Pull up to the bumper

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Is six seconds long enough for an advertisement to woo a potential customer? The corporate executives who place short, "bumper ads" on the video-based social media service, Youtube, think so. Now, research published in the International Journal of Electronic Marketing and Retailing, shows what kind of content in bumper ads is most engaging for Youtube users. Ultimately, the insights could help guide advertisers hoping to improve brand awareness and consumer attitude towards a product, and ultimately increase sales.

Youtube introduced this ad format in 2016. Bumper ads are there to boost an 's reach and allow them to deliver a short, but hopefully memorable message to their potential customers. Critically, although bumper ads are of an incredibly limited duration set by Youtube, they are also unskippable, so viewers hoping to watch user-generated content on the site are commonly forced to wait until the bumper ad runs before they can do so. Whether they choose to stare at the screen and absorb the ad is a moot point. Most users are unlikely to turn away knowing that an ad is going to be so short and will thus be exposed to the message within, as is the intention of the advertiser.

Jay P. Trivedi, Siddharth Deshmukh, and Amit Kishore of MICA in Gujarat, India, based their findings on data collected from almost 300 Youtube users analysed in detail with various statistical techniques.

"Video advertising is seeing an upswing in ad spends, and advertisers need to understand the strengths and limitations of each video ad format. This work is arguably the first academic research done to understand the type of content which can work for bumper ads," the team writes. They suggest that it is particularly pertinent to Generation-Y consumers in the emerging market of India. GenY is usually defined as the "millennial generation," people who were born between the early 1980s and early 2000s.

Fundamentally, the team found that bumper ads do not lead directly to sales, but if they are able to convey the core message and involve the consumer, then they may drive sales later. "Advertisers can draw from [our results] and plan to convey the message by increased frequency of bumper ads or by placing them across multiple video genres to involve viewers more."

More information: Jay P. Trivedi et al. Wooing the consumer in a six-second commercial! Measuring the efficacy of bumper advertisements on YouTube, International Journal of Electronic Marketing and Retailing (2020). DOI: 10.1504/IJEMR.2020.108131

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