One of the themes of the swanky Cannes ad festival this year was that it’s ever more challenging to get consumers’ attention, particularly on mobile phones. Thus, companies ranging from Facebook to Snapchat to Fox are pushing the industry to produce super short ads, with six second videos emerging as a defacto new standard.
The problem is that most brands and agencies are still oriented toward making expensive 30-second TVs, which they then try to retrofit for the web.
To help flip that approach, L’Oreal, which owns a stable of beauty brands, and Google are trying to take a crash course in six-second ad production. Specifically, L’Oreal and Google are jointly rolling out a new partnership as part of an initiative Loreal’s calling “Media Bets.”
Starting this month, staff from both companies will work together to sift through data on what people are engaging with on YouTube and look to put out timely six-second ads that will run prior to content on the video platform.
The hope is that L’Oreal will not only churn out ads faster – sometimes in a few days – but these ads will be that much more relevant based on what people are responding to at a given moment, said Nadine McHugh, the company’s senior vice president of omni media, strategic investments and creative solutions.
“It’s super hard to get somebody’s attention,” she said. “In this time challenged environment, advertisers have to think about a value exchange with consumers more than ever.”
Ideally, that means showing them short ads they may actually find valuable. L’Oreal might see that people on certain YouTube channels are talking about specific beauty looks or skin issues, and they might produce six-second ads featuring tips from L’Oreal.
Or if everyone’s talking about Fashion Week, L’Oreal might crank out behind the scenes clips from the various runway events in New York and London. The brand was quick to point out that this initiative is still very much in the test and learn phase, and exactly what these short ads will end up looking like is purely speculative at this point.
Debbie Weinstein, YouTube’s managing director, global brand solution, said that since launching six-second ads last year, the company has executed 600 campaigns. But this joint approach with a brand is a first in this category. “Lots of people can have data,” she said. “It’s the insights that are hard. So we’re most impressed with [L’Oreal’s] disciplined way of testing and learning.”
L’Oreal’s Media Bets is being funded out of a special budget L’Oreal sets aside for experimental ad initiatives, said McHugh, which her team oversees. If the company doesn’t force itself to test new things, it’s too easy for individual brands to keep doing the same thing with their media plans, she added.
“We have a Shark Tank-like pitch where we try to find partners that might be on the cusp, so we can do things that have never been done before by our brands,” she said. “It’s our version of future proofing.”
One thing L’Oreal is thinking about in the near future is how the six-second video ads might help its TV work. The company has seen research that people look down at their phones once TV commercials come on the air, and that marketers may need more attention-grabbing audio in their ads to break that behavior.
So the tactics from the Hacker ads may help L’Oreal on TV. The company may even start running 10-second TV ads, she said.
“You have to get people to look up,” McHugh said. “We need to recognize this.”