer at Publicis & Hal Riney.
That insight is a key one that agencies and their clients are using in their quest to triumph over consumers’ shrinking attention spans, a particularly acute challenge with younger demographics. A Kaiser Family Foundation report earlier this year found that while media consumption is increasing overall — it’s gone from six hours and 21 minutes spent with media in 2004 to seven hours and 38 minutes today — more multitasking is going on as media gets more fragmented. The foundation, in fact, estimates that because more people are using more than one medium at a time, consumers are actually managing to pack 10 minutes and 45 seconds of media content into those 7 and one-half hours.
Shrinking attention spans have dictated the shrinkage of media segments too, from 60-second spots to 30-, 15- and five- and even one-second spots to a degree that now there’s a bit of a pushback to create work that really stands apart, according to industry execs. “That common rule of trying to keep it under a minute and half at the long end of the spectrum is being demolished and now it’s about making sure that the entertainment value is there,” said Mr. Camp. “And rather than having the brand talk about itself for a minute and half, what we’ve learned as advertisers is that the hard sell can’t be a component of something you watch for a long time.”
I couldn’t agree more.