Gone in 6 seconds - 6 tips for 6 seconds ads

P4T Episode 3: Gone in 6 seconds - 6 tips for 6 seconds ads
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They’re notoriously one of the hardest ad formats to get right. Add to this the fact that ignoring them has become ingrained audience behaviour, then it presents brands with a significant challenge. But when you get them right, boy can they deliver pushing your media budget further. In this episode I've prepared six tips to help you create killer pre-roll ads.

Evelyn Timson


The thing about the 6-second – or ‘bumper’ – ad is...You need to be fast. Really fast. Get them wrong…and you may just end up like poor WILE E. COYOTE, close but never close enough. So here are our 6 tips to make sure you knock ’em for 6. 


Number 1, don’t just cut a long story short Don’t treat bumpers as an afterthought. That 6 seconds needs some careful consideration. And shouldn’t just be cutdowns of your hero content. Plan ahead. Create bespoke 6-second treatments and shoot specifically for the format. Here’s Bounce with a short humorous story that still manages to land a simple message… 


Number 2, don’t rely on sound.  Don’t let Mute muck up your marketing. We all know that people watch video without sound. You don’t want the spot to end before the viewer realises they’re watching your ad.  Here’s a example from Mother. They highlight the issue of global warming and while the track enhances the piece, it doesn’t rely on it.  It works without sound. 


Number 3, Simple is effective This is good advice for all content, but with 6-second ads it’s vital. Keep it highly focused on one single objective. And structure it to land one punch. Yes you have many messages, but squeeze them all into 6 seconds and you’ll just daze and confuse.  If you have more than one key message, break them into separate bumpers. Each landing one clear idea only. Here’s a South Korean brand, but language isn’t a barrier at all. It’s a sheep showing us just how spicy these chicken wings are. Single, simple, spicy!


Number 4 cut the cuts. Just like messages, it may be tempting to pack your video with too many shots. Too many choppy cuts can be distracting and hard to follow. We’re often told a fast edit, will make things more dynamic. But with a bumper, once again, less is more. Remember, the ad will likely be viewed on a mobile device, so keep visuals big, simple and striking. This Under Armour ad uses very few shots and one fluid action to celebrate the feeling of hitting baseball, over the rational side of the sport.


Number 5, leave them wanting more. The most important thing you can do with 6 seconds is leave the viewer wanting: to click a link, to learn about your brand, to see the product in action, to finish the story. Pose a question, tickle their curiosity, and then be brave enough to ‘walk away’. You don’t have time to wrap everything up with a bow. A little mystery and intrigue creates an itch we just have to scratch. This teaser for Jason Bourne generated a ridiculous amount of hype around its trailer release. Itchy stuff. Without sound, you may need text. But we don’t have time to read lots of on-screen text or subtitles. So be pithy. Use as few words as possible and don’t make us work hard with a fussy font. Keep it nice, big, and readable. You can still make a great 6-second ad with words. You just need to be clever. In fact, Mercedes have done it in just 3. The fact the new Benz can reach 100mph in the same length as the ad itself is single-minded, clear and super smart.


So that’s our 6 tips. This videos has gone on long enough. Catch more Pause For Thought videos by hitting subscribe. Thanks for watching.


  • Looney Tunes 

  • Tom & Jerry 

  • Bounce - Dryer sheets to the rescue 

  • Mother - The high diver 

  • Mom’s Touch 

  • Under Armour - It comes from below 

  • Jason Bourne - Teaser 6 

  • Mercedes Benz - Reminder 1 


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