Beating odds in the digital age: Long or short form content?

Guest Column: Sabyasachi Mitter, Founder & Managing Director Fulcro, says the key is to create snackable content sprinkled across platforms as a bid to promote long-form content

e4m by Sabyasachi Mitter
Updated: Dec 18, 2019 9:28 AM
Sabyasachi Mitter Fulcro

We live in an age where most mornings begin with a discussion on what we watched on Netflix the previous night. While bitesize content works well particularly for short prompts, one cannot deny the fact that it is long-form content which can help brands aiming to establish a connect. TVCs have been the age-old way to reach the masses, and their recall always will be higher since they still rely on the slightly longer variants of advertisements timed 25 to 45 seconds. But the current audience is a dual-screen consumer — they are on their digital devices even when the TV is on. Hence, the challenge for TVCs is now dual in nature — that of standing out in the clutter and beating the digital attention. This is not to say that both types of content cannot go hand in hand. The key is to create snackable stuff sprinkled across platforms as a bid to promote long-form content.

The 5- and 10-second formats have been in existence for a long time on YouTube now. However, brands are becoming more aware of the format considering the fall in long format digital content viewing. We are aware that the average attention span of a digital native is less than that of a goldfish, and thus, it was high time that brands realized this. As per a recent study by the Pew Research Center, YouTube has been shifting its recommendation system to favour longer videos. The recommendations, it was found, increased in length every time with new content. While it may be tricky for brands to make consumers sit through a 10-second ad, for instance, during a 30-second video, the value add is more when this can lead you to 20 more minutes of content. Audiences also seem to be responding positively. For instance, about 54 per cent of the video-viewing time of smartphone users is spent on videos that are about 20 minutes long.

Digital will always be a quick consumption medium and TV the long format predecessor. However, what matters is how creatively and convincingly one delivers the message. With the advent of OTT players, the shift in paradigm is to enforce digital as a long-format sustaining medium. While they may be snacking short content at any given point, if the storytelling is compelling, you can see them binge long content for hours. It is crucial for brands to understand which length content can maximise ROI as it will change depending on a number of variables.

There are many social and cultural cues for brands in the online landscape. Whether it is the satisfaction one gets by watching slow-motion videos of cooking or the undemanding, hypnotising experience of slow movement, taking it easy seems to be the buzzword. This counters today’s fast-paced and on-the-go lifestyles as well. Brands that can tap into this phenomenon are those for whom the opportunities are endless. For instance, the short films on Vimeo or longer docs on Nowness are a great example; and the content here is already captivating the attention of its viewers.

The brands of the future are not those that will battle it out for few seconds of your attention. For brands to be successful and gain traction, it is going to be equally important to earn consumer loyalty and deepen engagement with each passing second.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com

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