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Bite-Size Marketing: The 6-Second Video Ad

October 23, 2017

Six-second video ads aren’t new. Google refers to them as bumper ads. They run as pre-roll ads on YouTube videos.

Some longer pre-roll ads are skippable: you can skip the ad after watching it for 5 seconds. And most people do skip them. If you’re an advertiser, a bumper ad helps you beat this problem: the ad is so short, it’s skip-proof.

For best results, Google Creative Director Ben Jones suggests having a simple message and taking enough time to create context for the viewer.

Here’s a bumper ad for the animated movie Sing.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highSix seconds is a severe constraint. But constraints spur creativity. Most bumper ads are funny– you don’t want to skip them. Humor works.

Instagram Creative Maud Deitch offers this advice:

“Think of your story like a joke. Distill it down to the punchline and then figure out how to build that with whatever tools you have at your disposal.”

That’s great advice for any kind of storytelling.

Here’s one for Old Spice Unforsweatable. “I smell no fear…” Who knew underarm perspiration could be so entertaining?blank vertical space, 32 pixels high

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highBumper ads are a global phenomenon. This one is for a Korean hot sauce called Mom’s Touch. It zeroes in on the product’s USP (unique selling proposition): it’s hot!!blank vertical space, 32 pixels high

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highI’ve always liked constraints: the challenge of making something that fits. So I created my own bumper ad.

I doctored a photo of me and my friend Gus (full name: Sarcophagus), then added some text and blurring. The soundtrack is the wonderfully atmospheric Bump In The Night by composer Kevin MacLeod.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highHere’s the original photo. It was taken on September 22, 2017, in a vintage clothing store called W. Armstrong & Son in Edinburgh, Scotland.blank vertical space, 32 pixels highMark Armstrong sarcophagus photo vintage clothing store Edinburgh Scotland
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What do you think? Do bumper ads take away the pain of watching an ad?

Have you considered making one for your brand?

You might also enjoy How To Make A Video Without Film.

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About Mark: I’m an illustrator specializing in humor, branding, social media, and content marketing. I create images that get content seen and shared.

You can view my portfolio, and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Questions? Send me an email.
blank vertical space, 40 pixels highRecommendation testimonial for Mark Armstrong Illustration from Freddy J. Nager creative strategist USC professor marketing communicationblank vertical space, 40 pixels high
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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Steven Leo Campbell permalink
    October 23, 2017 11:30 PM

    I’m an ad skipper. If I can’t skip them, I ignore them, just like I do with TV commercials, though I can mute those ads when they get too loud. I even stopped watching football so I can ignore Super Bowl ads. I’m an advertiser’s nightmare. I’ll keep ignoring them every chance I get. My life is simpler and better without hucksters pitching me their wares 24/7. But the kids seem to love these distractions. The phrase “Shut up and take my money” is a social grace to them. I’m definitely a different generation. ☺


    • October 26, 2017 1:53 PM

      Hi Steven, great to see you, thanks so much for stopping by. I’m an ad skipper, too (on YouTube, and sites like Forbes and Inc.), likewise an ad muter for the ones on TV. These 6-second bumper ads have only recently come to my attention, and I must admit I’m intrigued by the concept. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to tell a “story” in 6 seconds. And on some level, I have to admire advertisers’ ingenuity (and chutzpah!) in coming up with an ad format that’s unskippable and a lot less painful than a conventional ad. I hadn’t heard the expression “Shut up and take my money” before– I’ll hafta use that the next time I make a deposit at the bank!! : )


  2. October 26, 2017 3:54 AM

    Hi Mark… these definitely made me laugh! To answer your question, I hate advertising, but I can put up with the humorous, “very short” ones with no problem. I agree with you, I think they are going to be a hot item next year. Sorry, I didn’t respond to this one when you posted it, just been super busy and I’m finally starting to catch up.


    • October 26, 2017 2:14 PM

      Hi John, thanks so much for the comment, and you can’t possibly be further behind than I am!! Yeah, interesting, the bumper ads are almost like a concession to the viewer: we know you hate ads, so we’re gonna make them as short and as funny as possible– I think they (advertisers) may be on to something there!! I also suspect the challenge of doing something good in just six seconds brings out the creative best in the teams creating the ads. I’d certainly like to create some more of them myself. Great to see you, and I hope your super busyness was caused by the demands of rabid paying clients!! : )


      • October 26, 2017 7:34 PM

        Great to see you, and I hope your super busyness was caused by the demands of rabid paying clients!! : )

        I wish… this year was definitely slower than last year but that’s okay… you have to go with the flow, as they say. Let me know when you create a few more of those 6 second gems, I’d be interested in seeing them. Might be something I’d like to try myself. Take care.



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