The six second ad is here. Jeffrey Katzenberg is looking to raise $2 billion to “invent” ten minute TV. The notification screen is the new home screen. Google’s pushing their AMP (accelerated mobile page) format harder and harder. The world wants fast. They want brief. Bites. Tapas.
Look, everyone wants to tell you that this or that is dead. It is. Everything died. And then there are new things. Those are alive. Until they die. Good. That’s out of the way.
The six second ad. You’ve looked at YouTube lately. There are two types of ads. One you can skip and one you can’t. If you can skip, you hover over that box barely watching the ad. If you can’t and the ad is six seconds, you accept it. If you can’t skip and it’s 30 seconds, you think “what a jerk.” Jerk. Your 30 second ad makes you a jerk. (30 used to be a “short” ad.)
Tweets. 140 characters. People used to rail against the format. “Why so few characters?” The truth is that Twitter pushed a really specific reality to bear: everyone’s too wordy and we need to get clear and concise. The form brought forth a lot of new voices and also other versions of the same concept.
Instagram: one picture (eventually short videos). Snapchat: vanishing pics and videos. Emojis and Gifs. Did you know that Giphy serves up 2 billion gifs a day on their platform? Gifs are repeating few-second bits of video.
But if everything’s so fast, where are we going? How do we know we’re in the right place? What can we learn if everything is moving whipsaw like it is?
The strange intersecting trend is that it’s become more and more okay to be the real you. At the very same time a raft of tools has arrived to show off idealized versions of our lives, people are seeking out connections to the “real.” As virtual reality tees up, we want to go deeper with others and we want the real world. Or more accurately, we want the world we wish were the real world.
It’s possible to get deep quickly. Part of this is cultural, and in this, I’m deeply biased. You see, the rest of the world calls American culture avocados. We’re super soft and squishy and let you get super close fast, but our REAL selves are hidden in a core that’s hard to breach. By contrast, a lot of the world’s cultures are coconuts. The outside is a lot of work but once you’ve done that work, everything inside is worth it.
I think the avocado in us, the willingness to share a lot of who we are is something we can and should strive to deploy in these new fast methods. But just like there’s a massive difference between really good guacamole and a mushed up avocado, the goal with this new method will be to deliver an actual connection between your buyer and the values and mission of your organization.
We have to communicate faster, and deliver a deeper message. Not always and not super deep. But somewhere in how we do what we do, our values and mission have to be accessible.
Chobani didn’t beat Danon on price. They gave people what they wanted (more protein and less sugar), and they made it clear that they were donating some of their profits to causes. CEO Hamdi Ulukaya gave all his employees stock and made everyone in the company a lot better off in the process. None of this shows up on the label or in their ads. But the story spreads in short fast bursts through their media.
Sometimes, we buy something simply for ease of use and/or price. I like how I’m treated at the Cumberland Farms gas station and so I choose to go there for fuel. But if the lines are too long, I’ll go wherever. Sometimes, you just need a slice of pizza and it doesn’t much matter and other times, you want a sustainable farm-to-table dining experience.
But as messaging vectors, we might want to think more about how to make our messages faster and how to get deeper in that short amount of time.
Even this post is too long. Right?